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The fifth annual Evolving Landscape of the MSP Business Report demonstrated to us all that there is still a huge appetite for managed services, with global services-related MSP revenue set to increase by a further ten percent in 2022 compared with 2021. We spoke to 500 decision makers and knowledge workers from managed service provider (MSP) organisations from countries across the North America, EMEA and ANZ regions, and unsurprisingly, the answers all revealed similar aspirations, hopes and challenges throughout the different regions when it comes to service provision, and the same pressures from customer expectations.

This is where vendors come in. We know that MSPs need that extra layer of support now more than ever. They want strong vendor partners that can help them provide the very best managed security services to their customers and allow them to focus on their own employees too. 

As vendors, one of the most important things we can do for our channel partners is to keep asking the right questions. By doing so, we can identify where they need our help the most, and the interaction we have on the day is invaluable. Every MSP Day is vital for both sides – it gives us the opportunity to address the points raised in the report and proves that we continue to listen and to act on what our partners tell us. MSPs need to know that vendors understand this. And that’s why we’re here talking about this year’s report.

Employee wellbeing and future prospects

Employee welfare is becoming one of the most pressing issues to address, especially as the skills gap widens every year and qualified candidates become more valuable assets. According to the survey findings, 78% said they need to make substantial or significant improvements to address employee wellbeing. The primary reasons why MSP respondents’ clients seek external help with cybersecurity range from skills being excessively difficult and expensive to retain and attract, to cybersecurity solutions not being implemented in the way they need them to be.

As a result, it’s simple to see how an MSP partner can be extremely beneficial to businesses working to keep up with the peripheral threats while managing internal concerns. This is especially true for smaller businesses, when internal resources are distributed more thinly across the whole organisation.

Aside from the desire to expand their service portfolio and focus on where their customers require the most assistance, another aspect that may be contributing to MSPs’ development objectives is that they are in a much more stable position currently than they were in the past few years. The fact that 95% of respondents claim they have transitioned into new innovative approaches and are now in a significantly stronger position as a firm than they were in early 2021 illustrates this. Consequently, MSP customers find themselves in changing environments, providing additional fuel for MSP development. For example, the vast majority of respondents (95%) believe that when SMBs adjust to working remotely, there would be plenty of new business possibilities for their own company to accomplish.

MSPs have a bright future; they have more than enough optimism, which would seem to be matched by many prospects for them to prosper. The challenge now is whether they can effectively do that and continue to support their customers in having to navigate through their hardships while also managing their own.

Cybersecurity continues to add to the stress of MSPs

The challenges that organisations encounter are constantly developing, and as a result, cybersecurity within these organisations must be able to keep up. Unfortunately, businesses are dealing with more than just the changing threat landscape – they’re also dealing with a slew of internal concerns. Almost all respondents to this year’s report admitted that their business is facing at least one obstacle, with increasing and developing their service portfolio (38%), the evolving cyber threat landscape (38%), and keeping up with technological advances (35%) being the most prevalent.

As previously indicated, MSPs face a variety of difficulties, but those associated with cyber threats and technological developments are difficulties that they must resolve to the best of their abilities before they can reliably assist their clients in dealing with similar issues. 79% of respondents indicated their organisation needs to improve overall security hygiene, and the same proportion (79%) of responses believed businesses have to enhance their ability to keep abreast of new technologies and cybersecurity threats. 

The good news for MSPs is that they are proving themselves to be mindful, accepting that they have a challenge with security and staying updated with the newest developments in the cybersecurity landscape. This is a vital starting step, but moving forward, MSPs need to determine exactly what has to happen before they can efficiently advise their customers, when it comes to cybersecurity.

Another security-related factor to consider is that 36% of MSP respondents stated that there’s just too many cybersecurity regulations to comply with. The realm of cybersecurity rules has become somewhat of a quagmire in recent years. While these laws may appear to be helpful measures aimed at improving security standards for MSPs and their customers, it is clear that they are putting a strain on MSPs as they strive to fully comply.

As MSPs move towards being more cybersecurity-centric, trust becomes even more paramount in relationships between an MSP and their customers. MSPs need to feel like their cybersecurity-vendor is engaged in this relationship in order to eliminate some of the pressure. It’s up to business leaders, both from the MSP side and the vendor side to ensure that this trust is never compromised and as the cybersecurity landscape evolves vendors can continue to help MSPs navigate the challenges and strengthen this trust 

One thing is clear, MSPs need the support of their vendors now more than ever

MSPs are the ones responsible for the protection of the end-user, hence they need to be well-informed and well-prepared to stay on top of the new cybersecurity requirements. They need to be confident in their skills and their products but also transfer that confidence onto their customers. MSPs also need to inform their customers on what good looks like. They need to implement tools that enable them to engage in a healthy cyber hygiene process and continue to learn and adapt as the landscape changes.

98% of the MSPs acknowledged that their company might benefit from greater vendor support in at least one area. Given the security challenges, it’s no surprise that security incident response planning is one of the most popular (44%), while hybrid working best practices (50%) and marketing support are also in high demand (44%).

Many people perceive security as a team sport, and they would be right. MSPs are unlikely to be able to tackle all of the security challenges they face on their own, which is where a reliable vendor comes in. A good vendor partnership will enable an MSP to deliver, educate and inform their customers to the highest standards. Partnerships are the catalyst for change for MSPs. With a strong channel partnership between vendors and MSPs, there should be the right mix of technology, support and security in play to create a mutually beneficial relationship. This means MSPs are able to build out their IT infrastructure in a thoughtful and tailored manner, allowing an approach which is advantageous for everyone involved.

This year’s MSP Day 2022 and Evolving Landscape of the MSP Business Report has highlighted the need for better partnerships within the MSP landscape, as well bringing to the surface the continued fears and reservations around cybersecurity. Whilst none of these challenges can be solved overnight, by bringing this community together, even just once a year, we can continue to fight against them. Vendors like Barracuda are responsible too, and we want to continue to work with MSPs to brighten the future for everyone in this community. 

Without progress, in any form, it is reasonable to assume that the challenges raised in this piece (as well as the rest of the report) will persist and that your development objectives will stay just that – hopes and dreams, rather than a reality. Let’s make them a reality, starting today.

To view the full report, click here.

Photo: Mongta Studio / Shutterstock


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Posted by Jason Howells

Jason Howells is the EMEA Sales Director for Barracuda MSP. Email Jason at: jason.howells@barracudamsp.com or connect with him on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/jasonhowells/).

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