Steady growth suggests that now is a great time to be a managed service provider. According to recent data from MarketsandMarkets, the industry is on pace to top more than $320 billion by 2020. The research firm’s report estimated that the managed services vertical is growing by an average of 12.4 percent per year.
Things are looking up, but no matter what the market reports say or how much you have invested in predictive technology, there’s no guessing what the future has in store. The market may be in excellent shape, but where will you be five to ten years from now? With a plan to future-proof their business in place, MSPs can make sure they’re still growing and pulling down profits.
1. Jump on the Right Trends
“You said there’s no predicting the future”. Indeed. But it is possible to identify trends that are easier to predict than others. These are the type of trends that have so much steam behind them, that unless the market does a complete 180, they’re almost a lock to deliver on their projected promise. Social media currently offers opportunities for IT service providers to increase brand awareness, improve customer relationships, and establish thought leadership. There is no guarantee that Facebook will still be the top dog, but barring a miracle, social media in general will be hot for some time to come.
You’ve got your trends that never go out of style, your emerging trends, and upstart trends you’ve probably yet to even hear of. Keep an eye out for the trends that have the most potential for your business, and once you find a few good fits, work on incorporating them into your current mix. Don’t be the MSP that overlooks the crystal clear trends staring you right in the face.
2. Soar in the Clouds
Cloud computing is a trend, but it’s value to MSPs is so significant that it warrants an entire section. By leveraging the cloud, service providers directly reap a host of benefits, but can also pass those perks down to their clients. For instance, you can cut back on purchasing and managing expensive hardware, while helping customers manage their data and applications in public, private, and even hybrid clouds.
The Guardian has an interesting article taking a look at how Netflix and SaaS provider Transics used the cloud to future-proof their respective operations. The article cited cost effectiveness, scalability, and agility as some of the reasons it can be opportunistic for any IT-driven business looking to preserve their place in the market.
Unlike any technology to come before it, cloud computing levels the playing field to a point where midsize MSPs can service some of the same clients big boys like Amazon and Google are going after. The cloud, even with all its advantages and flexibility, is the perfect cautionary tale of the need for comprehensive planning prior to adoption. A cloud infrastructure will challenge you from managing internal resources to servicing the technical support needs of your clients. Understand the challenges, bypass the hurdles, and unlock its true value before making the move to implement.
3. Monetize Mobile Opportunities
Adopting a mobile mentality is no longer an option. It’s a must! And no business in any vertical is exempt. The business-friendly functionality in mobile phones is leading more organizations to engage in BYOD, which has its upsides, but comes with challenges as well. MSPs can reveal themselves as valuable resources by providing mobile device management services tailored to alleviate those new challenges. It’s only a matter of time before those handful of clients who still rely heavily on traditional ways transition to mobile. Learn to support their needs now, and eat like a fat cat later.
4. Dare to Be Different
Are you still bothering with that managed security package that barely ever sells? If so, it may be time to move on to something else. The managed services sector is made up of numerous offerings, but there is no rule, written or unwritten, that says you have to cover them all. Those resources you waste on the regulars your competitors are peddling might be better spent on less common services that help you stand beyond the pack. When you’re struggling with a particular product or area of business, sometimes going against the grain is the best cure for your ails.
5. Stay Evolving
Innovators don’t stay original for long. Companies regularly monitor one another, watching, waiting for their rival to make a move they can copy and integrate into their own strategy. It could be an up and coming MSP with a new twist that revolutionizes managed communications. Or maybe it’s a longtime veteran that eats into your pockets by dropping their prices to rates you can’t even afford to consider. The market will constantly test your viability and sustainability. In essence, the only way to protect your business in the future is to constantly stay proactive and evolve.
For managed service providers, a strategy that encompasses sizing up both short and long-term goals is vital to maintaining continuous success.
What steps are you talking to future-proof your business?
Top Photo Credit: Nick Ares via Flickr