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MSP Technology to Watch as a New Decade Dawns

Ten years ago, many technologies we now take for granted either didn’t exist or were still in their infancy. Here’s what the next 10 years may hold.

Kaseya Guest Blogger

December 18, 2019

7 Min Read
Hand change wooden cubes with New year 2019 to 2020 concept.
Getty Images

It’s the end of one decade and the dawn of the next. Let’s step back from the day-to-day firefighting and crises to consider how far we’ve come in the past 10 years, as well as what the future holds for the next 10.

When we flipped our calendars to January 2010, many technologies we now take for granted either didn’t exist or were still in their infancy. The first iPad was still months from release. There were no electric cars on the streets, much less slick-looking Teslas. We had no idea who Siri was. There were no Chromebooks flying off the shelves of Best Buy.

Closer to the world of MSPs, many of today’s givens hadn’t yet made their debuts. Microsoft Office 365 was still years away. Massive thefts of millions of credentials were unheard of. Ransomware sounded like clothing for kidnappers.

Shifts We’ve Seen

Much has changed since 2010, but these are the areas that have impacted MSPs the most during this time.

  • Cloud computing

Amazon and then Google had already dipped their toes into the world of cloud computing, but Microsoft launched Azure in February 2010. Cloud computing was no longer just for scrappy startups and disruptors.

At that time, 60% of companies were considering using the cloud. Today 94% of companies aren’t just considering it; they’re already doing it.

  • Cyberattacks and data breaches

One trend we all wish hadn’t happened this past decade is the relentless onslaught of cybercrime. While there was plenty of digital wrongdoing in the years prior, these incidents unfortunately dominated industry headlines and even influenced national politics.

This decade saw an increase in incidents and a shift in their nature. In 2010, the biggest problem was privilege misuse (48% of incidents), followed by hacking (40%), malware (38%), social tactics (28%) and physical attacks (15%).

Ten years later, progress has been made on many of those fronts. Privilege misuse plummeted to 15% of incidents, malware is down to 28%, and physical attacks dropped to 4%. However, hacking is a bigger problem than ever (used in 52% of incidents), and social tactics increased to 33%.

  • Software-as-a-service

SaaS products existed before 2010 (such as Salesforce.com), but this decade saw the disruptive business model really take hold. Switching to monthly or annual billing (versus a large up-front payment with smaller support fees) is now the standard.

In 2010, SaaS was a $10.4 billion industry; today, it’s surpassed $100 billion. We’re now more comfortable than ever treating technology purchases like a utility. This has lowered the barrier to entry for new players (since they’re now asking for short up-front dollars) and shifted these expenditures from CapEx to OpEx.

For vendors, it’s also changed how they deliver services and treat their customers. Managing churn and ensuring ongoing customer delight and satisfaction is the status quo since customers are no longer locked in after making a large upfront purchase.

  • IT skills in demand

As technology has evolved, so have the jobs required to build and support it. Many tasks once requiring expertise have been automated, such as installation, configuration, maintenance and administration.

The skills now in short supply tend to fall into three buckets: cybersecurity; analytics and data management; and help desk and technical support. Luckily, these are exactly the types of skills SMBs can outsource to MSPs.

  • Project management

Agile was invented much earlier, but in the past 10 years it’s gained a firm foothold beyond software development. Businesses in every industry have abandoned waterfall processes to more nimbly respond to their dynamic needs and optimize resource allocation.

IT has likewise ditched slow, plodding projects, migrating to smaller, more frequent releases and bite-sized initiatives that help organizations achieve their long-term goals. The increasing reliance on IT to support daily operations has only increased their need to be more responsive and deliver iterative value to the rest of the business as quickly as possible.

Looking Ahead to the ’20s

Reviewing the big shifts of the previous decade, it’s clear there have been some fundamental changes in how businesses operate, the challenges they face, and where MSPs can add value. When things transform so radically and quickly, it comes with a learning curve many businesses are still catching up on.

  • A not-so-silver lining

Lots of organizations have migrated essential services and storage to the cloud. Yet they often don’t realize this move doesn’t fully protect them from some of the same threats that exist in a hosted environment. Cloud-based systems can still be hacked, compromised credentials can still be used, and backup and data recovery are still needed.

To protect their assets and mission-critical systems, SMBs must increase their vigilance and preparation for potential calamities to minimize any disruption. Scanning the Dark Web for stolen usernames, passwords and customer data, monitoring their systems for unusual login activities and traffic patterns, and staying vigilant when it comes to security patches and upgrades is essential given the rise in hacking as the most common source of data breaches.

Backup and disaster recovery are also often overlooked when businesses move to the cloud. They assume their cloud providers have that covered. But, in reality, cloud providers often don’t provide comprehensive solutions and offer limited (or very expensive) backup storage, necessitating additional services to augment the default package.

  • Spoiled for choice

While the choices, options and flexibility SaaS solutions offer are great, the volume and diversity of vendors and third-party systems that organizations rely on also presents complications. Without single sign-on, employees are forced to remember (and potentially reuse) dozens of credentials. This exponentially increases the chances of those credentials being compromised.

Businesses also may not realize every solution in their technology stack won’t play nicely with the others or be as easy to manage. This is where MSPs can provide value as trusted advisors, steering customers to proven, interoperable solutions providing the capabilities clients need without sacrificing security or quality.

  • Living in a regulated world

While HIPAA and PCI are nothing new, more recent and upcoming protections for PII (Personally Identifiable Information) such as GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act are putting regulatory compliance on the radar of every business, regardless of their industry. Increased enforcement (and the accompanying fines) are a wake-up call that data must be protected, and businesses must take (and document) preventative measures to improve their defenses.

Navigating this new reality and properly chronicling it in detail are tasks that typically fall outside the area of expertise for business operators. This represents another growing, ongoing opportunity for MSPs to save the day, increase their revenues and ingratiating themselves with customers.

  • Crime still pays

If the last decade taught us anything, it’s that our data and digital systems are more vulnerable than ever to bad actors. Everything is now connected to the Internet, creating more holes to plug, firewalls to reinforce and protections to put in place and keep the wolves at the door.

Every time security professionals lock down a point of entry, cybercriminals will bust down another previously closed door. The whack-a-mole game will continue, and SMBs will need MSPs to guide them and help protect their data and services.

The Decade of Diversification

The decade to come is full of opportunities for MSPs. The importance of IT will continue to increase, and more businesses will be dependent on it. More firms will look for outside help to manage IT complexities and challenges, and MSPs will reap the benefits.

But the scope of services MSPs provide must also grow. This requires continuous training and education for staff and bringing more proficiency and solutions inhouse. Expansion of recurring revenue is there for the taking if MSPs are prepared to deliver a broader portfolio of outsourced services.

Luckily, MSPs can combine their subject matter expertise with great tools and platforms for managing an increasing number of services for larger and more varied clientele. Just like MSPs must widen their scope, they need tools that can do the same.

Platforms that scale and fill multiple needs will trump a buffet of point solutions that don’t interoperate and require specific training. They’ll also help MSPs administer a wider array of offerings while maintaining an affordable price point for budget strapped SMBs.

We’re excited to see where the next decade takes us all and look forward to continuing to provide MSPs with the support and products they need to serve their customers. Happy New Year!

Jim Lippie is GM & SVP, Partner Development.

 

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

 

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