There are not many certainties in the market at the moment, but one of them is that the coronavirus pandemic has been a moment for managed service providers (MSPs) to prove their value.
Fred Voccola, CEO of Kaseya, has seen the MSP community deliver the support and technical expertise to numerous customers during this challenging time.
“The MSPs have been the enablers that have stopped macroeconomic catastrophe in small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs],” he said, adding that the channel had supported telemedicine and home learning, as well as given customers the chance to take their businesses online and keep some revenues flowing.
“A lot of MSPs did a really good job of adjusting their business because they had to, and the nature of MSPs is that they’re very entrepreneurial by nature – most of them are sub 30-person organisations and they tend to be able to move with the flow a little bit.”
Covid-19 has also accelerated some of the existing trends in the market and widened the interest from mid-sized customers in the managed service proposition.
“What Covid has done – not the virus, but the economic world around it – is put steroids into the arm of the trends that were already happening. The digital transformation of SMEs was already happening, but I think we accelerated it by five years in the past 10 months,” said Voccola.
He added that small firms had been using MSPs for a while, but mid-sized firms were increasingly reaching out to the channel for more support because they could not handle all aspects of the IT with just a handful of staff.
“SMEs are transforming themselves digitally at an amazing rate, and it’s going to continue for the next several years. The MSPs and the vendors…that are lucky enough to support them will ride that wave,” he said.
Even after life gets back to normal, many customers are going to continue to operate in a hybrid world, which will continue to present opportunities for MSPs.
Vendors are not immune from those changes, and Voccola is looking at how Kaseya can continue with some of positives that have come out of the past 10 months.
“I’m the CEO and I did around 800 customer conversations in 2020, and it’s great for me because I get feedback,” he said. “We have 15 executives and 100 senior leadership people – everyone’s talking – and not just talking, but communicating – with our customers much more. That’s not going to change.”
As well as increased communication, the other area that has given many CEOs pause for thought is events. Kaseya would traditionally hold its big three partner events in the US, Europe and APAC, as well as around 70 other activities. Last year saw the firm take those virtual and close the year having done more than double the number of events, with around 150 run virtually.
“In 2021, we’re going back to physical, but they will all be physical and virtual,” he said, adding that the firm might be aiming for 1,000 attendees at the European event in Amsterdam this autumn, but will cater for an additional 4,000 tuning in virtually, for example.
This means that MSPs can still send senior leadership to make personal connections, but staff who would have been unable to physically attend because of time and money can watch from the office.
“We love it because we love to communicate with our customers. The customers love it because they learn. So, this is one of the positives that has come out of this disaster, and I think you’ll see that continuing,” said Voccola.
He added that Kaseya has worked hard to support MSPs through the pandemic and is continuing to extol the benefits of taking a platform approach to the market. Investments it made on the security front and in ensuring it is able to help with compliance needs have been in strong demand over the past few months.
“Our strategy has been one platform to make the technician more efficient, and so you can charge less for the kit and allow more money for the MSP,” said Voccola.
Read more about MSPs and Covid-19
- At The ASCII Group’s MSP Connect Live event, industry practitioners discussed different ways that MSPs and IT vendors have faced challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- At some point, IT leaders need to take a hard look at existing outsourcing contracts to understand how well they reflect current business practices.
- Resilient MSPs are seeing their valuations holding steady through difficult times, although deal structures have shifted somewhat during the pandemic.