The growing need for security expertise combined with a cyber talent shortage give security-centric MSPs a distinct advantage.

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As we approach the end of another year of pandemic living and read the economic tea leaves for 2022, it’s important to remember that while there have been significant ups and downs in the business environment, the fundamentals for MSPs have remained consistent. Security is a critical concern, and MSPs that haven’t shifted to a security-centric focus will be left behind.

We think several key trends will be vital as we head into 2022. First, of course, if we learned anything over the past two years, is that you never know what might happen. But for MSPs, that uncertainty can unlock new opportunities with small and midsize businesses (SMBs). Those include:

Security will remain top of mind.

The shift to remote and mobile work environments has continued as the lingering pandemic kept many employees from returning to the office. In some cases, the remote work option will remain permanent as companies try to leverage flexible work schedules to accommodate current employees and attract new ones.

With the hybrid work transition, cybercriminals took advantage of less-secure network connections. That has made it more apparent to many companies that they don’t have the resources internally to protect their apps and networks sufficiently. As more SMBs become aware of growing cyber risks, MSPs will continue acquiring new clients. With the increasing number of emerging threats, security-centric MSPs and solution providers ready to help organizations respond to cyber crises have a distinct advantage.

However, there are still many challenges facing MSPs attempting to position themselves as security-centric providers. For example, there is a massive cyber security talent gap, and it can be difficult to effectively manage the various components and vendors required for a robust cybersecurity offering.

We anticipate that MSPs that standardize their cybersecurity offerings will see lower operating costs because they’ll have to respond to fewer incidents and generate more monthly recurring revenue and higher margins.

MSPs can play a more prominent role in helping companies navigate the evolving cybersecurity landscape.

 We believe that every MSP will have to be security-first to succeed.

Right now, most SMBs have no one to call if they have a cybersecurity problem. Without internal resources or an existing infrastructure to fall back on in the event of a breach, MSPs are positioned to be the very first call when there’s an attack or a breach.

There is growing awareness about security risks among SMBs, and we predict that MSPs will see an increase in emergency security calls in the future. That will be true even for MSPs that haven’t actively pursued security business, since clients have few, if any, other options. But, ready or not, MSPs are the only organizations with the connections and the equipment to help SMBs address their cybersecurity challenges.

The cybersecurity skills shortage will continue to be a challenge for clients (and an opportunity for MSPs).

Labor shortages have been a hot topic across almost every industry this year, and the effects of the pandemic economy on the labor force have exacerbated the existing shortage of qualified security professionals. We see the cybersecurity skills shortage becoming even more challenging in 2022.

The demand for individuals with years of experience in cybersecurity (like CISOs and infosec directors) is increasing exponentially. However, there simply aren’t enough individuals with the appropriate level of relevant experience to meet security hiring demands. As a result, it will take a long time–and a lot of training–to fill the pipeline.

Many clients don’t fully understand what this means. Because this talent gap exists, businesses can’t get the help they need, even if they want to. So, an SMB may be well aware that they need to invest in cybersecurity personnel, but no qualified applicants are available. And if they are, they may not be available at a price most SMBs can afford. This is creating opportunity for MSPs, who alongside cybersecurity partners (like Barracuda), can fill this talent gap.

The experiences of the past two years have helped prepare MSPs for the growing demand for cybersecurity solutions and expertise, along with the need for services around cloud solutions and remote computing. While many companies were caught flat-footed in 2020, the past year has allowed everyone to adjust to new business realities and reassess their capabilities and IT needs. MSPs that invest in security-centric product offerings will continue to reap the rewards.

Neal Bradbury is Vice President, MSP Strategic Partnerships, for Barracuda MSP, a provider of security and data protection solutions for managed services providers. Bradbury is responsible for generating greater business value for the company’s MSP partner community and alliance partners.

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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