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MSPs retain staff and focus on riding out pandemic

Research from SolarWinds MSP indicates that although the last few months have been tough, most partners have adapted to changed conditions

Managed service providers (MSPs) have spent the last few months focusing on helping customers adapt to a fresh reality, with many increasing the security offerings they can provide for remote workers.

According to a SolarWinds MSP study, Covid-19: Impact and response, 59% of managed service players have applied for government financial relief programmes, but at the same time, 80% have held their staffing levels at pre-pandemic levels.

The firm surveyed MSPs across Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand to find out not only how the last few months have been, but what their plans are for the future.

The majority (66%) said they had gone the extra mile for customers during Covid-19, with many offering delayed payments, temporary discounts and some going as far as to reduce the services offered to match shrinking user budgets.

The narrative throughout the pandemic has been that good partners have stepped up and shown their customers the value of a channel relationship, and the SolarWinds MSP study adds weight to that trend.

Most MSPs have not used the pandemic as an opportunity to raise their prices, with 65% indicating that they will not do so even when life gets back to a more normal footing.

“To see the overwhelming majority of MSPs retain their staff during a time period characterised by uncertainty is truly heartening, especially given the important role MSPs have played in helping businesses digitally transform,” said Colin Knox, vice-president of community at SolarWinds MSP.

“The technology industry and the channel are resilient but also resourceful, and this crisis has reinforced the value that MSPs bring to businesses. Without MSPs as an extension of the team – focused on risk mitigation and business continuity – many businesses would have been lost, and wouldn’t have been able to support remote working on such a vast, immediate scale. The knowledge, expertise and skillset of MSPs has been crucial in this changing climate. They have truly become essential.”

Looking ahead, there is a degree of uncertainty from MSPs, largely because of the unknown around the prospect of a second wave of Covid-19, with many expressing concern about securing new customers and working in their own offices and at customer sites if social distancing continues. There are also concerns about the recession and the long-term prospects for IT budgets and tech spending.

Security services are seen as one of the main growth areas for the next 12 months, and a significant number of respondents to the survey are expecting additional project work and managed services contracts will increase. There were also indications that the consolidation that has been such a long-term feature of the market will continue, with 40% of the larger MSPs revealing that acquisition is a major part of their expansion plans.

The expectation among many MSPs is that the remote working explosion caused by Covid-19 will remain in place for many workers and they will need to not only support their own staff going forward, but help customers do the same.

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