The tide of change for MSPs

During the 1990s the IT industry started to evolve in a way where hardware was no longer king

It became increasingly difficult for hardware manufacturers and resellers to differentiate themselves from the competition and continue to realise the margins they were used to.

Adopting a managed service approach allowed resellers to expand their product offering by providing skills and services in addition to hardware. This was often in the form of remote monitoring and management of servers and networks; then expanding to include mobile device management, security management etc.

However, just as the reseller needed to adapt to an MSP in the 1990s, we are at another inflection point where the traditional MSP model may no longer be fit for purpose. Certainly, an outsourcing model which just saves money is no longer working. Technology is evolving – think cloud, IoT, edge computing, cyber security and digital transformation. The MSP must also evolve in line with this changing IT landscape.

Time for a new type of MSP

But there are still many benefits to be had in working with an MSP. Indeed, Barracuda Network reports in its The Evolving Landscape of the MSP Business Report that 83% of UK small and medium enterprises are using some form of IT managed service. However, it also says that 83% of SMEs who won’t touch managed services do not trust MSPs to handle their data, and often the services provided by MSPs are not the ones they want. So why is this?

As independent IT analyst Clive Longbottom advises: “Moving forward, it will be the more integrated, business-focused offerings pulling together more services from around the public cloud while combining the discrete and demonstrable skills of the MSP itself around domain and technical expertise that will raise the bar.”

We can address these findings by looking at the customer/MSP relationship in two ways; the traditional MSP ecosystem and the Managed Application Access Partner (MAAP) ecosystem which involves a new breed of MSP:

The traditional MSP/customer ecosystem

  • Cost saving is the most important part of the relationship
  • The customer outsources technology and skills to the MSP as needed
  • There is little vendor choice for the customer
  • Contracts are renewed automatically
  • The latest technology is not always on offer
  • Little attention is given to adapting the solutions on offer to a changing environment

The (MAAP)/customer ecosystem

  • Focuses on service and expertise
  • Keeps security and compliance front of mind
  • Technologies are chosen to meet customer needs and are fully integrated into the ecosystem
  • Focused on business enablement
  • Places the customer at the heart of the ecosystem
  • Delivers innovative solutions

Which MSP is most suitable for your business?

An outsourcing relationship, reminiscent of the traditional ecosystem, may still be an important part of your MSP approach. If you lack skills in-house this can be an effective way of providing them. You may be using them to provide IaaS, and SaaS solutions. However, you also need to consider if you are getting value for money. Are you a priority client for your partner or do other larger organisations demand their focus?

Although the traditional service provider ecosystem relationship may be providing tangible cost savings, is this at the expense of your business growth and enablement? Outsourcing can limit growth and innovation if your ecosystem partner is not adapting and evolving with you in a changing technological landscape.

Contrast this to the MAAP ecosystem which delivers best-in-class technologies focused on business enablement. The MAAP is all about being customer-centric by leveraging its vendor relationships, industry expertise and technical know-how to deliver fit for purpose solutions that are deployed and managed using those specific skills. In addition, MAAPs also ensure that the products and solutions are fully integrated into the wider technology ecosystem in the most efficient way. They recognise that a customer relationship should be based on more than cost structure alone. It should be about delivering innovation and enabling growth.

Do you want to just co-exist with your MSP or will you adapt together as the technological landscape changes? These are questions you must ask yourself in order to meet your objectives, sustain business growth and remain competitive. A MAAP approach can help you do this.

To learn more about MAAP, download our full report here.

About the Author

Nick Claxson is Managing Director of Comtec and is responsible for overseeing all management decision making within the organisation. Nick has headed Comtec since its humble beginnings as an IT consultancy in the 1990s and works closely with his management team to formulate strategies designed to continually drive Comtec forward.