Chris Wilson, head of managed services, Timico
It’s business as usual with 2019 gaining momentum, and thoughts are turning to the months ahead. In particular, the role of the managed service provider (MSP) is under the spotlight – and is set to evolve amid forthcoming changes in the market and overall IT landscape. There are three key areas for the year ahead within the technology sector – including the acceleration of businesses moving to the cloud, the introduction and widespread adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics, and the need for MSPs to specialise – or risk becoming obsolete.
Cloud – going from transition to transformation
There will likely be an acceleration in the adoption of the cloud next year. This includes large enterprises, which will increasingly turn towards hybrid and multi-clouds environments, and smaller businesses, which will continue their adoption of public cloud too. With many companies turning to the cloud to provide their infrastructure, this highlights the need for efficient integration and management – an area that MSPs can use to their advantage.
Whilst moving away from on-premise deployment is nothing new, the focus must shift from merely transitioning to the cloud, to using it to transform business. Companies exporting their data from on-premise to the cloud will require all systems and architectures to be managed expertly – but firms should take it one step further. Businesses should audit their entire operating systems to reduce performance inefficiencies and increase connectivity to ensure optimal customer service.
This will also help keep costs down and pave the way for future business growth. But organisations don’t have to do this alone: this is where MSPs can help firms not just adapt to a better way of working, but also help companies develop a competitive edge and put themselves at the top of the pecking order.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to cloud adoption, and what MSPs can and should do is tailor their solutions to their customers’ needs.
The advent of 5G
Few technological advances have had the impact that 5G will undoubtedly have this year – it is going to completely change the business (and consumer) landscape as we know it, particularly where IoT is concerned. Since 5G is 1,000 times faster than 4G, when it arrives, it will have a huge impact on the way we live and work. We will see machine-to-machine telemetry, such as cars talking to each other, fridges communicating with supermarkets to restock their shelves automatically… and that’s just scratching the surface.
The world in which we live is sure to change immeasurably because of these technological advances, while the volume of data that is consumed and shared is set to explode. As a result, there will be an accelerating need for the management and maintenance of big data.
MSPs will have huge opportunities to assist companies with the aggregation, transportation and management of this data, which is going to fuel innovation massively. It’s already been said that data is the new oil – and, like oil, it is crude until refined. But unlike oil, once refined, data can be unleashed to offer hugely beneficial insights and power business growth. Any place where data is stored will become a data refinery. The MSP’s role will be to manage the pipeline between the refinery and the depot, or endpoint – which is where it can be analysed and turned into something tangible.
Specialise or die
Now, MSPs must specialise: either in terms of the sectors that they serve, or the solutions that they offer. Middle-of-the-road players risk becoming obsolete when compared to providers catering to specific business sectors, or those offering best-of-breed connectivity and security solutions.
One of the key commodities that MSPs provide is time – they look after the infrastructure, routine maintenance and operations of systems, allowing businesses to focus on more creative, profit-gaining tasks, as well as investing in and upskilling their people. MSPs also provide peace of mind, as businesses know their systems and architectures are being managed and maintained to agreed standards.
With cloud storage constantly evolving and growing in adoption, it is crucial that MSPs also keep pace with the changing times, to ensure they can continue to provide a tailored service to clients according to their business needs and future plans.
The time of being generic is over. There will be huge opportunities for MSPs to thrive, but to do so they must specialise.
A new era for MSPs
The evolution of cloud and the introduction of 5G technology will bring multiple opportunities to the MSP market next year and will herald a new dawn for these providers. Businesses are constantly exploring new ways to add value to their bottom line and increase their market share, and 2019 will bring many of these. And as the value of data continues it meteoric rise, MSPs will play a crucial role in its maintenance, management, and utilisation.
If MSPs mould their offerings to what organisations need – now and in the future – they will have huge opportunities to grow alongside these companies.