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Traditionally, an IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) would focus on monitoring and maintaining on-site hardware and software, helping to keep a business running without costly downtime.
The proliferation of Software-as-a-Service (Saas) has for the most part reduced the responsibility of software maintenance for MSPs and this trend will continue to impact an MSPs business as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Hardware as a Service (HaaS) take hold in the marketplace.
That being the case, what is the role of the MSP in the future?
It is fair to say that business owners don’t have the time or inclination to want to understand the technologies required to run their business, but they do want to capitalize on the business benefits.
For example, the trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has seen businesses flooded with consumer technology that employees want to use at work.
All of this may make business owners increasingly uncomfortable or confused – and this is where the MSP can take on the role of the trusted advisor, helping SMBs to make the most of the opportunities provided by the cloud and hosted solutions, and avoid the pitfalls.
For instance, if making the decision between an on-site solution and a SaaS solution, does your client know how one will affect operating expenditure (OPEX) and capital expenditure (CAPEX)?
Becoming a trusted advisor for clients will keep you, the managed service provider, relevant and increase your value.
Once an SMB successfully deploys SaaS solutions, thoughts turn to how they can leverage the same technologies in other parts of their business.
Pretty soon, some clients will have multiple cloud services offered by multiple cloud vendors across their business.
IT companies who specialize in connecting multiple SaaS services and manage those various cloud vendors will most certainly be in demand.
With the advent of SaaS allowing businesses to rapidly deploy applications and systems, the amount of data that is captured within a business has increased.
For most SMBs, their business data isn’t easily accessible or readily available for analysis. For example, an MSP can assist by helping clients better understand what business data is available regarding their customers, how they service those customers, how profitable (or not) they are, and how the SMB might generate more opportunities with those customers.
The MSP who can help his client understand the type of data that is available to them, and how it might be used will transcend the role of “vendor” and rapidly become a valued strategic partner.
The role of the MSP is changing, and rapidly. Those MSPs that focus on technology first and business second will quickly fall by the wayside. MSPs who lead the client conversation by talking in business terms, rather than technology terms, will find themselves in demand. If you're looking to elevate the conversation with your existing clients, or a new account, check out our post on the importance of Technology Business Plans.
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