From The Expert Feature Article
January 19, 2016

Market Shifts and More Cloud Consternation Abound in 2016

By Special Guest
Rob Rae, Vice President of Business Development at Datto

Ask any service provider about how they’re planning for the next 12 months, and it’s unlikely that you’ll receive the same answer more than once. Depending on the service, the size and the type of companies served, new technologies and a new year mean vastly different things. This is even truer considering where IT is headed. It’s not just about making sure computers work anymore. IT needs to support the enterprise, and that’s made some technologies – and service providers – more valuable than others. 2016, like years before it, will welcome in a new era of IT, along with it will come massive business opportunities for MSPs. Here are four specific trends MSPs need to monitor to succeed in 2016:

Move to cloud continues to cause concerns

About 10 years ago, articles like these probably listed the cloud as the most significant development to hit the industry since the Internet itself. It certainly was, especially for MSPs. Service delivery instantly became faster, easier, bringing customers complex services and solutions over the air. However, with a number of IT decision-makers still hesitant to shift their most critical workloads offsite, the time for their cloud play is now or never. Many companies want to go to the cloud entirely. They want the flexibility and cost benefits of the cloud, but they don’t want to put their data at risk. MSPs who can deliver serious value to their clients with the game plan and reliability in place to minimize risks are going to attract more opportunities for business and partnerships.

MSPs become valuable solution providers

Simply providing the service isn’t going to become enough for MSPs soon, and the next 12 months will thrust IT closer to that day. Companies don’t just need a service anymore. They need solutions to eliminate bottlenecks, simplify operations and move their companies forward. Working with MSPs is no longer about a solving a problem for a short period of time. Two classes of MSPs are going to emerge: the MSPs who becomes trusted partners and those who emerge as little more than a stopgap between one MSP and another. The term “MSP” may well start to fade as a result. Your customers don’t need service providers. They need teams of professionals working constantly to develop and build out solutions that improve business.

Acquisitions abound

Mature MSPs that fought through the economic slowdown have come out as attractive acquisition options for larger companies. We’ve already seen an increase in merger and acquisition conversation, and it’s not likely to slow down. As technology continues to converge, the companies that have successfully navigated the growing pains often evolved with the times through acquisition. Small and medium-sized businesses that spent too much time focused on outdated tech have propagated the convergence pipe dream for too long. MSPs with powerful offerings and attractive client portfolios are significant acquisition options for larger companies looking to add new segments to their businesses and get moving quickly. Since IT has changed so significantly and the responsibilities have migrated from tech support to enterprise support, MSPs who specialize in certain technologies are ideal candidates to be acquired. Many of these big tech companies want to expand. They want to bring in employees with wider specialties. Snapping up solution providers means these big names can onboard capable experts quickly instead of finding them on their own.

There’s no telling what the biggest stories and developments of 2016 will be when it’s time to think about 2017. Right now, it’s even difficult to say exactly what these next 12 months will look like. Service providers that focus on tackling the three areas mentioned above are great places to start.

Rob Rae is vice president of business development at Datto, where he leads efforts to help the company’s channel partners grow their businesses. He also oversees Partner Development, Partner Programs, Training, and the annual Datto Partner Conference. With more than 25 years of channel sales and B2B activities, Rae has extensive experience in IT hardware and software sales with value-added resellers, managed service providers and other channel-focused organizations. Prior to working with Datto, Rae has built successful sales teams with a variety of organizations including Level Platforms, Compaq and HP. Rae was named as one of MSPmentor’s Top 250 people shaping the global managed services market the last four years running; and was named as a CRN Channel Chief in 2015 and 2014. He is an Executive Board member at both ASCII and CompTIA (News - Alert).

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere