Ahead of MSPWorld, I’ve been looking at the agenda and thinking about the future of managed services and managed service providers (MSPs). The convergence of cloud and managed services is happening. The cloud is an accepted way to deliver many mission-critical business services efficiently and with tremendous flexibility and agility. Many businesses will flourish due to the value derived from the cloud and related managed services. Where it gets interesting is when we start to think about what this evolution will look like for the channel, and specifically MSPs.
MSPs have a tremendous opportunity in the cloud. The convergence of cloud and managed services puts the MSPs in a very strategic position in the service delivery ecosystem. They have a business model rooted in providing monthly managed and/or hosted services, which makes the MSP ideally suited to adopt cloud services, and helps their customers take advantage of these high value cloud services, thus building even stronger customer relationships.
The challenge for MSPs is to examine where they can add value for customers within the cloud ecosystem and take advantage of the capabilities cloud offers. Just because an application is delivered or accessed via the cloud doesn’t mean the customer doesn’t need help. Cloud and SaaS services are best delivered by the MSP because the services still need to run over the customer’s office and broadband networks. I think what we will see is MSPs becoming increasingly dynamic, agile and adaptable.
The cloud allows MSPs to grow their businesses beyond traditional managed services, adding new voice, data, or video cloud services, and building massive recurring revenue product lines. Working with SaaS platform providers, they can offer a range of services they may not have considered before. The cloud delivery model removes the limitations or barriers to adopting new services, and quickly enables the MSP to become profitable and successful, while leveraging their direct connection with the customer and their needs. The services MSPs offer can be more dynamic and flexible to give customers the tools they need to succeed.
Services like hosted PBX (aka hosted phone systems), voice and unified communications (UC) can easily be incorporated into an MSP’s portfolio without needing to invest new expertise or equipment. They can layer on voice and UC to give customers a more complete set of solutions from a single source. The opportunity is in strategically adding key cloud-based services that deliver more value to customers and increases their ARPU.
The cloud can expand an MSP’s capabilities but it also gives them the flexibility to rapidly adapt their service portfolios to match the needs of their customers. They can compete on service agility and the rapid roll out of new services to stay ahead of competition and create stickiness with customers. Cloud accelerates the adoption of new services and MSPs move quickly, have happier customers and combat churn by adjusting their offers to give customers the services they want.
In this way the MSP of the future becomes an expert in procuring the right cloud services for their customer base and understanding customer needs. Their service portfolio reflects MSPs’ closeness to their customers and the cloud enables them to rapidly deliver the best services to benefit a customer’s business.
It is an exciting time for managed services and MSPs have an opportunity to be leaders as customer-centric service providers.
We will be at MSPworld on March 26-28 so if you’d like to talk about our vision for the cloud and managed services, please get in touch.