Transactional to Transformational: The Evolving Role of the MSP in 2021

Leverage MSPs' technical expertise in your company's digital transformation.

August 10, 2021

4 Min Read

By Tom Kiblin


Tom Kiblin

Business leaders must understand both the technological needs of their organization in the present, how these needs will evolve in the next five, 10 and even 20 years, and they must be prepared to pivot to make it happen.

Traditionally, managed service providers (MSPs) have been trusted to fulfill a set of predetermined tasks to support their clients. This is no longer enough. Organizations now must leverage their MSP’s technical expertise as they prepare their business for the next stage in its digital transformation journey.

The Old Way: MSPs as a Vendor

In the past, MSPs were siloed off from clients’ overarching digital initiatives and processes. Engagement was limited to the specific tasks listed in their contract, whether that be in cloud infrastructure, data centers, networking/connectivity, consulting, or software development.

This old vendor model limited the scope and depth of an MSP’s engagement and its visibility into a client’s digital infrastructure. The shift from performing a transactional service to generating (and implementing) transformational strategies is at the heart of the MSP’s evolving role.

In other words, with the old way, organizations would pay for the experience of an MSP without fully using – and benefitting – from that experience. Wasting that expertise is costly, to the bottom line and to your organization’s future success.

The Role of MSPs in the Digital Transformation Boom

Companies know they must operate efficiently and strategically. Today, however, demand for evolving technology has outpaced in-house capabilities for most organizations.

This reveals the utility of an MSP. An MSP ensures deliverables will be completed swiftly, while offering a road map for future success. But businesses can only achieve this success when they extend trust and resources to their MSP.

The New Way: MSPs as a Trusted Adviser

The value proposition of an MSP hinges on a few key concepts: experience, efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

In practice, this may look like an MSP implementing high-availability functionality or elasticity to your cloud infrastructure, or initiating an additional series of performance and cost management tests for your data. Regardless of the requirements, an MSP is able to dig deeper in three key ways:

  • MSPs can help you jumpstart your digital transformation. MSPs benefit organizations with their plug-and-play support and other developmental resources. As noted by Tech Target, MSPs hire talented tech professionals from a slew of different backgrounds. This ability to draw upon the expertise of tech specialists can expedite a company’s digital transformation without the need to upskill current staff or embark on a hiring spree.

  • MSPs save you time and capital. Because of their existence in the broader tech space, MSPs are capable of seeing the bigger picture while zeroing in on ways to eliminate redundancies.

According to Grand View Research, the global managed services market size was valued at $215.14 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 12.7% from 2021 to 2028.

This indicates that MSPs are growing rapidly because business leaders recognize the utility in experience and that proficiency breeds efficiency. It just takes less time and fewer resources to bring in experts than it does to build out your own team.

  • MSPs foster innovation. Within a partnership model, MSPs possess the ability to advise on forecasted technological trends. This can work to shore up something like security frameworks within a client’s existing software or refine change management.

A true trusted adviser will push a client out of their comfort zone in pursuit of their most critical objectives. This consultative position is crucial for companies that are struggling with a mandate to undergo a rapid digital transformation.

Simply stated, there’s not enough time to interview, hire, onboard and assign the slew of different tech professionals needed to complete this mission. You cannot hire enough talent fast enough. The collaboration between an MSP and a business is often central to completing large-scale tasks within the required time frame. Today, MSPs aren’t just helpful, they’re essential.

The Partnership You Need on Your Digital Transformation Journey

Trust is key to the relationship between businesses and MSPs. Specifically, a business needs to maintain trust in the MSP’s expertise. In any healthy relationship, there exists a push and pull. A company’s goals and an MSP’s game plan must work in tandem.

Open lines of communication and frequent, honest collaboration will limit mistakes and redundancies. Due to the transactional model, an MSP’s integral role in advancing companies along their digital transformation journey was previously under-realized. Mutual trust between an organization and its MSP will improve its ability to execute and deliver tangible results.

The evolving role of an MSP is a net asset for companies. With an increased focus on digital transformation comes an increased urgency to achieve it. MSPs help articulate and execute this transformation as business leaders position their companies for the future.

Tom Kiblin is the vice president of cloud and managed services at Deft, which recently rebranded from ServerCentral  Turing Group. Deft offers cloud-native software development, AWS consulting, cloud infrastructure and global data center services. You may follow Kiblin on LinkedIn or @ServerCentral on Twitter.

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