MSPs: Here Are 6 Takeaways From 2018

It’s been a long year for many of us, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been informative. Over the course of the year, I sat down with many of our clients to determine some of 2018’s key takeaways. While you’re developing your business plan for the new year, some of the things we at Bowman Williams learned could be useful to you.

Microsoft’s cloud game is gaining traction among IT providers. Over the course of the year, our clients have voiced their opinions on the cloud, and what we at Bowman Williams have learned is the following: While AWS has once again topped the list of public cloud providers, Microsoft Azure is gaining traction with our clientele. Even though Microsoft continues to refuse to reveal Azure’s revenue numbers, the tech giant does provide percentage growth. Reported by Microsoft in October 2018, Azure’s revenue grew by 76 percent year-over-year. The bad news? Azure’s revenue rose 89 percent in the prior quarter. Despite the slower growth rate, our MSPs are still betting on Microsoft.

Cybersecurity is top of mind for MSPs during the hiring process. The need for cybersecurity experts will rise as security threats continue to be a concern. It’s not a surprise more and more of our MSPs are looking to specialize in cybersecurity: The market is expected to grow to $251 billion in 2023. Also, here’s a little something for IT providers to chew on in the coming year: What do risk managers and nonrisk professionals believe is the biggest risk to the financial markets in 2019? Cybersecurity.

Supporting various platforms is a must. Our clients need more technicians with Mac experience — plain and simple. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s been following our industry closely. A survey conducted in June 2017 revealed the following: Windows owners are more likely to make a switch to Mac. Not only that but 25 percent of these users expected to make the switch six months after responding to the survey. This is why I recommend IT providers hire technicians with backgrounds at MSPs; unlike other technicians, these candidates can operate in various cross-platform environments.

Staff augmentation is on the rise. More and more of our clients are using staff augmentation to provide customers with a sense of comfort. What do I mean by that? Well, instead of keeping all of their resources off-site, some of our clients have been assigning their own technicians to work full-time at client offices to establish a presence.

Everybody needs to have client-facing experience. MSPs are service organizations first and technology companies second. Even your technicians need to be able to communicate effectively with clients nowadays, especially verbally — and this isn’t just a must in the IT industry. The number one skill executives and hiring managers are looking for in new hires is being able to effectively communicate orally. Not sure how a candidate would interact with customers? Act out role-play exercises with the candidate.

MSPs are continuing to adopt agile methodologies. The majority of business leaders are aware of how agile methodologies can impact their businesses positively — and the MSP space is no different. We’ve been seeing a rise in the adoption of agile methodology over the past year or so, specifically with regard to pods, where MSPs are breaking out service teams into pods of no more than eight people to tackle client projects. Each pod contains a team lead, and T1 and T2 technicians. Members of each pod report directly to their team lead and each team lead reports directly to the service manager. From what we at Bowman Williams can tell, agile growth will continue in 2019.

Going into 2019, take the above takeaways from 2018 into consideration when developing your yearly business objectives, and with some effort, you’ll be on your way.