With the end of the year quickly approaching, the time has come to reflect on the trends and opportunities that have emerged in the past 12 months and look ahead to what can be expected in the in the coming year.
Many signs we are seeing now point to a bright future for the IT channel and MSPs. Recently, CompTIA released its 6th Annual State of the Channel Study, which found 63 percent of the channel firms surveyed to be “generally optimistic” about the future of the channel. Some of the reasons for this enthusiasm, as cited by the report, include broader adoption of IT solutions and the growing need for IT experts; the increasing complexity of IT which requires more advanced skills; and rising demand for managed services.
This is great news for both the IT channel and our MSP partners, and moving beyond this data I believe three growth opportunities will emerge for MSPs in 2017:
- Security. Over the past year, we’ve seen security continue to rise as a top IT priority. In fact, in its Security in the IT Channel Study, which was released in March 2016, CompTIA found 93 percent of channel firms expected to grow their year-over-year IT security revenues in 2016. We’ve also seen the price point for advance security solutions becoming more affordable, and with most businesses now understanding the importance of data protection and security, I believe MSPs will begin to view IT security not as an add-on service but as an integral part of their services offerings in the coming year. And one of the ways they will capitalize on this trend is by building IT security into their managed services agreements, much like they have been doing with cloud services.
- as-a-Service Business Models. Cloud adoption is still in the early stages for most businesses according to CompTIA’s Trends in Cloud Computing study published in September 2016. In fact, 50 percent of those surveyed in the study said they had only been using cloud technologies for one to three years, with an additional 23 percent reporting usage for less than one year. This means there is still plenty of opportunity for MSPs where the cloud is concerned. In the coming year, I believe SMBs will start to lean more heavily on their MSP partners for guidance in selecting and implementing cloud solutions that will make them more successful and productive. This, in turn, will open up more opportunities for MSPs to demonstrate their value and grow their businesses.
- Sales And Marketing Outsourcing. To grow and be successful, MSPs must bring new customers into the fold or grow their business with existing customers. Many rely on sales and marketing to achieve this, whether it be through traditional advertising and PR, referral networks, telemarketing, or social media. The fact is all of these things require time, money, and dedicated resources — things many MSPs don’t have. In the coming year, I believe an increasing number of MSPs will outsource some or all of their sales and marketing functions to achieve greater success. Questions they should be asking themselves before making the decision to outsource include: What is the ultimate goal in doing so? Is it to alleviate strain on internal resources, bring fresh ideas to the table, or streamline efforts for greater success? Next, they need to determine what they will need to ensure the success of their outsourced sales and marketing initiatives. They should keep in mind that they will still need to take the time to onboard, train, and manage their outside resources.
The coming year holds significant promise for the IT channel, and MSPs that take note of these and other emerging trends — and adapt their business models accordingly — are sure to achieve success in 2017 and beyond.
Neal Bradbury is Senior Director of Business Development for Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda, a provider of security and data protection solutions for managed services providers, where he is responsible for generating greater business value for the company’s MSP partner community and alliance partners.