By Patrick Elliott, Rev.io
This past year was, in many ways, a double-edged sword for IT MSPs. On one hand, they benefited from an immediate acceleration in demand for many of their services. On the other hand, the pandemic and associated disruption showcased the direction the industry is heading and made many MSPs understand the tools and technologies they must adopt to stay ahead of this transformation.
As MSPs continue to expand their offerings in collaboration and telecommunications services, they will need to implement much more complex operations at scale. Add to this the increasing prevalence of “work from anywhere” models in the year ahead, and the level of intricacies will increase enormously.
This will be felt acutely in billing, as reliance on recurring revenue models will increase. MSPs must get smarter, and that starts by transforming their back-office infrastructure while looking out for potential revenue leaks and data security challenges. With 2021 upon us, a failure to do so could potentially be catastrophic to their businesses.
Mastering The Complexity Of Telecom Services Will Be A Challenge For IT MSPs
Though turn-key VOIP and other cloud-based telecom services make it easier than ever to provision services to customers, MSPs entering the space will still face levels of operational complexity they’ve never had to consider before.
While turning the “switch” on for these cloud-communications services is very translatable for many IT MSPs’ current operations, there are more back-office considerations than meets the eye. Multiple variables will factor into the way that bills are generated, and ultimately to the overall profitability of their business.
The Adoption Of Cloud-Based Billing Systems Will Accelerate
The complexity and dynamic nature of telecom billing will increasingly necessitate MSPs to move to specialized platforms for capturing and billing all the related charges. No two telecom bills ever look the same between clients, and even month to month, one client’s statement could differ vastly.
That is a different game than most of the services IT MSPs are used to when provisioning services. To be sure, it a game that comes with its rewards, given the high demand for cloud telecom services. But it is also, one that has its risks if not handled appropriately.
Unique pricing models add to telecom services' complexity and can create ongoing billing issues due to their recurring nature. Billing errors can also compound over time, repeating at each billing cycle, leading to significant revenue leakage or poor customer service by overcharging customers.
This is all without factoring in tax compliance and collection issues, which further accelerate this shift towards cloud-based billing systems. Telecom taxes are complicated in their own right. Various telecom services and jurisdictions can have their own fees and rates that must be tracked, applied, and billed in real-time or risk significant repercussions.
All of these considerations must be factored into each recurring bill, or IT MSPs will soon see this golden chance for revenue leaking out from their bottom line.
MSPs Will Be Laser Focused On Data Security And Integrity
IT MSPs are experts at addressing the security requirements of the customers. As they continue offering telecom services, they will need to apply the same rigor to their security infrastructure.
MSPs will become more sophisticated about managing the security for the various third-party integrations. Their business will increasingly rely upon and understand the considerations needed for both cloud and on-premises environments. The security advantages of cloud-based platforms will soon become apparent relative to MSPs’ server-based systems in the past for back-office operations.
Billing for these services will involve integrating several mission-critical platforms that MSPs should understand and be confident in their security measures. This includes knowledge of how accounts are hosted and accessed, how the transmission of customer and financial data is protected, and how third-party integrations are secured. All of these issues can be addressed with a cloud-based billing system.
An Opportunity To Thrive
Looking ahead towards 2021, MSPs who have been forward-thinking will continue to prosper, while those still reliant on legacy software and antiquated service models will quickly see their market share shrink. The IT/Telecom convergence is rapidly evolving, as are the needs of many MSP customers. MSPs need support to stay ahead in this new era, with back-office software as a critical place to start.
About The Author
Patrick Elliott is VP of Marketing at Rev.io.