tashatuvango - Fotolia

Looking beyond MSP Day to year-round sales opportunities

Later this month the first MSP Day will be marked but supporting and encouraging managed service providers is not a one-off exercise argues Jason Howells at Barracuda MSP

The 23rd of May is almost upon us. The day when sworn enemies in the battle for IT sales revenue will cease hostilities, come together, celebrate and share knowledge about all things MSP.

Before you rush down to Clinton’s to pick up a card for that special MSP in your life, consider whether in fact the ‘managed service provider’ monicker might already apply to your own channel business. Even if the label doesn’t adorn your current marketing materials, the chances are you’re one of the 91% of channel outfits who (according to 2017 figures) already make some revenue from managed services. 

That’s because, while MSP Day is a brand-new concept, the market for managed services is actually quite mature. More and more channel partners embrace managed services each year. The question is, why?


An unstoppable evolutionary process

The MSP phenomenon is growing in response both to customer need and the benefits of transforming ‘traditional’ channel businesses away from hardware to more annuity-based revenue models. To quote pretty much any industry analyst in the last 10 years, “the cloud has changed everything.”

Those taking part in the inaugural MSP Day are already using the event to learn more about the steps needed to develop into fully fledged MSPs, and how that could bring net benefits to their balance sheets. For others, it’s a catalyst for increased marketing efforts, particularly among the SME community.

SMEs are thought to represent the most fertile ground for MSP adoption, where internal IT teams are most stretched (or non-existent). SMEs also stand to gain most by tapping into ‘big company IT’ capabilities without any of the associated risks, capex bills or management complexities. 


2018 MSP Market Research

Clearly what’s needed is more evidence to back this up. That’s why another key aspect of MSP Day will be newly published research into the current state of play in the UK MSP market. 

Come the big day, fresh findings into both the buy-side and sell-side of the managed services equation will be available for all interested parties to dissect. This follows an extensive study of UK channel players and SMEs alike, to determine the state of the MSP nation in 2018.

The research will focus upon: where managed services sits in the overall channel sales mix, what kinds of services are being offered, which are the most popular and heavily marketed, what is driving adoption and what reasons they may be for churn. These insights will be critical to how established and up-and-coming MSPs deploy their business strategies to maximum effect.

The research will also take a long hard look at the prevailing industry/customer perception of managed service providers and of managed services in general, to determine what remains to be done from a market education perspective.


Will security continue to underpin the MSP proposition?

One of the things I’ll be looking out for in the research is the role that cybersecurity plays in the MSP market offering. According to 2017 figures from a Europe-wide report jointly published with The 2112 Group, a little over half of all managed service providers had network/endpoint security in their MSP portfolios - more than any other kind of service.

Whether these or other forms of services show up as the most revenue-generating in the 2018 UK report remains to be seen. Likewise, the underlying drivers for why SMEs turn to MSPs in the first place. Is it purely an accounting decision, or are there other concerns around - for example - security threats or the shortage of IT skills?

Whatever happens on the 23rd of May, the case is already proven for MSP success, and long may that continue. Customers demand the professional, focused and managed delivery of IT functions as a service - that much is surely inarguable.

What happens the next day, and in the long-term future of UK channel businesses, is the most important thing of all.


Jason Howells, director EMEA for MSP business at Barracuda

Read more on Managed IT Services