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For managed services providers (MSPs) to stay competitive, they must anticipate their customers’ needs. This may have been a little easier in the past because there were standard sets of services and capabilities that many clients were looking for when they considered offloading some part of their IT or security operations to an MSP.

But the rapid pace of technological change, combined with social, political, and economic upheaval, has altered (in some cases, radically) security and IT needs for many markets. After several decades of relatively stable and predictable market dynamics, things are changing quickly. As a result, MSPs need to be agile enough to make these shifts with their customers and potential clients.

There are several trends that, when examined, can help MSPs adjust their sales pitch along with their product and service offerings to meet evolving client needs.

First, the attack surface is expanding as more connected devices are added to company networks and infrastructure. Cloud services and applications are also being used with edge computing, and many companies are still supporting remote or hybrid work scenarios. Adding to the mix is the rise in zero-day vulnerabilities found in third-party software and applications, leading to more network exposures and supply chain attacks. As a result, organizations of all sizes and across all vertical markets are rethinking their security postures.

This is good news for service providers because, as a result, an increasing number of businesses are turning to MSPs to help provide the talent and resources needed to address this evolving security landscape. However, that means MSPs need to be vigilant in addressing vulnerabilities in a timely manner to mitigate threats and prevent exploitation by bad actors – this will continue to be a critical market demand.

Second, because of this heightened cybersecurity environment, customers are requesting more security services from MSPs. To stay competitive, MSPs who weren’t previously security-focused will need to enhance their security offering to meet this rising demand.

The challenge for MSPs that already offer security services will be combining disparate security systems, processes, and talent to improve their security posture and maintain operational efficiency.  To be successful, MSPs must find ways to centralize information, avoid alert fatigue, be more effective and efficient in their security incident response, and generally avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Third, MSPs must invest in services and technology that help them provide around-the-clock monitoring and automated security response capabilities. For example, customers are looking for a 24×7 Security Operations Center (SOC) service that includes threat monitoring, analysis, and rapid response. While most small- and medium-sized businesses do not have the resources to manage a SOC, many MSPs are in the same position – lacking the staff, time, expertise, and budget.

MSPs can accelerate their security services offerings by partnering with SOC-as-a-service vendors. By partnering with a trusted vendor that offers managed Extended Detection and Response (XDR), combining threat intelligence, machine learning (ML), and attack surface security such as email security, network security, and Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) management with SOC can help MSPs expand their security offerings. This can enable them to satisfy a critical customer need without adding infrastructure and staff. Additionally, with the SOC triaging security events and response activities, MSPs can gain operational efficiencies and further expand their businesses.

Finally, because cyberattacks are increasing in frequency and sophistication, MSP customers are increasingly asking for more support for cyber insurance and compliance. MSPs can help by ensuring their services enable clients to meet the requirements for cyber insurance eligibility, address customer’s questions to the insurer’s eligibility questionnaire, and adding solutions to their security stack that will help mitigate threats and close any gaps in protecting their infrastructure from cyber-attacks.

To stay competitive, MSPs must address these four growing customer needs. As security concerns grow, MSPs that have invested in the right technology and 24×7 SOC capabilities will be well-positioned to help new clients secure their IT infrastructure.

Photo: tomertu / Shutterstock

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Neal Bradbury

Posted by Neal Bradbury

Neal Bradbury is SVP, Barracuda MSP, a provider of security and data protection solutions for managed services providers, where he oversees the MSP-dedicated business unit of Barracuda inclusive of cross-functional areas such as Partner Success, Product Management, Engineering, and more. Neal has been part of the MSP team since its inception in 2015, following the acquisition of Intronis (which he co-founded) by Barracuda. Since then, he has led several teams and projects as the business has experienced consistent double-digit annual growth and expanded from 2,000 to 4,500 partners globally.

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