When we think of managed services, we typically think of IT services, like systems management, network monitoring, etc. Indeed there is an army of MSPs (managed service providers) out there providing 24/7 services to SMBs and SMEs worldwide, either on a client’s premises or in the MSP’s data center. Moreover, it is also worth noting the current MSP market is over $100B in size. For many organizations, it’s a good deal as they have neither the in-house skills nor appetite to staff to run and secure complex server environments. However, an equally good case exists for engaging a third-party MSP to run AI, Search, and modern KM systems.
The raison d’etre of MSPs is that they have the skills and operational ability to undertake specialized work around the clock that most firms don’t have or want to have in-house. Few midsized organizations have the time, resources, or skills to effectively or efficiently manage search or AI. Even if they want to hire skilled staff, they will struggle as there is a severe shortage and wide variability in the actual skills available in the market. Modern KM systems that rely on underlying search, AI, and ML technologies are similarly hard to maintain and run over time. And therein lies the challenge, you cannot switch on a search, AI, or modern KM system and walk away. They need love and skilled attention to continually curate, monitor, and manage. Otherwise, they tend to go awry. Systems that deliver accurate and valuable results in the short term without careful supervision will stray, and their value and accuracy will decrease.
Multiple enterprise search vendors use some form of the phrase “people just want it to be like Google.” Yes, they do, but they will not get that if they don’t invest in advanced technologies and, just as importantly, the skills and long-term commitment to deliver on such a promise. Similarly, AI systems drive complex decision-making, such as processing a loan application or providing accurate and timely answers to customer support inquiries. They also require the same long-term commitment to stay relevant and valuable. Specialized MSPs may be the answer, and to be clear, some, though not that many, already exist (particularly for Elasticsearch), but not many. And as advanced AI (think neural networks and Deep Learning) start to play a more significant role in these applications, one would hope more will become available.