As 2016 comes to a close, we sat down with three executives from Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda to get their perspectives on what’s in store for the MSPs in 2017.
General Manager Brian Babineau, Senior Director of Business Development Neal Bradbury, and EMEA Sales Director Jason Howells each have their own point of view, but they all have deep experience in the IT channel and work regularly with our MSP partners, which gives them insight into the road ahead.
Here’s a closer look at their MSP predictions for 2017.
1. Security as a top priority
2016 was undoubtedly the year of ransomware. The FBI reports that an average of 4,000 ransomware attacks are occurring each day — a 300-percent increase over 2015. And it’s a trend that shows no signs of letting up in 2017. That’s why Jason predicts that more MSPs will move toward offerings that combine security and data protection.
“MSPs want to stop ransomware from infecting their customers’ networks, but at the end of the day if a customer clicks on the wrong thing and falls victim to a ransomware attack, MSPs also want to be able to help them restore the encrypted data quickly and easily,” Jason says.
Security also has the potential to have a larger impact on MSPs’ bottom line. According to CompTIA’s Security in the IT Channel Study, 93 percent of channel firms expected to grow their year-over-year IT security revenues in 2016. But Neal thinks MSPs need to change the way they view security if they want to make the most of this trend in 2017.
“I believe MSPs will start to look at IT security as more than just an add-on service, making it an integral part of their services offerings instead,” says Neal. For example, Neal suggests including IT security in managed services agreements, similar to what many MSPs already do with data protection.
2. Increased automation and efficiency
MSPs know they can use automation to improve efficiency and reduce the cost of service delivery. After all, the more MSPs have to do manually, the more their margins will suffer. That’s why Jason says that MSPs will show even more interest in remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools and professional services automation (PSA) tools.
Brian predicts that in 2017 MSPs will be looking for other types of services that can help them increase efficiency, such as product monitoring and event management. “With this type of assistance, MSPs can offer capabilities such as Advanced Threat Protection without creating more work for their teams,” Brian says.
3. More strategic partnerships
Brian also suggests that in the year ahead, MSPs will be looking for vendors that can do more than just sell them a product. For example, MSPs will be turning to vendors for technical training, help with sales and marketing activities, and advice on how to use more of a product’s newer technologies, such using next-gen firewalls to optimize traffic to critical applications.
“With help from their vendor partners, MSPs will better understand how to use a product’s full capabilities instead of just a few features,” Brian explains.
4. Outsourced sales and marketing
To grow their businesses, MSPs need to bring on new customers or expand their existing relationships, and sales and marketing are a critical part making that happen. As MSPs look to set themselves up for success in 2017, Neal believes more will be looking to outside resources to help them execute these functions, which often take time that MSPs don’t have.
“A growing number of MSPs will outsource at least some of their sales and marketing in order to free up internal resources, bring in fresh ideas, and achieve greater success,” says Neal.
2017 is bound to have some surprises in store for the IT channel, but it’s also full of potential for MSPs that are prepared to make the most of these four trends in the year ahead.