MSPs traditionally have focused on business processes and goals, with a special emphasis on managing servers, but their primary source of revenue in the future will come from addressing end user needs.
As servers move to the cloud, clients will need MSPs to focus on other responsibilities, such as maintaining workstations, mobile devices, applications, and security. All these responsibilities place the focus on the end user. By reinventing the managed services model around the end user needs, MSPs help end users be productive and contribute to the bottom line.
This requires addressing three primary areas—cloud services, applications, and security.
1. Cloud Services Focus
Pretty much every company now uses the cloud in some form, and as businesses push forward with digital strategies, their dependence on the cloud will keep increasing. The cloud provides a way for businesses to accelerate development and deployment of new products and services.
Although customers can get services directly from cloud providers, in many cases they need help procuring, configuring, and managing those services. As businesses become more cloud-dependent, they aren’t necessarily moving their complete IT environments off-premise. In most cases, they will run hybrid environments combining cloud and in-house components. Managing those environments requires expertise that most companies lack.
MSPs can get the different pieces to work together and provide the right levels of performance so end users can perform their jobs. Part of the MSP’s role will be to train end users on new technologies and deliver technical support. MSPs can help their customers’ employees become proficient on the applications and technologies they use, which will lead to higher productivity and overall better business performance.
2. Application Support
Applications are at the center of everything for businesses. Just about any task in a modern business environment involves end users interacting with an application, which is why application performance and usability are critical. If applications perform poorly, or the underlying infrastructure cannot support them properly, this can hurt user productivity and adversely affect the company’s profitability.
As such, there is a substantial opportunity for MSPs to manage their clients’ application environments. This includes choosing the application, matching to the right platform (be it in the cloud or on premise), customizing and integrating UIs for usability, and monitoring, maintaining and upgrading the applications to ensure performance and availability.
With applications being such an integral part of running the business, it’s important they perform well. And part of that is ensuring employees know how to use them to get the most out of the features and functionality of each application.
Another critical aspect of supporting end users is to help them protect themselves, their data, and ultimately their company. Many cyber threats exploit user actions, and it takes only one bad decision—such as clicking on an infected URL or attachment—to infect a whole office.
Users need a lot of guidance and instruction to ensure they don’t open a door to cyber threats. Awareness programs that reinforce safe computing practices can stop costly cyber attacks. MSPs have a role to play here, by developing security awareness programs and policies for their customers. Programs can cover a range of topics, from recognizing and avoiding phishing attempts to password policies to proper use of public Wi-Fi networks.
As MSPs look into the future and try to figure out how to remain profitable, the opportunities around end users’ needs should be obvious. As much as businesses depend on technology to succeed in the digital future, they will still need people to accomplish their goals.
And as employees interact with technology, the better their user experience is, the more likely they are to contribute to the business’ success.
Author David Weeks is director of sales at SolarWinds MSP. Read more SolarWinds MSP blogs here.