They say the more things change, the more they stay the same. Not so if you're part of the thriving managed services industry, which is set to explode. In fact, MarketsandMarkets expects the managed services market to grow from $142.75 billion in 2013 to $256.05 billion in 2018, a 12.4% CAGR in the next 5 years. There will be great opportunities for MSPs to capitalize on this growth, but it’s crucial to stay relevant and up-to-date with all the latest trends.
By the same token, the more you think you understand things now the more you probably won't this time next year, if you don't prepare to be challenged in 2014. Here are four ways to embrace a changing MSP world in 2014:
1. Stay On the Grid
Can your company afford to fall off the grid?Heck no, not in this 24/7 information age! Make sure you have a service desk (in-house or outsourced) that can be available 24/7 in case any issues arise. The best way to be prepared, of course, is to stay up-to-date. Learn how to best utilize your service desk and how to make outsourcing a viable option. Many MSPs are nervous about outsourcing their service desk, however, a completely white-labeled solution can be exactly what your company needs when it comes to providing support around the clock. Outsourcing your service desk often makes it easier to scale and grow your business, without the cost of over-staffing, or the risk of under-staffing.
2. Keep Your Head In The Cloud
Going are the days of on-site managed services solutions. The cloud is your friend and future--ignore it at your peril. That said, be aware of how your product fits with established cloud providers such as Google's Computer Engine, Amazon's AWS, Microsoft's Windows Azure, etc. Should you do your own cloud hosting or cooperate with what's out there? If you haven't pondered these questions, realize that you're already behind the competition. It’s crucial to stay up-to-date on all recent cloud trends and be able to provide appropriate recommendations and solutions to your clients.
3. Get Social If You Haven't Already
Solitude breeds genius, but networking is necessary for success when it comes to doing business.
The web is full of potential clients, and social media sites are the conversation threads that connect people and keep them talking. Obviously, you won’t be able to find new customers if you’re not taking part in the conversation! You can't just depend on Google Adwords to do the job--you need to be active on social media so that you don’t get lost in the web.
Don't limit yourself to just Facebook for the consumer side or LinkedIn for the professional side, either. Expand your options by hooking into Google + or even Twitter, which is great for engaging with industrythought leaders and journalists. The more social you become the better you will get at parlaying your company's value to a wider range of audiences.
It's also a great way to share your thoughts about the industry, allowing you to reach more people and draw attention to your ideas. Thought leadership is about having an interested, communicative readership, not necessarily getting your message across to everyone. Sodon't feel as if you have to be everywhere, because that’s not the point. Even if you're not a great communicator, start out on the platforms where most of your prospects are and don’t be afraid to seek out the services of someone who is well-versed in social media and can share your ideas with your community.
4. Establish Yourself As An Authority
Back in the day, MSPs were all about putting things together and making sure they wouldn’t fall apart. But the software and technology explosion has put MSPs in the enviable position of being the people who know everything and can calmly (and expertly) guide clients to the right answers.
In 2014, many businesses will be looking to MSPs as technology experts, not simply someone who can fix their systems when they break. This is a huge opportunity for MSPs – the chance to establish yourself as an expert and someone who adds value to their clients’ businesses. In order to stay relevant in 2014, make sure to broadcast yourself as a technology expert, not just as a repairman.
As a MSP in 2014, it’s possible to really add value to businesses with your services and expertise. Instead of being a handyman, you can be the trusted consultant that helps businesses expand exponentially by utilizing technology more effectively. See where you need to improve and make changes to exceed expectations in the New Year.
What changes do you expect to come in the New Year?
By Meaghan Moraes
By Gretchen Hoffman