Industry trends MSPs need to get their heads around - fast!
MSPs have a responsibility to be up to speed on emerging industry trends and adapting to new technologies. These activities are critical to ensuring that the MSP remains perpetually valuable to customers and profitable as a business.
The challenge often lies in finding a balance between managing the business through multiple change cycles and maintaining control of all assets.
In addition to streamlining current configurations and processes, MSPs must be aware of new technologies, remain flexible, and understand when it makes sense to move forward with portfolio changes or investments.
There are a number of trends impacting customers today that MSPs need to be on top of to meet customer expectations and to avoid falling behind the competition.
Windows 10 is an impressive operating system, but MSPs are still required to secure and protect customer data within the system, especially with features such as single sign-on and two-factor authentication.
MSPs should ensure that customers are aware of what the Windows 10 update means for their organisation and the business value that would result from implementing it.
They also need to be prepared to answer questions regarding security features, compatibility and deployment to provide customers with a smooth transition.
This has the potential to fundamentally change the way in which MSPs deliver service to their clients. While machine learning currently remains a relatively unexplored territory for MSPs, cloud IT service management platform providers with access to community intelligence hold the key to success for deriving real business value from data.
By leveraging community insights, IT service providers have the ability to gain access to real time data-driven insights derived from data points collected from the many devices managed by MSPs utilising that IT management platform.
MSPs should make understanding and deriving benefit from machine learning a priority in the coming year as it will enable them to dramatically improve services and increase the value they provide without huge investments and timescales.
Internet of Things
The rise of the Internet of Things is just one example of how greater internetworking among common devices is generating more data and endpoints that need to be secured, and presents a strong opportunity for MSPs.
IDC predicts that the global market for Internet of Things devices and services will exceed $7 trillion by 2020. With all the hype around IoT today, it's hard to determine what aspects of the concept are realistic and practicable.
MSPs need to learn about the benefits and pitfalls of IoT before it reaches its full potential. It's important to begin the education process now to develop the most effective strategy and implementation approach.
According to a recent Mobile Analytics Report, the total number of enterprise mobile devices worldwide increased by 72% last year. MSPs need to master cloud-based deployment and enterprise mobility management to address the growing number of employees conducting work outside of the office.
Simply provisioning each device is not enough. MSPs need to deploy enterprise mobility solutions that provide the right tools to remotely manage devices.
Consumerisation of IT
Workers are continuing to introduce 'consumer market' technologies and devices to the workplace, and it's changing the way employees and businesses view information.
According to a recent IDG study, the proliferation of personal devices being used for work purposes has required 82% of organisations to make changes such as creating policies on corporate data sharing and purchasing solutions to address these challenges.
MSPs should provide a solution that delivers complete visibility into all network layers and addresses security concerns.
Organisations often require guidance to steer their business in the right direction for IT strategy and operations. Rather than hiring an in-house IT staff member, more and more organisations are turning to virtual CIOs when they need IT expertise on an as-needed basis.
It's extremely helpful to have a trusted IT business partner to bridge the organisation's technology gap and strategically align technology with business goals.
MSPs should focus on exactly what the client wants, as there is often a major disconnect between what services IT departments want to buy and what IT service providers are trying hardest to sell.
According to a recent research report, 71% of IT service providers want a more strategically-focused customer relationship - but only 13% of IT departments feel the same.
Becoming a trusted virtual CIO means more than just sharing technical expertise, it means aligning the MSP vision to give IT departments exactly what they need.
By Alistair Forbes, LogicNow general manager