THE “DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION of the pandemic years” may sound like a chapter in a dystopian young adults novel, but in fact it’s a cloud computing reality.
Work-from-home trends coupled with rising security concerns and new solutions have truly accelerated the average SMB to embrace cloud-based environments. The result is an emerging post-endpoint managed services landscape that channel pros must navigate to avoid commoditization and obsolescence.
“What’s funny is, ‘the cloud is coming’ was our worry 10 years ago,” says Lisa Niekamp-Urwin, president and CEO of Tomorrow’s Technology Today, a managed IT services company in St. Henry, Ohio. “But now that it’s here, it’s really no different than it was—it’s still about change.”
Indeed, says industry voice Dave Sobel, podcaster and owner of MSP Radio, “We’re in a field that’s all about change. Digital transformation isn’t a one-time thing; it’s an all-the-time thing. So, if I’m going to be relevant for another 20 to 30 years, I have to figure out where I’m going to go and what I’m going to sell.”
To stay relevant in this new post-endpoint world, MSPs will need to shift their focus from managing devices to delivering strategic, consultative services aimed at helping businesses capitalize on the power of cloud-based solutions.
The COVID Accelerant
“Cloud computing” is nearly as old as the internet itself. As far back as the late 1990s, Silicon Valley venture capitalists entertained visions of application services handling all aspects of business. By the early 2000s, server virtualization was here. In 2010, the talk was “cloud, cloud, cloud.”
So why is it we’re hearing channel experts warn of “digital transformation” as if it’s a looming hurricane soon to make landfall? After all, this has been circling and developing for decades, hasn’t it?
“It’s the COVID accelerant,” explains Sobel. “It’s a bunch of trends moving faster … We’re now in the ‘end game’ of that familiar cloud story.”
Colin McMahon, associate director of industry analyst firm Keypoint Intelligence, agrees with Sobel, and they both see one trend in particular, the mammoth, worldwide “work-from-home” shift, as irreversible. “People like working from home, and they don’t want to go back,” notes McMahon.
At one point during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, 71% of workers conducted their jobs from home, according to an October 2020 Pew Research Center survey. That’s a mind-blowing number of individuals quickly relying on home-based technologies, with organizations of all sizes moving to secure cloud-based services to accommodate that workforce.
The cloud movement looks to continue apace too, with Gartner predicting that 85% of businesses and organizations will employ cloud-first IT strategies by 2025, and 95% of digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms.