The rush to digitalize may promise untold benefits, but cybersecurity risks are also magnified. How can organizations balance the two forces?
In the thick of digitalization efforts at every level of organizational maturity, some firms eventually come to a point where they have to decide which aspects can and should be done in-house, and which duties should be outsourced.
Depending on the organizations’ resources and structure, some work needs to be kept in-house for maximum visibility and control. Other tasks—including critical cybersecurity aspects requiring intensive surveillance and experts—may not be within the ambit of internal resources: these may have to be assigned to managed service providers (MSP).
In a best-case scenario, a highly capable and reliable MSP can provide 24/7 cybersecurity services and solutions at a higher return-on-investment than if the organization were to invest on an internal 24/7 team. MSPs can also advise on intelligent automation, customer relationship management and operational efficiencies that internal teams cannot offer at short notice.
On the flip side, outsourcing of some specialized functions to outsiders may lead to unexpected surprises in terms of vendor lock-in, hidden costs or lack of visibility.
To find out more about the market for MSPs and what motivates organizations to rely on them, CybersecAsia had a discussion with Geeman Yip, Founder and CEO of software firm BitTitan.
Can MSPs handle both digitalization and cybersecurity aspects?
Geeman Yip (GY): While businesses transform and become more reliant on critical technologies, it also creates opportunities for intrusion. As we move more things to the Cloud, new attack vectors are exposed as compared to on-premises private networks. With the sophistication of threats faced these days, it is unrealistic to have a one-size-fits-all cybersecurity solution. Therefore, an MSP must be able to understand the unique needs of each client and develop an effective digitalization strategy built on the foundation of strong cybersecurity policies.
Is cybersecurity one aspect that MSPs should focus on to support their customers better? What are the other aspects?
GY: Companies engage MSPs primarily for their security expertise and ability to stay well on top of trends and techniques to ensure security is always updated to deter new threats.
However, beyond cybersecurity, there are many other areas where MSPs are required to support clients as businesses increasingly move their day-to-day operations online. One of the key areas MSPs should focus on is digitalization of clients’ work processes through integration of collaboration tools. While many are aware of these platforms, very few have fully adopted them holistically, and this can be largely attributed to lack of knowledge in the depth and breadth of these tools and measuring the usage of them.
What array of platforms can MSPs provide to businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, to showcase their products and services, and to create new revenue streams?
GY: There are two focus areas that MSPs should consider when assisting organizations with their technology needs.
- The first area is around operational effectiveness and excellence. MSPs can help organizations adopt internal collaboration, communication in addition to verticalized software such as finance, applicant tracking (ATS), contract lifecycle management (CLM), etc., which can greatly improve the accuracy and speed of their internal processes.
- The second area is around landing and expanding revenue for customers. MSPs can recommend and offer services around customer relationship management (CRM), marketing automation, chatbots and more to help digitalize the sales process in addition to having a digital sales strategy.
In either case, not only process efficiency but also data intelligence (to refine and improve the systems) will help to maximize revenue opportunities. Insights obtained from data analytics can help identify customer behavior and preferences for improving the quality of existing products and services and influence the launch of new products and services.
Overall, digital tools provided to clients must be designed to help them give more value and build closer partnerships with their customers, while decreasing operational costs leading to better profitability.
Data insights are now essential to digitalized operations. Should businesses have in-house people, like data analysts for this, or can MSPs do it as well? If the latter, would not businesses be totally reliant on MSPs?
GY: Organizations can spend more time using the data rather than trying to visualize and maintain them. MSPs are equipped to support businesses to capture and report on the data necessary for strategic decisions. However, getting insights out of this data outside the realm of IT is better left to those very familiar with the business.
On the whole, it is important for businesses to realize that while additional — albeit reasonable — costs are inevitable to outsource certain functions, the price to pay for not having these services in place, particularly cybersecurity measures, could run into millions either due to inefficient business processes, inadequate customer engagement and experience, and worse, the implications of a security breach.
Organizations need to accept that they will bear the cost eventually—whether it is for proactive investments or for reacting to problems down the line.
CybersecAsia thanks Geeman for his insights.