Q: This year was a big year for my MSP, and I’m really hoping to continue to move my MSP forward in the coming year. What IT trends do you think my MSP should be ready to take advantage of in 2017?
Congratulations on your growth! 2016 was a huge year for many service providers, and we hope 2017 will bring you additional success. With so many ups and downs in the past 12 months—a 300-percent increase in ransomware attacks, TeslaCrypt handing over the keys, NASA moving to the cloud, and even Delta’s outage—this was certainly an eventful year for the IT channel.
To give you a jump start on what trends you should capitalize in the upcoming year, we spoke to Neal Bradbury, the senior director of business development at Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda, about his 2017 predictions. He shared advice on not only up-and-coming security trends, but also marketing and sales trends that are starting to emerge in the channel.
2017 IT security predictions
As security threats continue to increase and hackers become more sophisticated, SMBs will be looking for more robust IT security—and more importantly they’ll be looking to their MSP to help them implement this added level of protection. Unfortunately, this isn’t a trend that I see going away anytime soon. With zero-day threats, new ransomware schemes, and more convincing phishing attempts, hackers are getting smarter with their tactics.
The good news is that because technology is developing rapidly, the barriers to entry have decreased dramatically. Now that next-generation security solutions are more affordable, MSPs will be able to offer more robust security services and ultimately add more value for their SMB customers. For example, Barracuda’s Advanced Threat Detection can detect and quarantine threats such as zero-day attacks before they arrive in your inbox. Products that have advanced capabilities like this will protect your customers’ data and deliver pieces to security solutions that MSPs have been missing.
In 2017, the market will be filled with IT service providers looking to add security solutions to their managed service offering. And if MSPs already offer security services, they’ll be looking to move toward more robust offerings that can protect customers from a variety of attacks. More SMBs will be allocating a larger portion of their budgets to IT security, which creating a unique opportunity for MSPs to expand their service models and have more conversations about security.
2017 sales and marketing predictions
In the coming year, I expect to see more SMBs looking to outsource their IT department — and more competition in the managed service space. Not only will we see break-fix providers moving to offer more proactive services to their customers, but many VARs will also be looking to transition to a managed service model. With a more crowded market, MSPs will need to focus more on sales and marketing to bring new customers into the fold.
With this kind of competitive landscape, the worst thing you can do is being stagnant. If you want to take your MSP to the next level, you need to increase your sales and marketing efforts. Hire more business development reps to consistently bring in new business opportunities. If you run into budget constraints, consider outsourcing to quickly fill this need. In 2017, I expect to see more MSPs outsourcing their sales and marketing efforts.
Another trend I expect to see in 2017 is MSPs leveraging their existing partnerships to a greater extent. Vendors are offering more and more tools to make their partners successful. The Intronis Partner Toolkit is a good example. We offer rebrandable data sheets, presentations, and collateral to help our partners free up time to focus on revenue-generating aspects of their businesses. We expect to see not only adoption of our marketing resources, but other services as well.
While this year has been busy for IT providers, we expect to see even more activity from the MSP channel in the coming year. Leveraging your existing partnerships, increasing your sales and marketing efforts, and growing your security portfolio are simple measures you can take to achieve more success in 2017.
Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.