Because I'm 'app-y: Research finds managed services on the rise

Managed Service Providers have a lot to be 'appy about, as research finds that IT managers are looking to shift additional IT infrastructure off-prem over the next five years

UK mid-market businesses plan to outsource over a third of their IT environments to managed service providers (MSPs) within the next five years, according to new research from Daisy.

The research, carried out by Vanson Bourne on behalf of communications provider, found that cost, agility and optimisation of existing resources were some of the primary drivers for the continued shift towards managed services. Interestingly, security, which has traditionally been a barrier in the shift towards off-premise, was also a key driver, with 55% of IT directors saying that they were looking to MSPs to provide additional support.

“The combined business objectives of cost reduction and the insatiable desire to accelerate innovation mean the adoption of an IT managed service is becoming an increasingly attractive proposition for many organisations,” says Andy Bevan, director of Client Solutions, Daisy Corporate Services. “At the same time, the risk of cyber-attack - growing significantly and visibly over recent years - has prompted an increasingly stringent regulatory environment for all sectors; forcing organisations to jump through far more compliance hoops. As a result, many businesses are now finding that it is easier, and significantly more cost-effective, to outsource their security management to a service provider with the certifications and expertise necessary to tackle the rapidly changing threat landscape in order to protect their data, their customers, and their reputation.”

By highlighting what is driving end users to turn to managed services, Daisy’s research should give MSPs a clear indication of where to focus their sales efforts.

There is supporting research to suggest that the tide for MSPs has already turned. CompTIA's Fourth Annual Trends in Managed Services Study found that more than two-thirds of the companies surveyed have already used the services of an MSP within the past 12 months.

“While one-time projects account for some of these engagements, a significant portion is on-going management of one or more IT functions by a managed services provider," said Carolyn April, senior director, industry analysis, CompTIA. "There is a much higher degree of familiarity with the term 'managed services' and greater adoption."

Just over half of CompTIA respondents claimed to be 'very familiar' with the concept of managed services, while another 40% said they were ‘somewhat familiar’. To be fair to the 40%, there is a bit of a miasma surrounding the term ‘managed services’ and it refuses to clear. Many MSPs have found themselves referring to their services as ‘cloud-based’ for the sake of simplicity, when in fact, they do not meet the definition of ‘cloud’ in the purist sense of the word.

"The definitional issue is an enormous one," April said. "That's one of the reasons why it's been so difficult to get a market size and adoption rates."

While the research clearly indicates that MSPs already have a lot to be thankful for, there are opportunities that remain untapped. CompTIA’s data suggests that despite the growing number of businesses looking to MSPs for services, the depth of customers' usage remains shallow. Most companies are using an MSP for just one or two services, presenting a clear opportunity for providers to deepen their relationship with customers.

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