Six Sure-Fire 2021 Predictions for the MSP Community

Matt Scully, channel chief, Mailprotector
Author: Matt Scully, channel chief, Mailprotector

Stick a fork in 2020. Most people will likely agree with that sentiment and will surely celebrate the end of what has become a very long and troubling year. Who isn’t ready to put 2020 in the rearview mirror?

Even in the IT services community, where more companies appear to be prospering than suffering during the pandemic, most everyone is looking forward to what a new year may bring. Optimism abounds.

Despite all the adverse events in 2020, MSPs are positioning themselves to move forward in the new year, with more momentum and a greater ability to support the overall business community than ever before. The demand for IT expertise and support is creating a bull market for the channel, especially for firms with specialized skills and the ability to scale and support co-managed environments. All the work MSPs have put into transitioning their clients away from legacy systems to the cloud and mobility solutions is paying off in a big way.

While that validation might have taken much longer without a global pandemic and ensuing government-mandated quarantines, most business leaders now have a much greater appreciation for the work that you do. Terms like ‘non-essential workers’ and ‘WFH’ have become an accepted part of the vernacular and help emphasize the value of the IT services and support community.

The chances are good that your clients know more about the solutions you deliver and how your team supports their employees than ever before. And that is excellent news.

What will 2021 bring? MSPs must keep up the momentum gained over the past several months and find new ways to support their business customers in the years to come. Here are a few predictions to guide you in those efforts:

1. MSP value will continue to rise

Now is not the time to be content with past success. Businesses look to MSPs for their technical prowess and support capabilities, as well as innovation, which means your team must focus on continual improvement in each of those areas. IT services firms that pay close attention to their clients' current and future needs and invest in solutions that address those requirements will, as always, see their value continue to rise.

That external focus and commitment to customer success is vital. Whether your clients are transitioning to a WFH or hybrid environment or keeping their work teams in house, their business needs are not static. Compliance requirements continue to change. Security risks are rising at an alarming rate. Your MSP’s value will continue to grow if your team can quickly and effectively respond to those changes.

2. Demand for cybersecurity expertise grows

Businesses are under constant attack today. Cybercriminals have more tools at their disposal than ever before, including a variety of dark web resources, including stolen passwords and personal information, as well as tools like Malware as a Service (MaaS) that can let them wreak havoc on a massive scale. From the smallest office with no IT support to Fortune 500 companies without enough resources to protect every employee in a WFH situation, cybersecurity capabilities are vital today. Industry experts project the demand for data and network protection services will remain strong and continue to evolve, meaning additional MSP opportunities for years to come.

3. Businesses need strategic partners

Technology can be a game-changer for organizations. Many organizations rely on the latest applications and automation to increase productivity, drive operational efficiencies, and differentiate their business from the competition. However, many companies lack a critical piece of the IT equation: people with the vision to develop, implement, and carry out their long-term technology plans. MSPs can profit from filling that role.

4. MSPs Mid-market and enterprise opportunities

Scalability has never been a bigger opportunity for the channel. With many businesses caught off guard by the pandemic and ensuing WFH directives, including some of the largest enterprises, the value of IT resources is at an all-time high. MSPs are taking advantage of the remote support shortage by contracting with larger companies to address coverage gaps and deliver cybersecurity and other valued services.

5. Co-managed IT opportunities rising

Dovetailing with the growth of mid and enterprise market needs, ITSPs can work hand in hand with inhouse IT departments to provide a slice of their support needs. PSAs, RMMs, and other management and ticketing tools are making much easier for MSPs to offer co-managed IT services. While these relationships are still a relatively new trend in the channel, 2021 could see demand rise exponentially as more organizations adjust to the new business norms and seek greater business efficiencies. A growing opportunity for MSPs is providing larger clients with off hours (5:00 PM to 8:00 AM) help desk support. Others are partnering with MSSPs to deliver advanced cybersecurity services such as penetration testing, end-user training programs, and SOC (security operations center) support.

6. New opportunities to grow wallet-share

IT is still in its infancy. Though the industry has come a long way over the past 50 years, from the first use of mainframes and punch cards in business to the latest innovations, including artificial intelligence and virtual reality solutions, the best is yet to come. That spells opportunity for MSPs who can guide their clients along this “evolutionary continuum.”

Continually assessing your clients’ current and future needs and your firm’s share of their IT budget are great places to start. Keep your team focused on gaining “wallet share” with innovative new services and solutions that give those businesses more capabilities and greater efficiencies.

Delivering advanced cybersecurity options is a “no brainer” in today’s high-risk environments. Mandating data protection standards such as encryption and multifactor authentication should be a priority. Not only do your clients need those protections, but those business-critical offerings increase wallet share and profitability for MSPs.

An Optimistic Outlook

2020 is almost over. Now is the perfect time to build on the few positives to come from such a challenging year.
For MSPs, that means doing more of what you do best: supporting your clients' business needs. Those efforts should not strictly focus on hardware and bandwidth, but on expanding your customers’ operational capabilities and enabling their growth.

The real opportunity for MSPs is to become Chief Empowerment Officers, giving business leaders the plans, technologies, and support they will need to succeed in the future. 2021 may be the perfect time to make that happen for your IT services firm and your clients.

Author Matt Scully is channel chief at Mailprotector. Read more guest blogs from Mailprotector here.