Tech Trends Expert On How MSPs Can Harness GenAI To Keep Customers On The Cutting Edge
‘At the end of the day, I don’t think most humans can be replaced by AI, but I do think that humans with AI can replace humans without AI,’ said technology trends expert Crystal Washington, at the XChange NexGen 2023 conference.
The explosion of generative AI into the IT market means that MSPs that want to stay relevent need to understand why it is part of the conversation today and how they should be having discussions with their customers about it, according to Crystal Washington (pictured), a technology trends expert and a Forbes 50 Leading Female Futurist.
“Some of the conversations that are going on right now aren’t practical, but we want to be aware of the developments and how they might help you within your MSP businesses,” she told the audience of attendees Sunday at CRN parent The Channel Company’s XChange NexGen 2023 conference in Houston.
GenAI, a type of artificial intelligence that can produce content, including text, images and audio that appear as if they were generated by a human, is causing a shift in how businesses are operating, she said.
GenAI, if trained on the right data, is often faster and more accurate than humans at boiling down research, figures and reading results, Washington said.
“There’s really a very practical application for GenAI for some of our clients—not all of them,” she said.
Most MSPs will not be plugging their customers into OpenAI’s ChatGPT, for example, Washington said. But many IT vendors are incorporating AI into technologies that end customers are already using, so MSPs need to have an understanding of and curiosity about these newer technologies if they want to help their customers stay on the cutting edge.
For Tech Hub Professional Services, a Piscataway, N.J.-based solution provider, every customer is asking about generative AI in different capacities, said the company’s CEO, Tony Balistrieri.
“[Customers are wondering], ‘Am I going to need a bigger network? More storage? More compute power? How do I know that generative AI isn’t data that is being manipulated?’” he said.
Tech Hub Professional Services is using ChatGPT for things like Wi-Fi site surveys for customers and for the creation of marketing collateral that the team reviews to ensure is validated content, he said.
It’s crucial for MSPs to be “survivors” and adapt, Balistrieri said. When he started his own business in 2020, he had plans to be a traditional VAR like he had done in the past. Instead, he evolved to focus on professional services for cutting-edge IT solutions.
Balistrieri said that his company has a “culture of curiosity” and always tries to stay just a little bit ahead of the trends.
Keeping that curiosity will help MSPs stay up to date, while factoring in the best practices that make sense for their business and ethical considerations for using GenAI within business applications, Washington said.
Businesses today must reinvent themselves every four to seven years, unlike the average Fortune 500 company 50 years ago that historically had business cycles of about 75 years. For companies like the MSPs at the conference, that means resting on one’s laurels is a recipe to miss out on future success, Washington said.
“The rate of change is increasing like nothing we’ve seen before in human history,” she said.