Many MSPs are finding themselves and their businesses at a crossroads. Some IT Service Providers are experiencing revenue disruptions and cash flow pain due to the ongoing pandemic as their SMB clients work through their own sales and financial issues. Others are struggling to recapture growth momentum that is slowing due to stagnating and uncertain business conditions.
Both groups of MSPs are looking for answers. One positive consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic for the channel community is the rapid acceleration of the WFH movement and potential long-term redesign of the traditional workspace. These organizations are increasingly relying on IT professionals for guidance and insight on new technologies, infrastructure improvements, and policy and procedural changes.
While MSPs thrive in the SMB, often providing sole support for computers and networks, the shift to remote work increases the opportunities for channel professionals to help even more companies in their time of need. Those changes may be hitting mid-size and enterprise organizations as much if not more than the smaller businesses IT services companies have come to know so well. The fast transition to WFH continues to stretch the finite resources of IT departments across the board.
Imagine being asked to not only equip hundreds if not thousands of employees with viable work solutions to use offsite, but to secure and manage all those disparate systems in unknown environments. Dealing with potentially risky devices and network connections is a huge liability. Now factor in the issues procuring laptops and PCs during the pandemic due to supply chain problems, as well as the fact that no one wants anyone coming into their home to set up these systems. Never mind the challenge of trying to support employees in locations spread across vast geographic regions.
With a long list of companies allowing team members to stay out of their offices through 2021, including Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Mastercard, some larger organizations will leverage outside sources for some help. MSPs shouldn’t be waiting by the phone for a call from General Motors. Still, it is the perfect time to contact and explore opportunities with larger employers in their areas or companies that could benefit from their specializations.
Remote IT Opens New Doors
With the business ecosystem changing, not every internal IT team has the skills or tools to support workers outside their “firewalls” effectively.” Those formerly controlled environments, with employees clocking in and sitting at their desks all day, are gone, and those disruptions create openings for cybercriminals and other data-related incidents. Workers may unwittingly (or deliberately) share proprietary information or allow unauthorized access to critical business systems.
When state and local leaders began to implement “stay at home” orders, many, if not most, organizations were caught off guard and found themselves ill-prepared for moving so many people so quickly. The mass exodus of workers left IT teams scrambling to locate laptops and other devices, implement VPNs and other security protections and set up virtual applications to ensure people could be productive and keep their businesses operational.
With short supplies of mobile devices brought on by the pandemic and implementation and support teams maxed out with requests, some things fell through the cracks. Five, nearly six months later, employees of some companies may still be using personal computers and putting up with poor connectivity due to budget concerns, equipment delays, or skills shortages. The latter problem is a prime opportunity for MSPs skilled in providing remote technologies, monitoring, and support.
Cybersecurity is the Differentiator
While COVID-19 is putting a significant strain on in-house IT departments, the disruptions to the workplace and elevated anxiety levels are creating big opportunities for cybercriminals. No business should allow employees to access corporate systems without approved security safeguards in place. Yet, many companies may not have the resources to implement these protections and monitor for and address potential threats.
MSPs can help any sized organization co-manage remote work environments, from evaluating internet bandwidth and security protections and bringing all work-related equipment up to standard, to monitoring and managing threats for any or all locations. You have the tools and capabilities to address a major pain point for many businesses during the pandemic − and long after.
The great news for MSPs is there are a host of support networks available to help. You can partner with vendors and MSSPs that can complement your existing offerings with SIEM and SOC services, and peer networks that can augment your coverage of WFH environments in other regions. No MSP has to go it alone. There are many channel resources available, including in the cybersecurity space, to help your IT services firm at least get a foot in the door of larger organizations and address one or more of their pain points.
Remote work trends are shaking things up for virtually every business. Those disruptions should be considered opportunities for MSPs and create more openings to move upstream − especially for MSPs with healthy cybersecurity practices.
Brian Sherman, Content Director