By Will Ominsky, Nerdio
To say 2020 was unexpected is an understatement. There was a race to go virtual for many companies across the world to keep their employees safe and healthy during the pandemic. As we move through 2021, there are several trends that we expect to continue as well as new ones we expect to gain popularity. Here are ten of them.
- Cloud Adoption
There are so many benefits with end customer cloud computing and so many risks involved with running on-premises workloads. In 2020 many customers learned this the hard way. For example, not having a WFH setup to accommodate all employees left many businesses understaffed and exacerbated technical issues as they played catch up. For those already using Azure, the pandemic was much easier to navigate.
- Security Continuing to be at the Forefront
With security breaches and hacks dominating the technology news cycles, those MSPs who focus on security will continue to thrive. MSPs who put security second will risk not only their customers’ businesses but their own as well. Leverage partnerships with MSSPs, educate your customers on how to play an active role in protecting themselves and put security at the forefront of your thinking.
- More Mergers & Acquisition
M&As in the MSP space have been increasing every year, both on the vendor side as well as successful MSPs buying up or merging with others to cover more ground. This will continue in 2021, and MSPs should not close themselves off to the idea. Merging with another MSP to broaden your scope of services or geographic reach can allow you to grow significantly faster than on your own in many cases.
- Changes in Cyber Security Insurance
Insurance companies are realizing the increased exposure they have due to the big target on the backs of MSPs and vendors. This is driving them to increase premiums, force audits, and take a more active role in what they will allow. MSPs need to start planning now for changes that are coming down the line by lowering their liability through security and compliance-minded business processes.
- More Opportunities for Co-managed IT
Internal IT departments are having a harder and harder time keeping up with technology changes and all the different tools they need to support their internal operations. This will create more opportunities for MSPs to provide these internal teams with a deeper bench, especially cloud management and security services.
- MSPs Will Widen Their Skill Sets to Keep Up with Competition
In 2021, MSPs need to support a wider array of services for their customers such as public cloud, SaaS apps, home networks, remote access applications, identity management, and both physical and virtual security. Look for areas where you can consolidate, and for partnerships where you can offload heavy lifting to experts in a specific area, like an MSSP for security & Azure for identity and server infrastructure.
- Barriers to Entry Will Increase
For the past few years, it's been easy to become an MSP; the barrier to entry has been quite low compared to many other industries. However, as skillsets need to grow and security requirements increase, SMBs will demand more from their IT service providers. More established MSPs will widen the gap between themselves and newcomers who won't be able to compete as easily. MSPs can take a proactive approach by taking a step back and evaluating their offerings and full stack. Understand your strengths and weaknesses, then fill the gaps with internal knowledge and growth or strategic partnerships.
- MSPs Who Have a Sales Process Will Be Rewarded
Sales always have been a struggle for MSPs, but with more and more M&As happening, those who are focused on sales have more options for growth. Most MSPs have processes for the way they handle technology, but few have defined sales processes with metrics and tracking. The good news is there is plenty of time left this year to start defining your sales process, tracking results, and being rewarded through lower client acquisition costs and more sales.
- M365 Services Adoption Will Greatly Increase
Endpoint Manager, AutoPilot, ATP, SharePoint, OneDrive, Power Automate & BI are all things most MSPs have heard of, but the majority do not have deep expertise in them. Microsoft 365 products that bundle all these services together are becoming the norm and those who have built their practices around these services will have an edge.
- Working-from-home (WFH) Isn’t Going Anywhere
Every day, organizations large and small are making decisions to allow workers to work remotely for the long term. 2020 proved the model could work for most businesses (many were surprised how well it did) and that the benefits in many cases outweigh the cons. Microsoft increased its cloud business by 50% at the end of 2020, and this trend is here to stay for the next 12 months - at least.
While 2020 threw many challenges our way, it also provided us with many opportunities to learn and grow. In 2021, we can expect to see the aforementioned trends accelerate, and the MSPs that can pivot and adapt during these trying times are most likely to succeed in the long run.
About The Author
Will Ominsky started his career in IT at a Boston-based MSP helping to launch their VoIP practice and grow their managed service and cloud computing offerings. Following an acquisition, Will moved to the other side of the channel helping IT Service providers & MSPs build DaaS offerings on RDS as a Channel Manager for two startups. At Nerdio, Will takes his knowledge of cloud computing and MSP services to help IT service providers build successful cloud practice in Microsoft Azure.