If the COVID-19 pandemic has done anything from an IT perspective, it’s been to expose a lot of flawed IT processes, even among managed service providers (MSPs).

A survey of 519 IT professionals published by ManageEngine, a provider of IT service management (ITSM) software, finds 28 percent of respondents are unhappy with the performance of their MSP during the pandemic.

Now to be fair, IT professionals often have an ax to grind when it comes to managed services. There is usually some bias toward the perceived capabilities of the internal IT team that may not always be shared by the upper management of the business.

However, it’s also true that not all MSPs are equally proficient. As many as a quarter of all IT professionals might have said the same thing about their MSP prior to the pandemic. That attitude partially accounts for why there is so much churn in the MSP customer base.

For the most part, MSPs were not contracted to support massive numbers of employees working from home overnight. The fact that so many MSPs were able to enable customers to make that transition deserves more applause than currently being received.

Many of those same customers also don’t yet appreciate the degree to which they may need to rely on MSPs going forward. A survey of 5,000 business decision makers, IT decision makers and app developers published this week by VMware finds 80 percent of respondents say organizations must modernize the technologies they use to develop and deploy software to be more successful. Nearly as many (79 percent) said their organization will not be able to deliver a best-in-class end user experience without successfully modernizing software development processes.

Most of those modernized applications are going to wind up on cloud computing platforms that most internal IT teams still don’t know how to manage. As that transition accelerates it won’t be long before many internal IT teams are begging for help from an MSP.

Fierce competition among MSPs to manage workloads

At the very least, many organizations are going to audition multiple MSPs to help them navigate the new normal. With more applications in the cloud being remotely accessed from home, many organizations are at least going to want to listen to a pitch from an MSP claiming to know how to better manage highly-distributed computing environments. No MSP should assume any existing services contract is safe in the wake of this global pandemic.

At the same time, MSPs should take a hard look at their existing customers. The ones that are not doing anything to modernize their application portfolios may not be around for much longer. That doesn’t mean MSPs should cut ties with them. However, if the bulk of an MSP’s customer base is lagging behind their competitors when it comes to application modernization it doesn’t bode well for their ability to consume managed services.

Savvy MSPs will naturally see an opportunity to help end customers modernize their applications. However, if the spirit is weak it may be time for an MSP to start diverting resources, talent and expertise where it’s likely to be better appreciated. After all, in this new IT era it’s not just the end customer that is entitled to a little dissatisfaction.

Photo: Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock

Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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