Four Ways MSPs Can Future Proof Their Profits

Make no mistake, managed services have gone mainstream. Prices are moving downward, and commoditisation – along with new competition – has hit the market in a big way. New technologies, from mobile computing to the cloud and more, are also impacting businesses of all sizes. And, you can expect even more transitions ahead: experts say we’ll be seeing more changes in the MSP market in the next two years than we’ve seen over the last 15 years. Mike Cullen, Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Business Strategy, N-able at SolarWinds told Comms Business why MSPs should future proof their profits now.

As this perfect storm of disruption hits, how can you get ready? Here are four ways to future proof your profits and grow your managed services business, no matter how much chaos is taking place in the world around you:

Get ahead of the Cloud:  The cloud is having a massive impact on the managed services market. But rather than taking away from the MSP’s role, it offers a chance for MSPs to provide value as confusion abounds across the IT landscape. Whether your clients go with a public, private or hybrid cloud arrangement, the opportunity exists for MSPs to give them direction and simplify the ongoing implementation and management of cloud services. That’s because, the truth is, we’re all finding out cloud is not as easy as it looks, or as simple to implement as the big providers claim. What’s becoming clear is that the good MSPs will embrace cloud and show their customers how to get it done – and get it done efficiently and cost effectively.

Go Mobile or Go Home: Mobile computing is more than just mobile device management (MDM). It’s a movement that is bringing lots of opportunities to MSPs – and lots of complexity to IT – by extending the capability for users to compute across their smart phones and various portable devices. So where do MSPs come in? Your first job is to adapt accordingly. Managed service contracts are evolving to focus on a price per device per month model, representing a new way of doing business that embraces the end user’s ability to compute anywhere and anytime. The key is that individuals are demanding more choice from IT in exchange for their agreement to conduct business at all hours from their mobile devices. This choice simply can’t be dictated by IT any more, and consequently, it has become critical for IT to be able to support any device at any time, and MSPs must be able to support that mode of doing business as well. Whether users are working in the office, at home or while traveling, and whether they’re conducting business first thing in the morning or up until all hours of the night, MSPs must be able to support this anytime-anywhere uptime requirement – and that means they must implement a pricing model that is based upon a price per device per month.

Stand out from the crowd: New competitors, from telco providers and copier companies to mega-software firms, are making a big migration to the managed services marketplace because it is lucrative and profitable. These big vendors have lots of cash and buying power. MSPs will need to adapt to stay relevant. They’ll need to craft a cloud and mobile computing strategy that is customised to the client’s needs, and to automate their services to scale their businesses to meet the challenges of commoditisation. In addition, MSPs will also need to re-define the value of their services. Another way to differentiate, whether in cloud or otherwise, is to go vertical. This will take some of the complexity out of moving your focus to the cloud if you start one step at a time, or one market at a time. For differentiation, MSPs must also be able to support 50-60% of their services through automation, from assessing and onboarding new clients, to establishing a baseline, and monitoring, managing and mitigating their IT environments.

Embrace the Value Shift: Transactional value in the MSP market is already starting to shift from devices to end users. Computing anytime and anywhere to enhance productivity is now essential. Data access from multiple devices is also critical. With Office 365, for example, you buy the software for multiple devices and can then use it on whichever devices you want.  Accordingly, as employees take on more work, there will be an opportunity for MSPs to charge more to support them. It’s no longer about infrastructure – it’s about the end user experience. Change your business to align with this movement. The MSP has got to play the role of trusted advisor when it comes to change and keep in mind, customers won’t go to cloud and other technologies at the same rate.

While MSPs clearly have a lot to contend with in the market today, they too must also turn to vendors who become their trusted advisors. So make sure you’re aligning with vendors who will support you and help you grow, not just try to expand your technology portfolio. When it comes to future proofing your profits, carefully consider not just what – but who will help you get to where you want to be.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine