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MSPs, get ready for rapid technology changes
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MSPs, get ready for rapid technology changes 

IT Europa, a strategic business intelligence and analyst firm, recently conducted a survey on the impact of these advancements. John Garratt, editor, IT Europa, shared the organization’s findings and discussed what they mean for MSPs.

“Our research covered international and local MSPs; some very small and based in one country, but we found little difference in what they offered or in the vertical industries they covered, whatever region they were in, so these look like global trends,” Garratt stated.

“One of the issues that came out of our study is that they have concerns over rising competition,” Garratt said of MSPs. Other findings from IT Europa should allay those fears, though. “However, on the client side, there is a rising need for expertise and skills in making it all work, particularly when linking in to legacy systems, so there is a clear role for MSPs to use any vertical market expertise they have to provide an essential service, and charge for it,” he explained.

IT Europa researchers also discovered clients are becoming more savvy. “Customers are starting to recognise the difference between a mass market service and the new specialists,” Garratt remarked. Businesses also have apprehensions about using the cloud, especially when they do not know where their data will be stored. Where customers see problems, MSPs should see solutions. “They also still have issues with knowing where their data is held, and compliance laws, particularly outside North America, which will mean rising markets for localized services,” he commented.

The analyst firm’s research found that MSP delivery models will need to adjust to meet the needs of customers as well. “Our survey shows that many clients are still on relatively basic services such as email hosting and data back-up, moving to disaster recovery,” Garratt noted. “Many are starting to move to mobile services, which requires a new understanding of provision and security, and requires integration with other systems. This is a long path, leading through managed services growth into other enterprise tools – CRM, ERP and HR, integrating with logistics and management systems. Delivery models need to offer the flexibility and scalability that our study shows customers expect and which MSPs are glad to provide; but they may need explaining better; the industry is so new, and growing so fast it has yet to get its marketing message straight.”

Furthermore, managed service providers need partners. “MSPs need all the help they can get, in marketing, tools, integration and to use all the available skills and resources,” Garratt asserted. However, selecting the correct partner can be difficult. “MSPs tell us they have real concerns in finding the right partners, particularly among vendors, citing quality of support and quality of product as the two main things they regard as important or very important, especially by smaller MSPs,” he said. Garratt offered some advice on choosing a good partner. “A good brand and reputation are needed in this time of great opportunity, but possibly higher risk,” he commented. “Basically, they all need reassurance, and that gives bigger firms an advantage, even if the smaller ones tend to be more active and nimbler in development terms.”

One of the issues that IT Europa’s survey examined was mobility management. “Many of the people in our study had concerns over enterprise mobility, mainly because of the scale of involvement, pace of change and the integration issues,” Garratt remarked. There is a reason MSPs are nervous. “There are just not that many people around who have done it to the scale we all know is coming,” he pointed out. “Customers concerns are not changing: they remain worried by getting the right business terms, compliance and regulation, linking to legacy data, disaster recovery, and ensuring availability.” What can MSPs do? “There are still many unknowns in this market, and MSPs need to be in a position, either through their own systems, skills and provision or working with partners, to offer that reassurance that customers are looking for,” Garratt responded.

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