As MSPAlliance prepares to celebrate 20 years of operations, MSPs everywhere are facing several profound (mostly positive) changes in the New Year. What makes 2020 unique is not that there is change on the horizon (we’ve faced this almost every year since MSPs have existed), but that the changes we face as a profession are so significant.
So, considering these significant and profound changes facing our profession, I would like to offer up some advice for MSPs everywhere so they may continue the vital work they do every day for their customers.
Transparency Is Upon You
2020 will usher in a new era for MSPs, one in which transparency is no longer a differentiator; it is one of the defining elements of being an MSP. The checklist for being an MSP used to be a short one: get your RMM, ticketing system, and service agreements, add some proactive managed IT services, and you’re magically an MSP.
Today, transparency is going to be one of the most significant factors facing MSPs in the new decade. Demonstrating your transparency is, to be specific, what we are talking about here. If you cannot show your transparency, you will be facing more competition from MSPs who can.
Transparency is one of those ideals which can be hard to grasp for a lot of the technically driven MSP companies precisely because it is not a technical concept. Transparency is a business and professional concept. It is the idea of being proactive in your documentation and communication with customers about how you do what you do.
Understand your Role
Despite the recent attacks on MSPs and the increasing pressure to become more focused on managed security, there is some excellent news regarding the future of managed services. That good news is the role of the MSP has not diminished. The role of the MSP has gotten stronger over the last couple of years and will continue to rise.
Attacks on customer data and IT assets will continue. Nobody disputes this. Organizations unprotected by an MSP are worse off than those with an MSP. Customers may have more choices when it comes to selecting an MSP, but they will still tend to choose an MSP instead of leaving their most precious IT resources unprotected.
Remember your role as the guardians of the customer.
Everyone Knows Who You Are
MSPs are now mainstream. It’s hard to imagine that it wasn’t that long ago when MSPs were still in the shadows, struggling for notoriety and visibility.
Today, that notoriety comes with responsibility. Be prepared to communicate how you deliver your services, including how you secure both yourself and your customers and be ready to demonstrate transparency proactively, instead of reactively.
If you Don’t Change, You Won’t Survive
Since the advent of managed services, not a year has gone by that hasn’t brought change to the MSP profession. 2020 will be different.
Due to several factors, including the more visible role MSPs play in our world, failure to adapt both internal and external characteristics could be harmful to your ability to survive in this new decade.
Adding security, both as a service to customers, but most importantly, as an internal practice, is one of the most significant changes facing the MSP community. Even if you do not classify yourself as an MSSP, you had better be a damned good MSSP internally. What I mean by that is you had better practice exceptional internal managed security, even if you are not delivering those same services to your customers. Your customers do not want to suffer due to your lack of security awareness.
Stick Close To Your Customers
Pay attention to your customers, especially as they are going through significant changes. As businesses adapt, so will their IT habits. Make sure you are staying current with these changes and accelerating your service delivery catalogs to remain current and ahead of the market.
The Client Isn’t Always Right
Sticking close to your customers does not, however, mean that the customer is always right. Customers frequently can be wrong, especially when it comes to cybersecurity and data protection.
MSPs have always had to manage the delicate balance between excellent IT services and keeping the customer happy. In 2020, you can pay a steep price if you keep your customers happy at the expense of compliance.
Please don’t allow your customers to put you (and your other customers) at risk because they don’t want to practice good IT and cyber hygiene. There is a lot at stake, and as an MSP, you have a lot of power and influence. Use it wisely.
Start the new decade off on the right foot. Global IT spending is projected to surpass $1 trillion in 2020, a rate of growth exceeding 5%. MSPs can benefit from this spending, but only if they are prepared for the responsibility and have implemented these changes ahead of time.
Incorporating these elements into your managed services practice can set you (and your customers) on the right path towards prosperity and security.