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MSP: Automation And AI Require New Types Of Operations Centers

WBM Technologies is looking to capitalize on the shift to predictive analytics with its new managed services operation center in Western Canada.

As new technologies such as predictive analytics, automation and artificial intelligence are changing the work of managed service providers, their operations facilities may need to change, too.

That's the message from WBM Technologies, which last week opened a new infrastructure operations center in Western Canada that leverages new technologies for making managed services more proactive and less reactive.

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The center, located in Regina, Saskatchewan, represents a multimillion-dollar investment from WBM and aims to deliver data-driven managed services, said Brett Bailey, vice president and partner at the firm.

When it comes to managed print services, a traditional facility would be filled with “multifunction devices in various states of being built or repaired," Bailey said.

That's not the case in the new WBM operations center, he said.

"If you look at the managed print area, it's basically walls of glass—dashboards, monitors—that showcase all of the analytics and tools that are monitoring the environments and the physical locations of technical support teams," Bailey said. "The technology is basically automating the flow of consumables into the devices."

Ultimately, enabled in part by device intelligence advances from vendor partners such as HP Inc. and Ricoh, "support calls are not really people on phones getting calls from frustrated end users in front of the copier. Support calls are coming from the devices themselves," Bailey said.

WBM has the ability to receive an alert about a higher-than-normal temperature on a device, for instance, and can then remotely inspect, power cycle and update the device, Bailey said.

"If we realize a hardware failure is imminent, we can use our databases to identify the physical location of the nearest technical support team, and the physical location of the nearest part that's required," Bailey said. "We can then coordinate an in-field meetup of support vehicles with the right part and the support technician able to respond to the call. We can coordinate that rendezvous, dispatch the support technician to the device, and resolve the incident with a resolution time of zero, because the end-user interruption was not created."

Capitalizing on the shift to new technologies for enhanced managed print services has helped lead to an expanded business for Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based WBM, which runs several other operations centers in Canada including in Vancouver and Calgary. As of April, the solution provider had seen 38 percent growth in managed print services revenue over the past 12 months compared with a year earlier, Bailey said.

"AI and automation are having a profound impact on what was a traditional MSP business," he said.

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