The role of ongoing education, training, certification, and coaching has always been a mission critical one for all IT professionals. As more services move to the cloud, MSPs are taking advantage of the same virtual collaboration tools they deliver to their customers to go “back to school” to sharpen their skills and gain new insights into basic to disruptive new technologies.
MSPs often succeed or fail based on the quality of their teams as more businesses turn their entire infrastructure, networking, and applications support to a trusted partner. A decade ago, mid-size businesses with 500-999 employees might have had two dozen or more IT team members, including a CIO, several VPs, and specialists in certain areas.
Provisioning services for a new employee required an onboarding process that could take several days or weeks, and the IT help desk was required to respond to trouble tickets, while the leader in charge of spending on IT was required to track costs and determine the return on investment on certain investments.
Today, even the largest mid-sized businesses are turning to MSPs for many good reasons. But, as cloud changes the economics of IT, savings are only valuable if the services transformed are at least as good or better than traditional services. The most successful MSPs have transformed their own businesses by embracing the new world of advanced, cloud powered alternatives after decades of supporting voice networks, business applications like Microsoft Office and email, and physical point-to-point private networks.
Take, for example, contact centers, where an enormous amount of CapEx was required to set up facilities and contract long-distance services, including toll-free numbers and more. Training took place in conference rooms, at training desks, and the internal owners of customer service programs were tasked with complicated and expensive components, which the IT team was asked to support.
Today, contact centers operate on the cloud, at a far lower cost, with much more sophisticated software-based solutions including AI-driven bots and self-service. Through that major transformation, MSPs have been able to build healthy new offerings, but only if they invested in understanding the cloud-first approach and what that would mean, financially and operationally.
“Education, training and mentoring are still key in a cloud-driven world,” said Rex Frank, Vice President of Academy, a division of Pax8. “It’s an exciting time for MSPs, unless it is not – meaning, for those MSPs that are ready to push themselves and their teams to deliver better IT services over the cloud they will win, but those MSPs who remain in the past may ultimately disappear.”
The Pax8 Marketplace brings MSPs together with curated IT vendors, while Pax8 Academy offers MSPs on-demand learning, instructor-led courses, peer groups and business coaching.
“There is no success without people who not only understand the best of the best new cloud-first services, but who embrace the new world, and are truly enthusiastic about how their clients will benefit from what’s new,” Frank said. “The only way for MSP teams to stand out when it comes to their capabilities and recommendations is for every team member to invest time in learning and mastering their transformed crafts.”
Pax8 Academy’s team of MSP experts and coaches claims more than 600 years of total experience.
“We have more than 12,000 unique logins from our MSP partners who have engaged and benefitted from our in-house experts, as well as from trainers representing vendor partners,” Frank said. "Our Pax8 Academy mission is to meet every partner where they are, with what they want to learn, in the way they want to learn."
“The Pax8 community is truly that – and as we continue to acquire complementary businesses in new regions, the value of being able to meet and learn from MSP peers in a non-competitive way has been a huge success,” Frank explained. “Interest in business coaching is also on the rise, especially at this time of year when budgets and new programs are being planned and implemented starting in early 2023.”
Chase Mangham at premier-one.com, a Pax8 MSP partner, has high praise for Pax8 Academy.
“The vendors, facilitators, Pax8, and everyone involved do an amazing job. Information is relevant, schedule is busy but not too packed, vendors were amiable and knew their products. It is, overall, an awesome experience,” said Mangham, who is a Pax8 Academy Service Manager Group member.
The MSP industry is set to enjoy even more growth in the coming years.
According to Grand View Research, the global managed services market size was valued at $240 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 13.4% from 2022 to 2030. Grand View explains this surge based on the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has triggered the need for business automation as businesses aggressively resort to remote working.
According to an IDG report commissioned by NTT Ltd., nearly 55% of companies are approaching managed service providers to opt for their value-added services and reduce security risks, which have multiplied since the pandemic's outbreak as employees work remotely and business partners and customers rely entirely on electronic communication.
“These trends are expected to create enormous growth opportunities for managed service providers in the short and long term,” Grand View predicts.
For MSPs, taking advantage of education, coaching, and the support of peers can be key to leveraging those opportunities.
Edited by Erik Linask