The extended disruption from 2020 has caused enterprises significant challenges, ranging from rapid shifts in how they engage with their suppliers, through to cash flow management concerns and the need to find ways for staff continue working through lockdowns and mandatory social distancing.
At the same time, business leaders have understood the pressing need to prepare for the inevitable uptick. As noted in a KPMG report, “History has shown that companies that take a strategic future-focused investment approach during times of unrest were better placed when the global economy rebounded." To do this, enterprises have turned to partners, both as a way of managing resources and working with a strategic partner on technology solutions. As a report from IDC shows, while overall worldwide IT spending will decline by 5.1 per cent in 2020, infrastructure and services spending will increase by 3.8 per cent, as organisations across all sectors look to the cloud and services both as a cost cutting initiative and a way of enabling changes to work practices (e.g. remote working).
As a report from Deloitte shows, adapting to the post-COVID business environment does mean thinking forward, but also managing workforce disruption, enacting cost control, and anticipating uncertainty. Accelerating digital transformation and strategically investing in automation to scale the capabilities of the organisation are key, the report argues.
Asia-Pacific is no different to the global trend, but as IDC group vice president of Asia Pacific, Sandra Ng, noted in a report on Channel Asia, the “bounce” can be expected soon for the region. “While the outbreak negatively impacts the overall sentiment of enterprise spend, especially among sectors like travel, retail, hospitality, supply chains and manufacturing, it also heightens the need for enterprises to bolster remote working capabilities and digital collaboration infrastructure (e.g. handling exponential increase in simultaneous video sessions),” Ng said.
“The overall Asia Pacific services market is likely to experience a hit in the first eight to nine months and rebound in the remaining of the year.”
This sentiment is echoed by Gartner, which predicts that cloud-based solutions are one of the few bright spots for IT sales, with an expected growth of 6.3 per cent. Clearly, organisations see the cloud and services model as a solution to the current climate.
Top three new priorities for MSPs
The role of the MSP through all of this – both the handling of the initial disruption and building a pathway to recovery – is of critical importance to enterprises across the region and can be a strong opportunity for those who put their efforts in the right places. We believe that MSPs should focus on these three key priorities in the months ahead to best support their customers and put themselves in a strong strategic position moving forward:
- Understanding the shifts in hour businesses are done. There are still many organisations that are struggling to adapt to remote work best practices, and this has wide-ranging implications, from lost productivity right through to introducing critical security vulnerabilities into the network. MSPs need to assist their partners in making the transition, providing strategic advice around what the new, cloud-heavy environment should look like, and continue to evolve the transformation strategy as conditions change. After the basics like having the right cloud solutions, hardware, and collaboration tools are covered; MSPs should look deeper at how they can help customers that need to digitally transform to keep their businesses successful.
- Building closer and deeper relationships with customers. By structuring the relationship with the customer around ongoing, value-adding services, the MSP can assist with transformation activities while helping their customer optimise their costs and maintain a high level of reliability with regards to technology spend. This assists the MSP in building a stickiness with the customer, while at the same time providing much-needed stability in revenue to the MSP at a time where cash flow as critical. By creating deeper relationships with customers MSPs move beyond competing on price, and build their unique value compared to their competition.
- “Do more with what you have”. One area where MSPs will be able to add meaningful and long-term value to their customer’s business is in the strategic use and monitoring of ROI on existing IT assets and infrastructure.. As the IDC report notes, expected spending on hardware for 2020 is significantly down, so MSPs need to be aware that their customers are very interested in solutions that allow them to drive more value out of utilising existing IT assets. By helping customers get insight into the adoption and usage of the IT assets they own, MSPs will be able to help them understand and plan for getting the most for every penny spent.
“Businesses today, more than ever, need to continue to evolve and get the most value out of all their resources,” Angela Choo, General Manager APAC, Voleer, said. “This includes transforming their business models to better meet customer needs, where often, digitalisation is a key to success. For IT service providers, this provides a great opportunity to deepen their expertise and work closely together with their customers to evolve their technology stacks and ensure usage of tech solutions is driving their businesses forward. MSP’s are in prime position to deliver high-value services not only by ensuring that data is secure, but also enhancing that data to for leaders to make strategic business decisions that make a real impact on their bottom lines.”
Solutions to help MSPs build business in 2020
Automation is key for MSPs that wish to build out their services portfolio to the point that they can offer whole-of-environment support to their customers. Automation enables the MSP to be more proactive and become more reactive in managing and assessing a customer’s IT environment. At a time where workflows and availability for on-site management is limited, automation also allows for more robust remote management and support.
BitTitan has developed Voleer to provide day 1 ROI via a suite of robust, automated tools. Out of the box, a MSP gains the ability to launch automations with a single click, manage and monitor all automations in near real-time via the cloud-based portal, and schedule automated tools with 24/7 compute available. The solution is compatible with a wide range of different platforms, including Office 365, and offers robust security, cost optimisation, software asset management and proactive monitoring tools.
“We realise a lot of CHASSasia customers’ priorities and needs have changed this year. Our philosophy during these difficult times - if customers don’t survive, neither will we. We need to better support our customers and transform their businesses to meet the new demands of the market. By using Voleer automation tools we were able to quickly create and launch our new services program to remotely manage and secure our customers’ cloud platforms, which has allowed us to grow our key offerings and drive new revenue.” Yun Ta Ming, CEO, CHASSasia said. “Within a short period of time, customers are able to benefit from tremendous cost savings and optimization. Voleer tools are quick and easy to deploy, so CHASSasia is able to provide data and insights for our customers to make strategic business decisions for their current challenges.”
Providing MSPs new opportunities
With licensing and traditional IT procurement and management strategies on the wane, MSPs need to innovate their business models in order to deliver to their customers the kinds of solutions and services that the events of 2020 have delivered into focus. These trends were already projected from over a decade ago, but the disruption of the year has accelerated them. Effective automation solutions are more critical for MSPs now than ever.