There are a number of trends impacting customers today that MSPs should be on top of to provide the best support possible to meet customer expectations.
While these activities are critical, the challenge often lies in finding a balance between managing the business through multiple change cycles and maintaining control of all assets.
1. Machine Learning
Machine learning has the potential to fundamentally change the way in which MSPs deliver service to their clients. At the moment, machine learning remains a relatively unexplored territory for MSPs – cloud IT service management platform providers, with access to community intelligence, hold the key to success and deriving real business value from data.
By leveraging community insights, IT service providers have the ability to gain access to real-time data-driven insights derived from data points collected from the many devices managed by MSPs utilising that IT management platform.
MSPs should make understanding and deriving benefit from machine learning a priority in the coming year, as it will enable them to dramatically improve services and increase the value they provide without huge investments and timescales.
2. Windows 10
Windows 10 is an impressive operating system, but MSPs are still required to secure and protect customer data within the system. Aside from some initial technical issues and security concerns, Windows 10 has shown real improvement by adopting features such as single sign-on and two-factor authentication.
MSPs should ensure that customers are aware of what the Windows 10 update means for their organisations’ success. They also need to be prepared to answer questions regarding security features, compatibility and deployment to provide customers with a smooth transition.
Ultimately, clients of MSPs will be looking to them to help them understand the business value that would result from implementing Windows 10, and success for MSPs will depend on being able to articulate this in the context of each individual client.
3. Internet of Things
IDC predicts that the global market for Internet of Things (IoT) devices and services will exceed $7 trillion by 2020. While impressive, these statistics leave many companies wondering what to do with their IoT strategy today.
MSPs should be looking to incorporate IoT into their portfolios as an add-on opportunity, but with all the hype around IoT today, it's hard to determine what aspects of the concept are feasible now.
They should take the time to learn about the benefits and pitfalls of IoT before it reaches its full potential. With many emerging technologies, companies do not have appropriate time to prepare before implementation. It’s important to begin the education process now to develop the most effective strategy and implementation approach.
Rather than deploying a technology and learning about it along the way, companies have the ability to learn now and gain as much value from IoT as possible.
4. Enterprise mobility
According to a recent Mobile Analytics Report, the total number of enterprise mobile devices worldwide increased by 72% last year. MSPs need to master cloud-based deployment and enterprise mobility management to address the growing number of employees conducting work outside of the office. Simply provisioning each device is not enough; MSPs need to be able to deploy enterprise mobility solutions that provide the right tools to remotely manage devices.
5. Consumerisation of IT
Workers are continuing to introduce "consumer market" technologies and devices to the workplace, and it’s changing the way employees and businesses view information.
According to a recent IDG study, the proliferation of personal devices being used for work purposes has required 82% of organisations to make changes such as creating policies on corporate data sharing and purchasing solutions to address these challenges.
Customers will look to MSPs to provide a solution that delivers complete visibility into all network layers and addresses security concerns.
6. Virtual CIO/trusted advisor
Organisations often need guidance to steer their business in the right direction for IT strategy and operations.? Rather than hiring an in-house IT staff member, more and more organisations are turning to virtual CIOs when they need IT expertise on an as-needed basis.
It’s extremely helpful to have a trusted IT business partner to bridge the organisation’s technology gap and strategically align technology with business goals.
>See also: 5 must-haves for managed service providers
MSPs should always focus on exactly what the client business wants, as there is often a major disconnect between what services IT departments want to buy and what IT service providers are trying hardest to sell.
According to a recent research report, 71% of IT service providers want a more strategically-focused customer relationship – but only 13% of IT departments feel the same.
Becoming a trusted virtual CIO means more than just sharing technical expertise, it means aligning the MSP vision to give IT departments exactly what they need.
Sourced from Alistair Forbes, LOGICnow