How can Managed Service Providers remain competitive?

By Anthony Lamoureux, CEO of Velocity Smart, a global provider of smart locker solutions

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With an increasing amount of organisations sticking with remote and, or hybrid working practices, getting fast and efficient access to reliable IT remains one of their greatest challenges.

In the event of a hardware failure, without having on-site IT support that can be called upon to provide support, both employees and their IT support departments face challenges in rapidly delivering the essential hardware required to quickly get up and working again.

This simple problem can damage productivity and negatively impact employee engagement through lost days of work, frustration, ultimately impacting on the bottom line.

With a significant shift towards self-service solutions being adopted by the corporate world they are searching for meaningful ways to save money and time, while increasing productivity.

Computer hardware, for example, can be ready for collection from a centrally located Smart Locker in as little as 60 seconds (a current real-world average of 45 mins), representing an average reduction in time of over 99% (Statistical average of customers, down from 3 days to 45 mins).

Smart lockers technology enables IT Support Teams to quickly and easily secure, manage and distribute hardware. So given that businesses who opt to use managed service providers, expect them to have the skills and access to systems to address issues related to cost, quality of service and risk - it is surely a question of when, not if, managed service providers will implement Smart Lockers, right?

How do smart lockers work in practice?

In short, these clever bits of kit automate the management of high-value devices, reducing loss, damage and management time. Smart lockers benefit from cloud-based software, which offers real-time analytics capabilities, for both the managed service provider and customer alike.

This provides managed service providers with a real opportunity to increase their efficiencies, as well as boosting customer satisfaction - a no-brainer.

Smart lockers offer businesses and consumers alike storage solutions that have built in integrated technology, allowing the smart locker to automate package delivery, notification, and distribution.

For the customer, they are able to reduce the downtime between pieces of equipment being deposited and collected. For the managed service providers, this gives them unhindered 24/7 pick-up, drop-off and returns from internal, or external units.

A smart locker system also provides real-time analytics for each stage of order fulfilment, from the moment an order is placed in the lockers, to the moment it is collected up by the customer - giving managed service providers reliable and real-time access to data, on a scale that can’t be matched by standard practices.

What influence are smart lockers having on consumer behaviour?

In an age of pretty much everything being available, on-demand, from groceries, to entertainment, people are opting to do what they want, how they want it, at times to suit them.

The ‘on-demand’ trend is already augmenting and in some places, replacing traditional business models, with technology removing the obstacles of the past to accessing products and services, such as can be seen through the rise in e-commerce brands making everything available, now, thanks to their omni-channel approach.

This has not only set the bar for the speed and choice of service, but has significantly raised customers’ expectations and is something managed service providers should factor into their service offering, given their very purpose is to ensure seamless service to their customers.

IT hardware is no different. Typically, the first stage of the customer experience is either to request a new piece of equipment, a replacement item, or to request help with an IT problem - usually a problem that cannot be resolved instantly by remote desktop access, such as a hardware failure i.e. broken laptop, replacement charger cable, or lost mobile phone.

The ability to have the equipment collected and replaced in as little as 60 seconds, has to be at the top of any managed service provider’s business model.

Mitigating the risks

One of the biggest concerns for IT managed service providers and the businesses they service is ensuring what is delivered is both safe and secure.

Smart lockers are able to give the managed service provider, and its customer added layers of security, as unlike a traditional parcel delivery locker, the smart locker uses a personal identification number (PIN) or barcode, which provided to the recipient upon notification of a shipment received and offers the user easy access to deposit and collect their items.

Aside from the logistics involved in the last mile of delivery, comes the risk element for the managed service provider to ensure that the expensive and business-critical equipment reaches its destination safe and secure.

With traditional methods requiring signatures, perhaps waiting time whilst somebody answers the door, or they find the right floor in a building, this all leves the prospect of theft, false loss claims, and other issues that impact the bottom line in the air - which ultimately will be for the managed service provider to stump up the cash for any replacements, not to mention any penalties imposed as a result of failure to meet replacement times.

How to implement into an existing service management process

There’s no argument that both speed and convenience are a standard customer expectation.

Smart lockers provide managed service providers with an opportunity to implement cost-effective systems for their customers for retailers to extend the convenience of 24/7 online ordering to the kind of seamless pick-up services that customers expect.

The nature of a smart locker neatly fits with existing workflows for managed service providers, whose ultimate aim is to keep their clients’ services running, with the added benefit of significantly reducing turnaround times.

Despite the up-front investment needed to source the smart lockers needed to deliver the service, the benefits available from the investment will far outweigh the initial cost.

The future belongs to those managed service providers who are able to deliver what their customers want, when and how they want it - while driving costs down and increasing efficiency.

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