The need to conduct business from anywhere has made enterprises more technology-reliant. Enter co-managed IT.

January 12, 2021

4 Min Read
Two people in a data center

By Rob Rae


Rob Rae

Enterprises have been in the midst of digital transformation (DX) for years, but until now there was a lack of urgency to fully see it through. For better or for worse, DX efforts were accelerated in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring enterprises to shift their strategies to meet the new demands. They had to reevaluate their business and IT strategies to support their internal teams and customers, and continue to operate at the same speed and scale as they did pre-pandemic. And, if a global pandemic disrupting businesses isn’t enough, cyberattacks are on the rise. Threat actors lurk in the background waiting for an opportune moment to take advantage of the already fragile state businesses are in.

Now more than ever, the need to conduct business from anywhere has made enterprises more technology-reliant. However, they lack the resources, time, and expertise required to manage the increasingly complex technology landscape. They face real challenges from critical business threats like:

  • Ransomware attacks

  • Network outages

  • Server failures

  • Natural disasters

They also face everyday problems like:

  • Accidental or malicious data deletions by employees

  • Outdated hardware and software

  • Complexity of new technology choices

Co-Managed IT & Digital Transformation

Enter co-managed IT, an IT model that blends the convenience and strategic framework of an internal IT manager with the support and comprehensive knowledge of a managed-service provider (MSP). Together, an enterprises’ IT staff and an MSP can augment IT roles to create proactive and reactive IT management.

The unique situation most enterprises find themselves in right now presents a new opportunity for MSPs. In a recent Canalys survey, nearly 60% of IT channel respondents said that adoption of co-managed IT services had increased during the pandemic. To fully capitalize on it, MSPs need to adapt the way they market, sell, and deliver these services.

How to Market and Raise Awareness for Co-Managed IT Offerings

Effectively marketing co-managed IT services takes research and time to truly understand a business’ needs. MSPs must adapt, showcase, and build modernized relationship models that are sustainable, cost-effective, scalable, and fit within their target markets.

In addition to traditional white papers, case studies, product videos and data sheets, MSPs should have open conversations with clients in order to truly understand their specific needs and address them through a co-managed IT service. By MSPs focusing on those needs in addition to providing specific skill sets that can address overall market needs, MSPs can ensure a positive customer experience resulting in good reviews, amplifying their marketing strategy further.

How to Sell Co-Managed IT

Selling co-managed-IT offerings is more complex than selling a completely outsourced IT strategy. In a co-managed model, MSPs sell to both the internal IT team and the finance director that the IT team reports to.

When selling to the internal IT team, MSPs need to ensure they don’t appear as a threat to job security, but rather as an extension of the team. They need to instill confidence in the IT team and make it clear the MSP will work alongside the IT department. Finance directors’ main driver to hiring an MSP is to add support and resilience in the most cost-efficient way possible. To sell to them, MSPs need to demonstrate their value add through proper reporting and have an open dialogue on pricing structures and key findings from an initial internal audit.

How to Deliver Co-Managed IT

After MSPs have developed their marketing and sales strategy, the next step is actually delivering the offering. While no two co-managed IT strategies are the same, they can include a variety of efforts tailored to the individual businesses’ needs, which may include, but are not limited to:

  • A basic IT help desk

  • End-user ticketing

  • Security

  • Cloud and digitalization support

  • On-site technical support

Beyond the pandemic and the acceleration of DX, enterprises outsource their IT under a co-managed model for a variety of reasons, including to fill an internal skills gap and to address cost efficiency concerns and security issues. This is why it is critical for MSPs to have open conversations with their end-users to determine where gaps exist and how to best support the organization’s needs.

The world has changed forever due to the 2020 pandemic. As such, it’s critical that MSPs take a look at the landscape they are in and how it will impact the future. They need to make a choice — adapt and become resilient or settle and remain comfortable with how IT has been managed for decades. Those that are willing to adapt and build new models will come out of the pandemic stronger and equipped to take on whatever challenges arise.

Rob Rae is senior vice president of business development with Datto, Rae oversees various aspects of Datto’s programs including events, marketing development funds, vendor management and partner advisory board, all with the goal of helping the company’s partners grow.

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