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ITSPs, MSPs: 3 Big Opportunities to Seize in 2018

December 07, 2017  By Len DiCostanzo
This content originally appeared on Channel e2e. 

It’s time once again for us to look into our proverbial “crystal ball” and share our predictions for what kind of opportunities are on the horizon for IT Service Providers and Managed Service Providers in 2018. 

After some careful thought, here’s what I think will matter: 

All in on Endpoints 
Whether it’s securing them, managing them or outright controlling them, I believe IT service providers will spend a lot of 2018 strategizing how best to manage endpoints, recommending ways for clients to keep them safe and then doing the actual work to protect them. 

With the proliferation of endpoints due to people having multiple devices, the focus is shifting to connected endpoints including desktops, laptops and the various mobile devices and operating systems. Data is being stored locally at a record pace, and there is more freedom for users to do “whatever you want” on these endpoints, from installing new hardware to downloading free cloud apps. This creates massive security holes with the endpoints being targeted by ransomware and other malware vendors. Managing those endpoints, locking them down and being able to recover from endpoint failure becomes a real issue of scale. In fact, Autotask’s 2017 Metrics that Matter™ survey found that 63% of more than 1,000 IT service provider respondents said they are supporting 50% more endpoints than last year. And endpoint security stayed in the top spot in terms of generating revenue for those survey respondents.  I expect this percentage to continue to grow and at an even faster pace in 2018. 
 
It’s Getting “Clouded” in Here
Clients love the ease and flexibility of cloud apps and so do ITSPs and MSPs, trouble is there are just so many of them. Managing them has become an important priority as IT service providers need to be able to provision cloud apps for clients, update their contracts and bill for those new licenses, and then reconcile that with their vendor invoices. And that’s not all they have to keep straight, they also need to monitor and manage cloud apps deployed across multiple disparate management tools and deploy them at scale across multiple endpoints per client. And there’s also the real need to reel in clients and their employees “do-it-yourself-cloud deployments.” When you take all of this into account, you can see how the growth of the cloud has to include many more aspects outside of the specific solution the app is intended to provide. Vendors and ITSPs will need to work together going forward to understand these issues and resolve them. 
 
Creating the Best Customer Experience isn’t Just for Apple Store 
With easy access to technology and the continued growth and adoption of the cloud, SMBs (the real focus of the channel) can now access technology easily and get it to work without calling on their outsourced IT Service Provider. Clients may not mean to bypass the ITSP, as they are simply trying to get their work done, but it is a by-product of this new cloud world. The key for ITSPs is to stay vigilant in keeping control of their client’s business technology infrastructure and ensuring only recommended and trusted solutions are deployed and in use. And they need to stay super vigilant in terms of understanding the needs of their clients so they stay ahead of the technology curve, and bring in the new solutions their clients need to get their job done before the client does. The 2017 Autotask Metrics that Matter™ survey showed about 50% of 1,000 ITSPs surveyed are getting it, and use multiple channels to ensure they stay engaged with their clients including regular surveys, social media, outbound communication and knowledgebase for self-help. In 2018, more ITSPs need to focus on retention and take keeping their seat at the table more seriously. 

I shared my predictions. Now it’s your turn. What trends, issues or opportunities do you think will make the biggest impact in 2018? Tag us @autotask to share your thoughts. 
Len DiCostanzo
Senior Vice President, Community & Business Development
Len is one of the most widely-recognized figures in the IT industry with more than 25 years experience in the channel. Len develops and nurtures Autotask’s strategic industry alliances around the world.

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