April 27, 2022
By John Pagliuca
In many ways, 2022 is shaping up to look a lot like 2021 and the post-pandemic “new normal” work environment doesn’t look like it’s going away.
As such, businesses are facing headwinds that include increased IT complexity, labor scarcity and rising cyberthreats. However, reverse the lens and you can view these not as headwinds, but as tailwinds presenting long-term opportunities for managed service providers and their technology partners.
Think of IT complexity as the concept of “hybrid everything.” In a work-from-anywhere world, small to midsize enterprises (SMEs) rely on managed service providers to manage IT workloads, digital assets and identities across the on-prem and public cloud environments. Second, labor scarcity limits SMEs from self-managing their own IT stacks and serves as a catalyst for outsourcing their IT management and security to MSPs. Third, given the proliferation of security threats, cyberthreat management is now a core risk-management function. Empowered by a security stack provided by technology partners, MSPs can mitigate risk and further secure their end customers’ environments.
Managing IT Complexity
MSPs have a golden opportunity to support customers’ continuing digital transformation by helping them manage and simplify IT operations.
To this purpose, MSPs will invest in more automation in 2022 and share that investment with their customers to bring them better, more proactive IT services. With the adoption and continuation of work-from-home and the hybrid office, MSPs will further rely on their technology partners to enable them to support any device securely and flexibly — anywhere and in any combination.
Alleviating Labor Scarcity
We’re saying goodbye to the days when the internal IT leader saw the MSP as a threat. Today’s MSP offers a collaborative approach to solving for labor scarcity and secure IT management for ventures ranging from midmarket companies to large, publicly held enterprises. A smart IT leader sees this and engages with the MSP to co-manage their IT assets in the work-from-anywhere-on-anything environment.
Staffing shortages apply to MSPs as well as their end customers. Again, automation is the key to success here. By automating more processes, MSPs can increase their efficiency and do more with fewer staff. This efficiency translates to better, more streamlined service to their customers. MSPs can also lean into the communities they play in and partner strategically with select peers and providers to bring added sales strength, scale and expertise to their sales and support cycles.
MSPs can win on two fronts in the fight against cyberattacks: managing threat-defense processes and executing data-protection practices. By more closely partnering with technology vendors, MSPs can offer their end customers deep-bench expertise in the most advanced security solutions. Enterprises will respond favorably to having this level of knowledge at the ready, which results in customer wins and retention.
Within the work-from-anywhere environment, endpoint data protection and response (EDR) is one of the areas in which MSPs can offer high value-add. Since a hybrid workforce is introducing more endpoints into the environment every day, a solid EDR platform must be an essential customer service.
As the market continues to shift toward cloud-native infrastructure, MSPs can also add great value by offering cloud-native data protection as-a-service. This solution can provide complete protection across endpoint devices, servers and Microsoft 365 via a unified console in a single pane of glass.
Given the heightened risk environment, almost all (90%) MSPs have experienced a successful cyberattack of some sort in the last 18 months. EDR and backup are service sectors in which MSPs can significantly grow their business by integrating the most advanced security platform into their portfolios and backing that up with ongoing service and support. MSPs also need security offerings to deploy that are scalable and repeatable across their customer base. In more good news, the majority of SMEs, seven in every 10, are planning to increase their security budget. For MSPs, this means a big opportunity is available.
MSPs can convert the headwinds of IT complexity, labor scarcity and cyberthreats into tailwinds by taking a few steps now. Refreshing your portfolio is critical. If an MSP hasn’t addressed fully the move to Microsoft 365 or hasn’t offered a tenable co-managed IT agreement to a customer, they’re losing out on an increased revenue stream and greater customer retention.
Re-evaluating the technology stack — considering more threat risk at the endpoint — is another step to take to remain competitive and win new business. The products and platforms are available to strengthen the MSP’s cybersecurity offerings to the end customer.
Looking ahead, MSPs themselves are getting more complex. These consolidated, sophisticated companies want robust, scalable, smart solutions to deliver to customers and help them navigate through the “new normal” environment. There’s still more business to be had by those MSPs well-positioned to offer not only technology but strategic answers to IT management, data protection and security.
John Pagliuca brings over 20 years of leadership experience to his role as president and CEO of N-able, formerly SolarWinds MSP, with a significant focus on the software and SaaS marketplace. Previously he was executive vice president of SolarWinds and president of SolarWinds MSP, which he joined with the acquisition of LOGICNow, where he served as chief financial officer. He also served as vice president of finance and operations of GFI Software and vice president of finance for Airvana, a mobile data software company. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @Nable on Twitter.
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