How does AI fit into your business’s managed IT services?

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How does AI fit into your business’s managed IT services?
Credit: © Reuters.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming businesses globally, and South Africa is eager to join the wave. However, a recent Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO ) AI Readiness Index reveals a sobering reality: only 11% of South African organizations are fully equipped for AI implementation. This highlights the challenges – resource limitations, expertise gaps, and inadequate infrastructure – that hinder AI adoption. This is where managed IT services come in. By partnering with a managed service provider (MSP), South African businesses can overcome existing obstacles and harness the full power of AI.

The AI advantage for South African businesses The potential of AI for South African businesses faces a critical hurdle: translating aspiration into practical implementation. Here, managed IT services emerge as a strategic solution to address this disconnect. The appeal of AI for businesses lies in its ability to enhance key aspects of operations and strategy. Companies are harnessing AI-powered enterprise applications to transform how they interact with customers and optimise internal processes. Customers are accustomed to AI chatbots that can answer their queries 24/7 and provide personalised interactions, improving customer service. Additionally, predictive analytics can forecast customer behaviour and buying patterns, enabling businesses to maximize sales.

But AI’s impact extends far beyond customer-facing aspects; it’s also being used to sharpen cybersecurity. Anomaly detection programs can identify and flag suspicious network activity in real time, significantly improving security posture. Supply chains are also being optimised with AI. Demand forecasting helps businesses predict inventory needs, while route optimisation ensures efficient delivery. Not only that, but AI also automates mundane tasks like data entry through machine learning (ML), freeing up workers to focus on higher-value activities.

It’s hard to imagine any area that won’t be impacted by AI. By simulating human processes with machines, the technology has the potential to improve existing products and inspire entirely new ones. The resulting benefits for South African businesses are numerous. These include improved customer service, enhanced operational monitoring, faster business processes, superior quality control, more effective talent management, and opportunities for business model innovation and expansion.

Managed IT services as a partner in AI success Globally, the demand for managed IT services is surging as companies seek strategic partners to outsource their IT needs. MSPs offer a compelling proposition: delivering high-quality IT services at a lower cost than in-house provision, achieved through economies of scale and specialised expertise.

This value proposition is particularly relevant for AI integration, where the technical and financial barriers can be significant for individual enterprises. Right now, most companies are looking to use AI to optimise existing operations. The productivity and efficiency gains from implementing AI in enterprises are among the most cited benefits. MSPs leverage automation, AI, and ML to provide services that might be beyond the reach of smaller enterprises, both in terms of expertise and infrastructure investment.

Central to the MSP value offering is cloud computing, a cornerstone technology that enables the scalable, flexible deployment of AI-enabled applications. Through cloud platforms, South African businesses can access the computational resources required to train sophisticated AI models, analyse large datasets, and derive actionable insights. The scalability of the cloud ensures that AI initiatives can be adjusted to suit varying demands, from experimental projects to full-scale deployments, without the need for substantial capital investment in physical infrastructure.

Furthermore, MSPs enhance their value proposition with advanced cybersecurity measures powered by AI, which can quickly detect anomalies and potential security breaches, often before human analysts would even notice them. This is because AI can analyze massive amounts of data from various sources, including network traffic, logs, and endpoints, to identify suspicious patterns and behaviours. AI can also learn from past attacks and use that knowledge to improve detection accuracy and speed.

Additionally, MSPs are leveraging AI for predictive maintenance, a proactive approach that involves using data and analytics to predict when hardware or software issues may arise. By identifying potential problems early, MSPs can schedule maintenance activities proactively, avoid unexpected downtime, and ensure that their clients’ systems are always up and running.

Improved efficiency through automation remains another significant advantage of AI in managed services. MSPs must perform various tasks, such as monitoring and managing client infrastructure, responding to support tickets, maintaining system backups, and more. AI can help automate these tasks, freeing up MSPs’ time to focus on more strategic work. For example, AI can automatically monitor client infrastructure for potential issues, such as server load or low-disk space.

Winning with AI collaboration Local businesses can unlock the power of AI and propel themselves to the forefront of their industries by partnering with MSPs. To harness this potential, businesses should collaborate with enterprise IT specialists to explore the available solutions and assess their infrastructure’s readiness to adopt and scale these technologies.

Through this strategic collaboration, South African enterprises can navigate the complexities of AI adoption and position themselves for significant innovation and growth in the era of data-driven decision-making

By Tshepo Motshegoa, Chief Information Officer at SEACOM

The post How does AI fit into your business’s managed IT services? first appeared on IT News Africa | Business Technology, Telecoms and Startup News.

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