Gregg Lalle, SVP International Sales and Strategy at ConnectWise, explains how MSPs can help SMBs face the future with confidence
The COVID-19 health pandemic upended just about every facet of life in 2020. Stay-at-home orders meant organisations of every size, in every sector, had to shift their operational practices at scale and embrace a plethora of remote applications and services.
Indications are that hybrid working is set to become a permanent fixture in the wake of the pandemic, as firms apply recent learnings to rethink their workforce and business models for enhanced innovation and flexibility.
Transitioning to the next normal will involve increased reliance on cloud platforms, automation, AI and robotics. The mounting complexity of the IT environment will pose a challenge for enterprises of every size, but it will be especially critical for the survival of SMBs.
With IT teams already stretched to the limit, SMBs now have to overcome the constraints that get in the way of further extending their IT environment, which will include prioritising time and resources for those strategic IT projects that will enable them to stay relevant and competitive in their markets.
To achieve this goal, SMBs will be looking to offload day-to-day technical tasks, like software updates, backup and recovery, the initiation of VPNs and the troubleshooting of networking issues, to managed service providers (MSPs) in a bid to maintain end user productivity at all times.
The recent rapid adoption of cloud platforms and remote collaboration and communication services stimulated by the COVID-19 crisis has expanded the universe and increased the complexity of daily IT operations for most SMBs. To build on and cost-effectively manage these technologies, SMBs will need to work with MSPs that have the cloud computing know-how and remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools necessary to maintain uptime and business continuity.
By eliminating the need to expand IT headcount, working with an MSP represents a cost-effective route to mitigating risk and achieving a predictable monthly cost for maintaining daily IT operations.
Tackling the cybersecurity challenge
The rapid shift to remote work and cloud apps has further exposed SMBs to the growing threat of cybercrime. Mounting attacks from compromised emails and ransomware attacks, together with the increased utilisation of BYOD by remote employees, have been identified as the most compromising threats to emerge in a recent study conducted by the Ponemon Institute.*1
Unsurprisingly, this is impelling SMBs to change how they approach cybersecurity. This is especially true of businesses that need to counter the risks associated with the rapid expansion of their infrastructure beyond the traditional confines of the corporate firewall.
To alleviate this burden and to acquire the deep expertise needed to manage every cloud platform they utilise, 91% of SMBs report that they plan to start using, or to change, their MSP. What’s more, they say they are prepared to pay up to 30% more for their services.
A recent study by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (EUAC)2 suggests this is a wise move, as changes in working and infrastructure patterns caused by the pandemic are leading to a surge in cyber attacks that are becoming more sophisticated, targeted and undetected.
In response, SMBs will need to advance their readiness and, for them, working with an MSP represents a highly streamlined and cost-effective route to enhancing how they shield their business, and their customers, from bad actors.
Accessing new technologies
In planning for long-term goals and adapting their business to cope with evolving market models SMBs need to stay one step ahead of the evolving technology landscape and to gain an understanding of how these technologies can be leveraged to serve the needs of customers, partners, suppliers and the workforce itself.
For many SMBs, understanding which technological advances best benefit their specific circumstances is just one of the hurdles they need to overcome. Having the confidence and capability to implement and use cutting edge technologies also depends on having the right guidance from trusted advisors who are familiar with their industry or sector-specific practices and trends.
MSPs offer SMBs the best opportunity to future-proof their business by providing access to the skills needed to help them identify, scope, implement and manage new technology projects.
The need for professional IT services
Having ridden out the pandemic, SMBs are now making long-term plans for recovery. For many, that means leveraging a variety of digital and online technologies so they can adapt fast to new market challenges. However, with limited resources and in-house skills, SMBs know their transformation projects are at risk of stalling.
To cope with today’s 24/7 business realities, SMBs will need to be certain about the security and performance of their current IT environment and prepare the way for the future adoption of additional digital and Industry 4.0 technologies. Partnering with an MSP is fast becoming the preferred option to both assure business continuity and refocus internal resources on core commercial goals.
ConnectWise connects technology solution providers (TSPs) to the software, ser vices and people they need to run and grow their business, deliver their ser vices and secure their clients. It gives TSPs access to a community of 100,000 peers and a marketplace of third party solutions, plus customer support, consulting and education – all through a single, unified platform.
*1 Cybersecurity in the Remote Work Era: A Global Risk Report. Sponsored by Keeper Security, Inc. Independently conducted by Ponemon Institute LLC, October 2020
*2 ENISA Threat Landscape (ETL) 2020 report, the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA), with the support of the European Commission, EU Member States and the CTI Stakeholders Group