This past January marked a year since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States, and for many of us, March marks a full year spent working from home in response to the pandemic. Going through this difficult period has followed the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. While it took some time, businesses and employees seem to be settling into the acceptance stage where we understand that our long-awaited return to the office might be a few more months into the future—if at all.
Just as we've experienced a range of emotions in our personal and professional lives, technology has also experienced an evolution, seemingly advancing 10 years in 10 months. A study conducted by McKinsey supports this claim by suggesting that the rapid advances in technology during this era of remote work have led to greater investments, especially in regards to digitizing business. For IT service providers, this has meant increased revenue as clients began to back technology and services that allow for business continuity in a remote work environment.
To meet customers’ needs and protect them now and for the future, channel pros must be smart, flexible, and forward-thinking in their ability to mature into a more digitized world.
Maturity Means Evaluation
As the trend to work remotely continues to gain momentum and business leaders recognize their employees’ abilities to function efficiently outside of the traditional four walls of an office, organizations must ask themselves what it actually means to have a business without borders. Conducting business online is one thing, but is that business secure? Are the right tools in place to appropriately manage business operations without creating silos of chaos?
It’s no secret that the rapid shift to remote work spurred by the pandemic exposed vulnerabilities for IT service providers and their clients, but challenges can also bring about opportunities. By taking a step back to evaluate those issues, service providers can reconsider their security strategies and make adjustments for the current threatscape by monitoring their customers’ needs and tailoring their approach to sales, service, education, and training to fit those needs.
Innovate at the Speed of Business
Every industry is looking to maximize modern technology to fuel their current business operations and make it through the pandemic, which makes channel pros uniquely positioned to offer flexible solutions that can be constantly adapted. As customers make changes to keep up with development speed, service providers will need to focus on selling the service or product that is necessary and able to meet current requirements while also aligning with a business’s future objectives. More importantly, they will need to evaluate growing cyber risks and shift their offerings to accommodate an ever-changing landscape.
2021 Is the Year of Security
Accepting remote work as the new norm doesn’t mean organizations can ignore the rise in cybercrimes aimed at taking advantage of family members sharing equipment and networks or employees falling for phishing scams when reading emails about vaccinations. As attackers grow in sophistication, channel pros must be prepared to offer solutions that are automated and streamlined to cover more ground with fewer products.
With 91% of small- to medium-size businesses reporting they would consider moving to a new service provider if they offered the “right” solution, channel pros must demonstrate confidence in their ability to identify vulnerabilities and respond to incidents by mitigating damage or loss. They must also step into their roles as educators armed with the knowledge and expertise essential to help their customers thwart cybercrimes while also navigating existing and emerging privacy legislation. Finally, as private equity investment continues to consolidate security companies, larger providers will likely be separated in the market, allowing smaller channel pros to fill the growing demand of supplying security service at scale.
JAY RYERSE is vice president of cybersecurity initiatives at ConnectWise.