By Christina Walker, Blancco
The 2020 pandemic forced businesses to make quick decisions about how to support their employees with the assets needed to work from home. Channel companies were a major player in this transition, including understanding pandemic-related transitions and implementing new processes. Practically overnight, partners had to support their clients’ business changes, surges in tech demand, new work-from-home (WFH) needs, and more – all while protecting sensitive corporate and customer data. As a tumultuous year comes to a close, many channel companies – including MSPs and MSSPs – are looking ahead to 2021 and focusing on the changing the needs of their customers. Three opportunities for 2021 growth will include:
Permanent WFH policies will create opportunities for partners to expand ‘trusted advisor’ roles
In March, companies took fast action to protect their employees amidst a global health crisis. It has become abundantly clear that WFH will continue even beyond 2021. Gartner recently revealed that 82% of company leaders would allow employees to work remotely at least some of the time in the future. And now that some big players set the stage, including Twitter, Atlassian, and Drobox, others will be sure to follow. With the initial crisis of equipping remote workers with the devices they need to be successful in new remote environments passed, MSPs and integrators need to retool their portfolios. One focus should be investing in services that allow them to deliver a more holistic approach, including educating teams about how to master new software or cloud applications. This more hands-on approach will require some restructuring on the part of some channel companies, but the effort will reap long-term rewards from stronger customer relationships.
MSSPs will take center stage as enterprises crave direction around data security best practices
Managing security for a distributed workforce will be top of the agenda for organizations, especially those in highly regulated industries like finance and healthcare. Months after employees left the office due to the pandemic, many still work at home. While this poses challenges for organizations trying to manage data security remotely, it opens doors for MSSPs that traditionally focused on providing front-end encryption, VPNs, and endpoint security solutions and services to centralized IT departments. Looking ahead to 2021, MSSPs are in a position to provide vital support to organizations struggling to maintain best practices across a highly distributed workforce. MSSPs, for example, can bolster revenue by equipping customers with pre-configured assets embedded with the front-end security solutions needed to protect corporate data and mitigate the potential for breaches. We’ll also see an increased demand for services that help enterprises establish data management policies, such as data sanitization.
The channel will find new niches in cloud migration and digital transformation
As challenging as 2020 was for many, it proved to be a year of positive growth for many channel organizations as they stepped up to help their customers equip workforces to transition to home offices. In fact, research firm IDC reported that U.S. sales of IT assets grew by 14% to 21.4 million units as compared to 2019. This mass WFH move also was a key factor in accelerating many companies’ cloud migration projects. The global systems integrators and MSPs capable of assisting their customers with one of the initial and most important steps of cloud migration – data disposition – have an advantage because they can help enterprises first identify the Redundant, Obsolete and Redundant (ROT) data that should not be migrated and then sanitize devices of all remaining duplicate or end-of-life data. Channel partners are in a strong position to grow their businesses by tapping into digital transformation and cloud migration activities in 2021.
To put it lightly, 2020 was certainly an unprecedented year for the global channel community. Closures of facilities worldwide expedited corporate plans to move to the public cloud and made remote work the status quo for many. We’ll also see an ongoing adjustment to different routines in how we work and live in 2021. For the channel, another atypical year will open the door to new opportunities and a fresh start for many service providers.
About The Author
Christina Walker is Global Director of Channel Sales & Programs for Blancco.