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Certain trends seem likely to continue into 2022; MSP success depends on the way they are approached and addressed.
December 21, 2021
Sponsored by Kaseya
If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that trying to predict the future is a fool’s errand. From politics to pandemics to the economy, the only sure thing is that there is no sure thing.
That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t learn from the past and apply those lessons to the future, even when we’re not exactly sure how things will end up. As MSPs look ahead to 2022 and adjust their plans accordingly, there are some trends that seem unlikely to waver, regardless of what tumultuous events come our way. MSP success depends on the way these trends are approached and addressed.
RTO is TBD
While some organizations have embraced remote work by de-emphasizing physical offices or ditching them altogether, most business still want at least some employees to be on-site at least some of the time. Initially, return-to-the-office (RTO) plans focused on schools reopening or vaccine availability, and plenty of companies have already welcomed workers back.
But for businesses able to function well with a remote workforce, delta and omicron have scrambled their risk budgets and calendars, forcing many leaders kicking the can further down the road. This means ringing in the New Year won’t necessarily coincide with a widespread RTO.
Remote work’s semi-permanent state is also influencing how companies spend their IT dollars. Hardware purchases are skewing more heavily toward laptops, in tandem with increases in cloud computing and additional investments in productivity and communication software (and the bandwidth required to support their heavy usage).
MSPs have an important role to play in continuing to help their clients navigate this state of semi-permanent limbo. With a more holistic approach, MSPs can be a trusted partner that helps businesses think more strategically about their approach rather than being purely reactionary.
A Hot Job Market in a Remote World
Businesses can’t find enough people to fill their openings, employees are feeling empowered, and many jobs can now be done from anywhere. This confluence of circumstances is creating turmoil and churn in unprecedented ways.
First, businesses risk losing pretty much any staff member at any time to a more attractive offer or them simply opting out of the workforce for the moment. This means lots of turnover.
When new hires join, they need to get their accounts provisioned and outfitted with equipment, which might be used from their home office more often than at headquarters. This means IT departments have their hands full trying to acquire hardware, ship it out, and get employees appropriate access to required systems. It also means there are brand new employees to train up on the intricacies of their applications and networks, not to mention security protocols.
At the same time, current employees may be walking out the door, requiring shutting off access, retrieving hardware and reshuffling permissions. It also means a lot of institutional knowledge is headed for the exits, and key-man risks are suddenly in the spotlight.
MSPs can help SMBs mitigate the chaos in a few ways. Standardizing and automating routine processes can lighten the workload related to bringing on (and removing) staff. Meanwhile knowledgebases and documentation software can capture as much essential information as possible in an organized fashion, making it easier to navigate when possessors of institutional knowledge depart.
MSPs can also help clients assess their overall staffing strategies, identifying areas where cross-training and redundancy could benefit the organization. Employee training programs are another area where MSPs can provide guidance and content. And don’t forget to right-size SaaS seat licenses whenever the dust settles.
Staff Turnover Impacts MSPs, Too
MSPs don’t only have to worry about their clients’ employees coming and going–their own staff is just as much of a flight risk. Demand for IT professionals is soaring, and any worker with a wandering eye might find more attractive offers await.
While MSPs can perform many of the mitigation tasks above in-house as well, it’s also a chance for MSPs to rethink their own approach to staffing. Bringing on employees from less expensive labor markets is an opportunity to reduce the average cost of headcount and build up a more diverse talent pool.
But even if you’re hiring a systems administrator in Sioux Falls instead of Seattle, be prepared to pay a premium since they’ll no doubt have other bidders for their services. And by investing more in automation and management tools, MSPs will be able to scale more efficiently without having to keep adding on increasingly costly new staffers. Click on Page 2 to continue reading…
Cybercrime Is Here to Stay
Cybercriminals haven’t slowed down their malicious actions just because the world is dealing with a pandemic. Instead, they’re finding a lot more soft targets for their ransomware, phishing scams, and footholds.
MSPs must continually defend their clients from these attacks while increasing the overall awareness and education among their customers’ staff members. Security audits and training programs are critical to creating multiple lines of defense.
MSPs also can’t let their customers get distracted and not provide adequate funding for proactive defense measures, as well as putting in place the proper technology and processes for backup and recovery. Now more than ever, most businesses simply cannot function without their IT systems running like clockwork, so there’s plenty of reasons to invest in this area even though it’s not a particularly exciting line item in the IT budget.
The Supply Chain Will Still Be a Mess
While there seems to be enough toilet paper in stock these days, plenty of other items are still hard to get your hands on. This makes for unpredictable procurement and inflation-driven price spikes on many items and an overall logistical nightmare.
MSPs must be transparent with customers that delays and price increases are inevitable. Longer acceptable lead times and pricing flexibility are worth reviewing both at the business and contractual levels. MSPs might also consider increasing their clients’ inventories–and even their own–on key hardware components.
Your Competition Isn’t Sitting Still
The MSP pie keeps growing, which is attracting more and more players to enter the market, not to mention emboldening current MSPs to grow and expand via acquisitions and mergers. They all know SMBs need their help with IT and are more than willing to take that business, sometimes at a lower cost.
They’re also not above poaching your talent for their own growing workforces, especially since it no longer matters where they live anymore. This forces MSPs to protect their own houses while trying to conquer new territory and hold tight onto the customers they’ve already got.
In a crowded, competitive marketplace, it’s all about differentiation. And while some may prefer a race to the bottom driven by underpricing, the truly smart play is in broadening and refining the services you can offer to clients while improving your own in-house efficiency.
SMBs prefer a one-stop shop for their IT outsourcing, so ensure your portfolio covers all the bases. And when it comes to pricing and profitability, nothing boosts your numbers like being able to manage more seats with the same staff thanks to superior tools and automation.
Expect the Unexpected
At some point in the year to come, MSPs and their customers will once again be thrown for a loop when a new–or returning–disruption comes our way. While oracles and crystal balls and pundits might have their own hunches and hints, what matters most is flexibility and resiliency.
Organizations able to nimbly respond and adjust will come out ahead of those too brittle or stubborn to do the same. Many businesses are increasing their 2022 IT spending because now they know they can’t live without the systems and solutions that have helped them stay afloat during the past two years. MSPs can help them spend those dollars wisely on solutions that match the needs and demands of 2022 and beyond.
Dan Tomaszewski is SVP of Channel & Community, Kaseya.
This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.
Read more about:MSPs
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