Over the past couple of years, my company has evolved and grown to reach the $10 million mark and beyond. How did we accomplish that? Well, we tackled it in a handful of different ways—some of which I’ve laid out in my previous posts—but the most prominent was the exercise of constantly looking at ourselves and our industry in the mirror. By taking the time to consider the best plan of action and assess where we need to evolve and how we can innovate, our MSP business was able to remain relevant, competitive, and progressive.
To wrap up this series, I’m going to share how MSPs can take full advantage of the future IT has to offer. With that being said, here are a couple of key trends we’re seeing in the crystal ball.
IT Is No Longer Just a Department
The IT department has shifted to be part of every department in a business—not simply a stand-alone department. Today, executives and managers have to make technical decisions on a routine basis. Marketing departments no longer need IT to setup a customer relationship management (CRM) server when they can sign up for something like Salesforce. HR departments can also register and configure their own human resource information system (HRIS) without engaging IT in any way.
Now, I’m not saying that IT has become irrelevant—because it hasn’t—but there’s been a shift in the way IT is looked at. In the old way of thinking, you had IT on one side and business operations on the other. Nowadays, if MSPs insist on keeping these two as separate, their phones will eventually stop ringing. A bigger opportunity has emerged for MSPs to enable clients with IT operations that will help them become more efficient and profitable in a way that directly aligns with their core business initiatives.
IT Is Easier, Not Simpler
IT used to be simple, but not easy. Everything was based on a consistent Microsoft server platform that required certified professionals to design, implement, and support. Now, IT is easier, but much more intricate. For example, cloud platforms are not as technically complicated, but there are many to choose from. With trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), various endpoints and devices have poured into the workplace—making the management of these endpoints more complex than ever. So, MSPs need to now shift their focus from routine IT support to using their expertise to do more impactful work that can help businesses simplify the way they handle IT operations.
Make Your Job About More Than IT
Who has a better vantage point into understanding the inner workings of our clients’ organization than us MSPs? Consider the fact that we have deep insight and access into the systems, business processes, and people working in every aspect of the business. However, many MSPs don’t realize the opportunity this can present and often end up passing it by. Instead, we can use the information and insight we have to do more than just recommending client move their email to the cloud. MSPs can now provide deeper value by understanding what people are trying to do and helping them do it better. Essentially, MSPs can become the true strategic business advisor they are always preaching to be.
Understand How Client Needs Have Changed
In the early years, the average MSP client was technically illiterate, which meant they would fully lean on you for help and support. Today, the workplace is full of people who have years and years (or a lifetime) of experience. They no longer need our help to be technically adept because it’s now part of their nature.
Nevertheless, understanding this change can allow MSPs to be more focused on providing a different kind of value. Clients no longer need to understand how to use technology, they need to understand how to use technology more efficiently. In the future, MSPs will likely be evaluated by how well they help employees do more with the technology they already know how to use, so understanding this goal can help you position your MSP business for success.
Let’s face it, we work in the fastest of all the fast-moving industries, yet we tend to not like change. It's ok to admit it! A shift in the technology landscape means a new business model for us. We don't love going back to the drawing board and finding new ways to drive revenue and profit year after year. There's no shame in wishing things wouldn't change, but there is a lot of money to lose in pretending they shouldn't.
A large part of growing past the $10M mark as an MSP is leading this charge rather than following it. We've heard for years that MSPs will become irrelevant, but the only irrelevant MSPs are the ones who are still trying to hold onto the past. The fastest growing are those who have accepted that change is undergoing and have jumped into the driver's seat.
There's $10M More Waiting for You
With the rising threat landscape, more complex technology, and the increased number of vulnerabilities and endpoints to manage, clients are more willing than ever to pay for the value MSPs provide. Most companies are still not equipped to navigate the evolving technology landscape, and most MSPs are not ready to meet their needs quite yet. So, there's plenty of room for the few of us to take charge and fill that space.
$10 million is just a number. It's a good number, but it's pretty small compared to what is available right in front of us. The key here is to aim high, because if you take these trends into consideration and complete your journey to $10M, there could be $10M more waiting for you to seize in the future.
By Carlos Borges
By Ray Vrabel