The Amazon MayDay button -- live tech support extended directly to Kindle Fire HDX tablets -- has turned the MSP industry on its head. Indeed, managed services providers (MSPs) are checking in with software partners and outsourced NOC providers to see if or how MayDay-type help desk services will come to market. Some pundits are wondering if key offerings like ServiceNow, DeskDirector and ConnectWise's forthcoming ModernOffice Communicator can become the foundation for MayDay-type alternatives in the IT channel.

Chatter about MayDay dominated many back hall conversations at the recent IT Nation conference (Nov. 2013), hosted by ConnectWise in Orlando. Available on Kindle Fire HDX tablets, the MayDay button sounds simple but likely required millions of dollars in R&D, infrastructure and staff training.

According to Amazon, users can:

"simply tap the "Mayday" button to be connected for free to an Amazon expert who can co-pilot you through any feature by drawing on your screen, walking you through how to do something yourself, or doing it for you—whatever works best. Mayday is available 24x7, 365 days a year, and it's free. Throughout the process, you will be able to see your Amazon Tech advisor live on your screen, but they won't see you. 15 seconds or less is the Mayday response time goal."

MayDay: An MSP Panic Button -- Or Opportunity?

The big questions:

  • Will rivals -- Apple iPad, Microsoft Surface, Lenovo, etc. -- roll out similar 24x7 expert support services directly to their respective mobile devices?
  • Where are retail giants like Best Buy in this market? Can the retailer's GeekSquad or mindSHIFT teams ever hope to deliver a similar service -- or would cross-platform device support be too complex for big MSPs and IT service providers?
  • Could major SaaS IT service support platforms like ServiceNow get into this game?
  • Will MSP-centric collaboration tools -- like DeskDirector and ConnectWise's forthcoming ModernOffice Communicator -- deliver MayDay-type capabilities?
  • How will MSP help desk and support pricing potentially evolve as "me-too" services launch and attempt to compete with MayDay?

Guaranteed Success? Nope

Of course, MayDay could fall flat on its face if the service doesn't scale and fails to meet customer expectations. But Amazon has a habit of disrupting markets when you least expect it. Remember, Amazon Web Services quietly launched back in 2006, and is now on pace to generate $1 billion in quarterly recurring revenue.

Perhaps most concerning for MSPs: Each time Amazon makes a disruptive market move, it typically involves a low-margin/high volume model that attracts consumer attention. And those consumers ultimately take their devices, ease-of-use and pricing expectations to work.

We'll be watching to see if or how MSPs respond to MayDay.