COVID-19 lockdowns have highlighted tremendous transformation in the IT marketplace
Over the last couple of years, many organizations have moved to cloud services for much of their infrastructure. At the very least, they are adopting productivity tools such as Microsoft 365 or Google G-Suite. Almost every organisation is using SaaS to some extent, for example for CRM or financials. Depending on the complexity of the organization, they might have all their IT in cloud or they may still retain some in-house infrastructure. They may even have their own, unique, solutions built out in Azure or AWS.
Whether the organization is large or small, their physical IT footprint has reduced
Every tool that an organization accesses via the cloud is one less piece of infrastructure they need to maintain themselves. Previously these would have been deployed on more servers in-house, but now they are simply a consumable service.
Smaller businesses used to investment in things like Microsoft Small Business Server. MSPs used to have to convince organizations to move from ISP POP mail to collaborative platforms like Exchange and to move documents from personal storage to shared repositories on servers. Now, these businesses would never use a server- the cloud gives them a very different IT environment. Many will just deploy end point devices and WiFi connections.
Larger businesses have adopted scalable public and private cloud, moving their focus from the mechanics of the platform to the application. They are moving their emphasis up the stack, from operating platforms to applications.
A smaller footprint simply means that the surface area for traditional MSP engagement is reduced. There are fewer items for a traditional MSP to maintain.
But the logical IT footprint is larger than ever
At the same time, organizations are actually using MORE IT, because many of these services they now subscribe to are ones that would previously have been too expensive. The organizations are now able to use their IT budget to achieve business outcomes rather than to maintain IT platforms.
MSPs have a massive opportunity to pivot. Clients need a trusted advisor now more than ever. The nature of the advice and the expertise are different from that of a traditional MSP. The technical support requirement is reduced as the technical platform shrinks, but the business conversation is larger as the organization becomes more dependent on IT.
COVID-19 has driven more transformation, faster, than anything we have previously experienced
The push to Work-From-Home has been intensive. Cloud services have proven their value over recent weeks, with demand outstripping expectations. That was evidenced by the likes of many video conferencing providers having to add capacity to their resources to cope with demand.
Organizations are now working to maintain demand for their services, pivoting to respond to rapidly evolving business models. Survival is key, so reducing costs, and finding scalable solutions is driving their IT agenda. That is against a background of increased cyber-security threats, growing data-privacy requirements and a demand for data governance and oversight.
MSPs view themselves as trusted advisors. Their challenge is domain knowledge. While MSPs understand the platform, and data plumbing, their clients are asking questions of new technology that is evolving faster than most MSPs are used to, and across a wider spectrum.
As the client demand moves up the stack, so too must MSPs. They need to find frameworks to help them move up the stack, supporting applications, user change management, and elemental data security.