No one, including market analysts, economists, futurologists, or any other trend specialists out there, could quite have expected what happened in the year 2020. In this article, we will define four MSP technological trends that will definitely be in great demand in 2021. Also, we will overview the best tips and tricks to boost your sales and marketing in the upcoming year.
MSP Technology Trends
Over the years, MSP solutions have got cheaper and easier to maintain and manage. This means that your solutions stack is not a competitive advantage anymore. What really matters is the quality of services that you provide and how your offering aligns with the business challenges. So managed IT providers should constantly monitor market trends to update or expand their existing stack to comply with the needs of their customers and prospects.
#1 The Victory of the Cloud
For more than a decade, cloud technologies have been gaining popularity and consequently disrupting just about any technology trend that exists on the market. Right up to the year 2020, there was a group of technology enthusiasts who still preferred everything on-premises to anything in the cloud because of security reasons, management issues, or internet connection problems. Now, though, even the greatest skeptics will agree: the cloud has won the technology battle.
But what exactly should managed IT providers add to their solutions stack?
Adoption of cloud-based servers and services. As soon as your clients went to their home offices and you, as an MSP, had to move your workforce to working from home, too, the planned and unplanned maintenance of on-premises servers became a headache. For this reason, you should start rethinking your policies so as to aim towards adopting cloud services as much as possible. Try using Microsoft 365 instead of Microsoft Exchange, Amazon S3 instead of a local file server, Microsoft OneDrive instead of local network shares and, if not too complex, moving your whole local AD environment to Microsoft Azure AD. For workloads that require a server, such as custom applications and databases, you could try cloud-based virtual machines, such as Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure Virtual machines.
Adoption of a multi-cloud environment. While you may already use the cloud for some of your operations, try thinking beyond a single provider. Some of your clients may already be integrated into Microsoft Azure AD and use Microsoft Azure as their main cloud provider, but others might need specific Amazon Web Services offerings.
Further reading Guide to Becoming a Cloud-First MSP
#2 Remote Work Coordination
We all remember the sheer chaos that began once clients' normal business operations were disrupted by the pandemic. Those that were not ceasing their operations were asking you to move their workloads to home offices. This involved dozens of new VPNs, hundreds of relocated PCs, web cameras, and web-meeting solution updates, as well as the need to support remote workers.
At some point, the pandemic will come to an end, but a lot of companies will keep their workforce at home, at least partly. Remote work will rise to 300% of pre-COVID levels.
All this means the obvious necessity for solutions and services such as:
VPN and remote desktop services. First and foremost, you should master every possible way of providing remote desktop services. Your clients should experience no hurdles or blocks, and the connection should be safe. This will eventually create a competitive advantage in the years of work-from-home policies.
Full remote monitoring and management coverage. It will be next to impossible to schedule on-premises support sessions when your end users are located at dozens of locations, so you will need to automate as many processes as possible. Many end users will work from their own desktops and laptops, so you should think of how to enable them for your patch management and security policies.
Mobile device management. If you work with clients that fall under some sort of compliance, the inevitable bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy due to work-from-home might become a massive security issue. Thus, you should think of implementing mobile device management solutions and strict BYOD security policies.
#3 Security Services
Cybersecurity services have been booming ever since the first ransomware attacks back in 2012. All managed IT providers have included some security solutions into their offerings but, in 2021, MSPs and MSSPs should rethink their security services, policies, and training to align them to the new realms. Think of creating a standardized security package for remote workers, which should include antivirus software, VPN for remote connection, multi-factor authentication, and a backup solution. You should also perform cybersecurity training, focusing these workers on the topics of email security and password management, and teaching them how to use the security services you will install on their machines.
#4 A New Look at Business Continuity
We have already mentioned the chaos of the sudden move of businesses to their home offices. Not many managed IT providers were ready for that move and many of their clients suffered significant downtime. These MSPs' business continuity and disaster recovery plans were mostly focused on hardware failures, ransomware attacks, and sometimes fires or floods. But what about the pandemic? 2020 has clearly shown the necessity to rework and deepen the understanding of business continuity and disaster recovery for MSPs.
MSP Sales and Marketing Trends 2021
Now, without proper sales and marketing activities, your shifts in services and solutions might go unnoticed. Here are some tips and tricks to boost your MSP sales in 2021:
Focus on new services. First of all, your services should be on a par with the business challenges that your clientele are confronted with. So, you should refocus your messaging and take the new business environment into account.
Personalize customer experience. Each time you are going to communicate with a new prospect in the upcoming year, try addressing their needs. To do this, spend some time investigating their business area to define their challenges. This will allow you to capture their attention more easily.
Further reading How to Enhance Customer Experience
Boost social media presence. Many local businesses are out there on social media seeking technological advice. Don’t try to pitch them blindly; instead give them the advice they need, in order to strengthen your image as a professional.
Your brand will be more valuable. Businesses will trust more to known brands, and choose their managed services providers based on both their portfolio and brand identity.
The upcoming year will be hard for all businesses. But, in hard times, there is always a chance to become stronger and thrive. As a managed IT provider, you should carefully redefine your offering, sales, and marketing messaging to target the needs of the post-pandemic times.