The managed services market continues to grow at a rapid pace. According to Canalys, the total value of managed IT services delivered by channel partners worldwide in 2021 reached $374 billion, with 331,000 global channel partners delivering IT managed services – an increase of 13.4% from 2020. As competition continues to grow, managed service providers (MSPs) must consistently find new ways to remain competitive.
As budgets are tightened and return on investment continues to be heavily scrutinised by organisations around the world, there is a growing need for cloud-based services – helping to streamline internal processes and deliver enhanced operational efficiencies at low cost. For MSPs, this has created an opportunity to utilise globally increased appetite from their customers for cloud solutions.
However, in such a competitive environment, MSPs need to provide value to their customers, who are looking for guidance on products that deliver the most effective solutions suited to their individual business needs. In order for this to be achieved, MSPs must become experts in the products that their vendors sell. This is where leaning on partners, who can provide specialised training on a range of products, becomes a significant competitive advantage that promotes global business continuity.
The Importance of Education
The value that a partner can add is a hugely important aspect of today’s channel landscape. No longer is it enough to simply distribute products. In a world where customer experience is everything, MSPs must be able to support their customers – recommend solutions that benefit their needs and show a clear return on investment (ROI), assist with implementation, and provide a truly bespoke service. Competition across the industry is fierce, and the additional value that an MSP can provide, will go a long way to developing long-standing relationships built on trust.
With this in mind, MSPs must be well-versed in the solutions they offer. If they are to provide expert support to their customers, they must take the time to understand not only their purchased products, but how to use them effectively. They must also understand their customers’ needs and challenges, and be able to provide expert advice.
This can only be achieved through the right education. Structured learning courses that utilise a range of techniques to create an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter, peer-to-peer connection and one-to-one coaching, in addition to self-guided resources, are all methods that can be utilised to maximise the learning process. Equipped with a specialist understanding of the solutions they sell and the purchasing business, MSPs can provide ultimate value that strengthens both the fundamentals of their customers’ businesses, as well as their partnership.
Selecting the Right Partner
Education and enablement is critical. However, a student can only ever be as good as its teacher. MSPs must find the right partner that can help them understand specific technologies and develop expertise that, in turn, enables them to tackle the challenges that their customers face, and provide solutions that help overcome them.
As the saying goes, business never sleeps. Whether an organisation is operating in one market and time zone or multiple, the channel today relies on systems that run constantly – servers must remain live at all times and the software that operates on them must too. This means that for MSPs, they must be ready at a moment’s notice – at all hours – to support their customers. As a result, their partners further up the chain need to be available as well.
The right partner will not only educate MSPs on the products they procure, but should an issue arise that the MSP cannot solve, that partner will be on hand to assist whenever they are called upon. Value is the priority, and it must be provided as and when it is required.
Education is the Foundation of Success
Education and enablement are long-term. Technology is constantly evolving – new software seems to be available by the month and it is paramount that any business selling a solution must provide expert advice on how to maximise its use. But once something is learned, that knowledge can be taken forward – it can be applied to a range of businesses, scenarios and platforms.
By supporting partners with expert advice, MSPs are laying the foundations of what can quickly become a strong relationship with their customers. As these partnerships grow and develop, MSPs can continue to expand their customer base knowing that their existing customers feel completely supported. The value that MSPs can add facilitates sustainable global growth that continually moves businesses forward. Therefore, high-quality, bespoke education is the foundation of business success.
 Canalys Worldwide Managed Service Provider Opportunity Database, MSP Analysis, July 2022