Six Managed Services Trends You've Overlooked

MSPmentor spent most of this day mingling with managed services providers at the N-able Partner Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona. Much of the chatter involved opportunities and challenges that weren't on the radar at last year's N-able Partner Summit. So, what's the chatter? Here are six managed services trends worth watching,

1. Five Year Fatigue: At least one well-known executive here says some MSPs are suffering from five-year entrepreneurial fatigue. Specifically, many MSPs started with the managed services business model about five years ago, and those MSPs figured they would have lofty valuations or would have cashed out by now. But alas, the valuations or exit strategies have yet to work out, triggering five-year entrepreneurial fatigue.

2. Hit the Road: MSPs here are trying to figure out if or how to charge customers for mobile device support. Some MSPs are shifting to per-user pricing -- charging a single monthly fee to manage every device that a user leverages for work. Other MSPs are investigating encryption and device-wipe services for smart phones, tablets and netbooks.

3. Customer Acquisition: Some MSPs are discovering that the fastest way to expand a customer base is to acquire rival MSPs or resellers. N-able VP Mike Cullen plans to show me the background metrics on Friday, Oct. 22. I'll be back with more thoughts at that time.

4. Office 365: It's a new brand. And maybe even a new threat. Microsoft announced Office 365 -- the SaaS successor to BPOS -- a few days ago. But everyone here at the N-able Partner Summit is talking about Office 365, and in many cases attendees are concerned about continued pricing pressure due to the Microsoft vs. Google war. What's Microsoft's stance? We'll find out on Oct. 22, when Microsoft participates in a cloud panel here.

5. Pay for Performance: When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, some MSPs are paying nothing -- zero dollars -- up front when they acquire rival VARs and MSPs. Instead, the buyout includes a conversion metric, awarding the seller a fixed fee (i.e., commission) for each customer that makes the transition to the buyer's managed services model.

6. Cisco's Next Move: You heard it here first. Cisco Systems is preparing some sort of managed services tool or platform. Sources say the platform will emphasize VoIP and unified communications management, particularly for MSPs serving small and midsize customers. We're checking in with Cisco for details.

That's all for now. Check back in with us on Oct. 22. We'll have complete coverage of a cloud computing panel featuring Microsoft, Google, Avnet and Rackspace.

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