Predictions for 2019: Cybersecurity, Specialization and Overcoming Objections
It was no surprise that cybersecurity and industry consolidation continued to be hot topics for the IT channel in 2018. Looking into the future, I don’t expect much to change in this regard. But, how channel partners adapt to and address these challenges could make all the difference when it comes to driving success.
There is no doubt that in the coming year, channel partners will need to identify new ways to work smarter and faster to meet the needs of their customers, along with the demands of what is becoming a very dynamic and crowded marketplace. While no one knows exactly how trends will manifest themselves, here are four predictions for MSPs in 2019:
- Email security will continue to dominate the threat landscape.Attacks that target the individual–such as phishing, spear phishing and business email compromise–are increasing. Further, cyberattacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Today, we are seeing a growing number of hackers turning to social engineering techniques to increase their success. One example of this is account-based takeover. Typically resulting from a successful phishing attempt, DNS redirect attack, etc., an account takeover attack happens when users shares their credentials, giving hackers access to their accounts. Phishing attacks aren’t just confined to email anymore; we are seeing them penetrate into voice and text communications.
- Cybersecurity education will be key to mitigating threats and vulnerabilities.While email security is expected to remain a top priority in the coming year, the ability to spot dangerous websites; knowing how to leverage VPNs when protecting personal and company data while using open networks; knowing how to protect against vulnerabilities related to BYOD; the proper use of anti-malware and antivirus solutions; and general security awareness are also very important to overall cybersecurity health. To help customers achieve the best overall cybersecurity posture, MSPs and solution providers will need to identify ways to better educate customers on these types of exploits. Solutions that provide security awareness training and phishing simulation, for example, can help users learn how to identify these attacks and avoid falling victim to them.
- Differentiation will happen through vertical focus.According to the CompTIA report 7th State of the Channel: Trends in the Technology Ecosystem, 72 percent of channel companies surveyed reported that customer demand is their primary reason for offering emerging technologies. Further, according to the study, customer demand is also driving vertical industry specialization by channel partners (62 percent). By specializing in a niche vertical such as healthcare, retail, legal services, government, or education, MSPs and solution providers can further differentiate themselves from the competition in the coming year.
- Pricing on value will lead to greater success in overcoming objections.One of the most common challenges facing MSPs today is convincing their SMB customers and prospects to stop dragging their feet when it comes to moving beyond break-fix services and start considering a managed service offering. Common objections include the price of managed services and a lack of understanding or awareness of how it can help the customer’s business. One of the best ways MSPs can overcome objections voiced by their SMB customers and prospects is to change the conversation by focusing on value rather than price. It is common knowledge that SMBs will want to spend as little as possible on their IT services. This, however, can leave them open to security vulnerabilities or risk for data loss–which can end up being more expensive than hiring an MSP in the first place, due to hefty fines imposed from HIPAA and other security-related compliance violations. That’s why it’s so important that, in the coming year, MSPs and solution providers position their managed services as an investment, not simply a cost center, for their SMB customers and prospects. MSPs should educate their customers on the advantages to moving to managed services, understand and be able to address the unique needs of the customer, and be prepared to overcome objections such as “I can’t afford it” by explaining to the customer why the customer can’t afford the negative consequences that come with not investing in the services. There will always be customers who are skeptical about managed services, but by leveraging the value afforded by the services to overcome objections, MSPs will be well on their way to success.
It is a very exciting time to be in and around the IT channel, and the future holds great promise for MSPs and solution providers. Those who take note of and, more importantly, act on these emerging trends will be well on their way to achieving success in 2019 and beyond.
Neal Bradbury is Senior Director of Business Development for Barracuda MSP, a provider of security and data protection solutions for managed services providers, where he is responsible for generating greater business value for the company’s MSP partner community and alliance partners.
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