Most of the focus on automation has been on data centers, that have in recent years become overly complex to manage. But a new survey of 100 IT managers in the U.S. published by MOBI, a provider of mobile management software (MMS), suggests that many organizations are now starting to turn their attention towards automating the management of endpoints as well.

The MOBI survey finds that 88 percent of companies are either currently deploying endpoint automation (38 percent) or planning to do so soon (50 percent). The study further shows that large companies (49 percent) are further ahead when it comes to endpoint automation than small-to-medium businesses (27 percent).

Among those who have actively deployed endpoint automation, a total of 42 percent say they have fully implemented those programs. Another 21 percent are currently expanding their automation programs, while 37 percent are still in a pilot phase. Three quarters (75 percent) of those that have automation projects currently underway say they are already seeing a return on investment (ROI), while 21 percent said it was too early to tell. Surprisingly, the study finds that endpoint management also tops security as the highest priority for applying automation based on artificial intelligence/cognitive computing technologies.

Leveraging automation to stay relevant

Most managed service providers (MSPs) generate the bulk of their revenues from managing endpoints so any effort to automate that process has profound implications. The first is that MSPs need to automate their own processes if they want to stay relevant. If an end customer moves to automate the management of endpoints on their own, there may come a day when that end customer decides they don’t need an MSP.

The good news is most end customers don’t really know how to automate IT. Most of them still rely on suboptimal processes at best. Automating flawed processes never delivers the desired outcome. MSPs are in a far better position to achieve higher levels of automation at scale. If they don’t wind up delivering endpoint automation themselves, there is at the very least an opportunity for the MSP to teach an internal IT organization how to successfully automate. Longer term, the rise of AI will soon be driving a wave of consolidation across endpoint management. AI requires access to massive amounts of data to train AI models based on machine and deep learning algorithms. The more data those models have access to the faster and better they learn. Providers of MMS will be trying to aggregate as many endpoints as possible to drive those AI models. That requirement will inevitably result in a wave of merger and acquisition activity.

In the meantime, MSPs would be well advised to lead the way towards endpoint automation. The big advantage MSPs will have is they are going to be in a better position to weave multiple types of automation frameworks spanning, for example, application updates and security, into a single integrated service in a way no IT vendor focused on a single product category can. The challenge for MSPs is not in the building the AI models. Vendors will do that for the MSP. Rather, the opportunity to shine is by weaving of all those AI models together in a way that create a truly superior IT experience that no internal IT organization can ever hope to match.

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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