Mohammed Ibrahim joined Logicalis on June 1, 2022, as VP of Managed Services. We asked him about managed services, trends and innovations, customer experience, and more. Here’s what he had to say.
Q: What are the trends you’re seeing in the managed services industry today?
A: The initial focus for managed services was to keep the lights on. Now, customers expect their managed services provider (MSP) to proactively align their infrastructure to industry best practices. They want MSPs to take a holistic view in terms of what data they should be looking at and how to present that data to stakeholders. In other words, MSPs are becoming more of a partner in the business rather than someone who just takes care of infrastructure.
Q: How does increased diversity improve managed services?
A: When you have people with the same viewpoints, you tend to have a myopic view which limits creativity and innovation. Greater diversity brings together people with different backgrounds, experiences, and skillsets to challenge the status quo and provide different viewpoints which spurs more ideas and creativity. It just helps teams get more innovative in how they do things.
Diversity also helps with recruitment. Recruitment just doesn’t happen by posting a job, it often happens by who you know. With a more diverse workforce, the talent pool gets bigger, better, and more diverse.
Finally, a more diverse workforce better enables a global business like Logicalis because you’re better at relating to different countries and regions and the intricacies of doing business in each.
Q: What kind of innovations are you seeing in managed service delivery?
A: The first is AIOps, which is huge. It’s still in its infancy so everybody thinks it’s a magic bullet. It is not. It’s a roadmap. You introduce AIOps into the environment and continuously feed it, and as you feed it, it gets better—which makes your team more efficient because they’re looking at actual issues instead of noise.
That also helps to focus operations teams because they’re no longer searching and filtering through noise, they’re solving real issues faster. By taking the busy work out of day-to-day operations, teams have more time to focus on customer experience.
Q: What did you see in Logicalis that made you believe you could make a contribution?
A: There are three main things that brought my attention here. First, the company’s main focus is on growing managed and annuity-based services. That’s very important, both from a fiscal standpoint and from my perspective as a managed services professional because I see lots of opportunity.
The second is the global aspect. Logicalis has business units in each region around the world, and we’re looking at how to deliver services consistently and at scale globally which is huge because we can expand our relationships with our customers. It also helps us attract talent globally which helps us be more competitive and deliver better experiences driving global workforces.
Lastly, the executive team’s vision. This is a very seasoned team who understands the market segments we’re in and the type of technology partnerships we need with Microsoft, Cisco, and others. It’s a combination of playing to your strengths, while embracing future technologies. It’s a good mix of core competency and building core competency in emerging technologies, which makes us more relevant.
Q: How do you see Logicalis managed services growing globally?
A: Logicalis is building a global service delivery organization from a managed services perspective. By leveraging a common portfolio, processes, and customer interaction model, Logicalis can leverage our global scale to better serve our customers and deliver a consistent customer experience.
Q: How is Logicalis US changing its business to be more responsive to customers?
A: Logicalis US has transformed from a traditional infrastructure-focused solution provider to a trusted advisor helping customers build and operationalize their digitization roadmap. We can address the majority of customer requirements and accelerate their time to market by leveraging packaged offerings that use modern cloud technologies, like Production Ready Cloud, Secure On-Mesh, Intelligent Connectivity, and Digital Workplace.
Q: How are technologies like automation and AIOps impacting managed services?
A: When we looked at automation previously, it was in terms of how to automate an activity through runbook automation, which is the simplest form of automation for huge network operations centers (NOCs). You see where network and systems engineers are doing repetitive work and then automate those tasks so they can focus on higher-value work.
With AIOps, you reduce a lot of noise. But AIOps is more a journey than a point solution. You introduce the system and continuously tune it to make it better, which is what makes your managed services operations more efficient.
In the past, you might get 100 notifications and you’d have to filter out the noise to determine which ones required action. Now you’re getting one or two “real” notifications to act on. Repetitive tasks like this can be resolved by runbook automation. This not only helps engineers use higher-level skills, it reduces the time it takes to resolve issues and helps MSPs provide a better, more consistent customer experience.
Q: How important is the customer experience?
A: As we look to expand our customer relationships, it’s all about customer experience which is critical for any service delivery organization. If you look at the most valuable companies in the world, the Fortune 50, most—if not all—consistently have the highest customer satisfaction because of the customer service they provide.
C-suite folks don’t have time to manage service delivery issues. They expect their MSP to take care of them so that they can focus on their core business, which is serving their customers. So Logicalis customers expect us to deliver services efficiently, consistently, and with high customer satisfaction so they can focus on serving their customers and business stakeholders.
Q: One of the biggest challenges today is filling skills gaps and recruiting skilled talent. How does Logicalis resolve that issue?
A: That’s been a huge issue for every MSP and enterprise, especially over the last 18 months. But it’s actually helping many organizations because they’ve realized that they cannot take skills development for granted. With the huge shortage of skills in the open market, we’ve started identifying what skills are required for what roles and then groom the existing talent—for example, grow a tier 1 to become tier 2, grow tier 2 into tier 3, and so on. By clearly documenting the requirements for each role and defining what it takes to move into these roles, we’ve provided a career progression plan for employees.
The other aspect is technologies like AIOps and runbook automation. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says “I want to look at hundreds of alerts today.” What they want is to solve customer problems in an efficient way, so customers are happy and employees feel like they’ve added value. Adding these tools makes IT teams more productive which makes customers happier.
The last thing is knowledge management. It’s so important to have good knowledge bases because there’ll always be turnover and when there is, new people will need to get up to speed as quickly as possible. That requires a good knowledge base which also helps engineers quickly get relevant information to address customer issues.
Lastly, because of the many IT teams working from home today, engineers can no longer walk over and ask their co-worker a question. So collaboration and knowledge management systems have become that much more important.
Q: Talk more about the services that Logicalis offers customers in this regard.
A: Working from home is huge to attracting talent. At Logicalis, we’ve made significant investments in technology, infrastructure, packaged solutions, and integrations to make work-from-home models work for our customers.
At the same time, many customers have started realizing that technology is not their core competency. C-suite folks aren’t interested in how to best manage their infrastructure. They want to bring business value to their customers by running the most agile company and workforce possible—and that requires managed services.
From a Logicalis perspective, managed and professional services are going to be critical to helping enterprises build and manage their infrastructure without adding a lot of overhead.
Q: What should customers expect from Logicalis over the next 18 months or so?
A: In the next 18 months, there’s a good possibility of a recession. Customers will look to MSPs like Logicalis to help them reduce their operational costs and securely transition to the cloud.
Logicalis can help with turnkey solutions like Production Ready Cloud, Digital Workplace, Secure OnMesh, and Intelligent Connectivity. All of these solutions address the needs we’re seeing over the next 18 months. It’s on us to articulate that to our customers and solve their issues.