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3 Tech Distractions: Were My Predictions Right?

My job involves keeping my finger on the pulse of the MSP industry—and making predictions to help keep MSPs ahead of the curve. A few months ago, I wrote an article for ChannelE2E about buzzworthy trends I thought were distractions for MSPs.

Senior Director, MSP Evangelism Dave Sobel
Author: SolarWinds MSP's Dave Sobel

Now that 2018 is coming to a close, I think it’s time for some introspection. Was I right about these predictions?

1. Right: Ransomware Prevention

2017 was a banner year for ransomware, with newsworthy attacks like WannaCry and Petya affecting businesses and organizations across the globe. I predicted that, in 2018, we’d overcorrect and focus too much on ransomware.

I’m confident this prediction was spot-on. Ransomware wasn’t by any means the sole issue in security circles this year. If anything, cryptomining attacks became the new “buzzworthy” style of attack in 2018.

Regardless, ransomware, cryptomining attacks, file-less malware… these are all simply variations on an underlying need for greater, layered security. Focusing on any single type of cyberattack keeps you stuck in tactics, when you really need a fuller strategy. If you focus too much on ransomware prevention, you won’t be prepared for other types of attacks. Don’t get caught up in the latest buzz—MSPs need to provide several security layers to their clients.

2. Partially Wrong: Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to change the way we live and do business. From self-driving cars to Internet of Things (IoT) devices, AI will likely have a radical impact on multiple industries.

In July, I argued these devices could trip up MSPs that focus too much on the “wow” factor of the technology and not enough on its purpose—to solve real business challenges. I claimed MSPs should look for AI tools and be prepared to talk about them with clients, but not to lose sight of the overall goal.

I stand by my statement about positioning. AI-driven devices need to solve business challenges. Most businesses want tangible value, not just a cool gadget.

However, I was off base on my belief about how widespread these tools would become. The truth is I don’t see enough tools on the market advanced enough to provide a true business advantage. These devices will come, but we’re simply not there yet.

3. Right: Voice Recognition

I’ve been saying for a while that voice recognition will change nearly everything. I’m not alone—other outlets have reported that businesses like JP Morgan have been integrating voice assistants into their business operations. In my previous post, I argued these devices would be important, but they’re not advanced enough yet to become ubiquitous.

I was right on this, too. MSPs are unlikely to run into small- and medium-sized business (SMB) clients who need voice-recognition devices. We’re years away from the technology to accurately understand context and meaning for commands in a way that offers a clear ROI for SMBs.

This is still coming—it’s just a question of when. Despite its usage in large banks like JP Morgan, that when may be further off than we think.

4. Wrong: MSP Mergers and Acquisitions

I didn’t mention mergers and acquisitions among MSPs in my previous post. That was an error of omission, so I want to talk about it now.

If you follow the MSP press, it seems you can’t go more than a few days without seeing an article about two MSPs merging or one large MSP purchasing a smaller one. This trend worries some, as it could point to a consolidation of the industry—and leave little room for smaller MSPs.

However, I think this is just a distraction. I see consolidation as being when 2 to 4 players take the clear majority of the market. There’s plenty of room for MSPs without getting muscled out by bigger players. Try not to fret—just focus on the value you provide your customers.

Fundamentals Are Evergreen

As an early adopter of technology myself, I know it’s alluring to hop on each new trend. Admittedly, there’s some value in this—staying ahead of the curve can potentially reinforce your position as an expert. However, it’s important to avoid chasing the flashy new technology at the expense of the fundamentals. Don’t get too stuck on trends like ransomware, AI, or voice recognition. These trends change, but your fundamental goal of solving business challenges for your clients won’t.

By Dave Sobel, MSP Evangelism, SolarWinds MSP. Read more SolarWinds MSP blogs here.