Today’s small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) are struggling to remain competitive and grow their bottom line amidst changing workforce trends and a rapidly shifting tech landscape. From cybersecurity threats to the rise of remote employment, constant disruption has become the new normal, and business owners know that IT is key to their survival.
According to a survey performed by Forbes, 78% of small businesses say that technology will be a top investment for them in 2022. It’s no surprise, then, that managed services are on track to reach $274 billion by 2026: without the resources of a large enterprise, small businesses turn to managed service providers (MSPs) to help them fill the gaps in their IT strategy.
Unfortunately, all MSPs are NOT created equal, as many business owners soon discover. To thrive in 2022, organizations need an IT partner that is proactive, forward-thinking, and – above all – innovative to boot. In this article, we’ll explain what businesses can get out of an MSP, and what sets the innovative ones apart from the rest.
Why Are Businesses Choosing MSPs?
Large enterprises can afford to do everything by themselves – it’s a perk of being on the Fortune 500.
When Google wants to build a data center, they don’t call anyone: they buy the land, build the warehouse, and may even build their own servers when the mood strikes. For small businesses – on the other hand – the time and cost of deploying even simple services can be a drain on resources.
That’s where MSPs come in: by taking full responsibility for the management and delivery of services like networking, infrastructure and security, MSPs offer IT solutions at a more affordable cost than most small businesses could provide on their own. There are other benefits as well –
- MSPs bring security controls and other industry best practices with their solutions, protecting their customers and providing them with peace of mind
- They provide greater flexibility for changing business needs, and rapid scalability as their customers grow
- They are able to keep experts on their payroll that smaller businesses could never afford
But best of all: unlike traditional outsourced IT providers, MSPs are free to innovate, providing opportunities for real transformation and change. As long as they deliver the results their customers are looking for, they can spend all day perfecting their services, experimenting with new methods of delivery and integration. But not all MSPs do.
The Bare Minimum
Some businesses who advertise themselves as a “managed service provider” behave more like an IT vendor: while they deploy products or services and maintain them at a basically functioning level, they do not leverage the technology to its full potential or add to its value. Signs of a low-quality MSP include the following:
- They do not provide specialized expertise – the best MSPs bring a diverse team of experts on the cutting edge of their services.
- They behave in a purely responsive way – when a problem arises, low-quality MSPs focus on a quick fix without addressing underlying issues to prevent it from happening again.
- They don’t shape the service to the customer – they aren’t concerned with their customer’s mission, differentiators, or long-term goals. They deliver a “one-size-fits-all” solution, which fits no one at all.
While this “bare minimum” approach might satisfy stagnant businesses in highly stable and non-competitive industries, most know better: in 2018, 71% of executives said they were pushing their service providers to innovate, rather than improve on “back-office functions”. Four years later, the need for innovation is felt more urgently than ever before.
What Makes an MSP Innovative?
At a high-level, the difference between an innovative MSP and the rest is simple: they take ownership of your results. They go the extra mile not only to meet your goals, but to reduce your costs, raise your bottom line, and boost your mission resilience against the changing world of IT trends and threats.
With the right mindset, MSPs can innovate and drive innovation for their customers in more than one way – but these are the most important:
- Innovative Solutions
An innovative service provider introduces new solutions to old problems. Take insider threats, for instance: security incidents caused by insiders have risen by 44% since 2020, including employees who are lured into clicking on a phishing email or malicious link at work.
At MainSpring, our Automated Security Awareness Program tackles this problem directly in an innovative way: through simulated training exercises, we teach our customers how to avoid threats by experiencing those threats for themselves in a safe environment. Consequently, the number of successful attacks is dramatically reduced.
- Innovative Delivery
Aside from introducing new solutions, high-quality MSPs can add value to existing solutions in innovative ways. For instance, the average MSP will perform an IT audit when they start doing business with a client to ascertain baseline performance – but most stop there, and won’t perform another until it’s time to renew their contract.
At MainSpring, we provide our clients with continuous auditing for continual improvement of KPIs and IT metrics. Meeting on a regular basis, we assess and re-assess our practices week over week to provide real-time intelligence while ensuring the highest possible standards of performance. Ultimately, this enables our clients to stay ahead of the changing IT landscape, proactively mitigate risk, and continually refine their processes for time savings and reduced costs.
- Innovative Collaboration
Beyond the products and services which they directly provision, the best MSPs collaborate with customers to proactively shape their overall IT strategy in innovative ways, building a resilient and mature foundation for future growth.
At MainSpring, we provide our customers with virtual chief information officers (vCIOs) who work as expert consultants, guiding decisions based on a combination of technological and business considerations. Serving the same function as a full-time CIO, they remain vendor agnostic, ensuring that their clients adopt tools that align with long-term needs and objectives.
An innovative MSP goes the extra mile: they are driven and engaged, constantly adding value to their own services and finding new ways to help their customers stay ahead of the curb. Above all, they help you to make better decisions based on your values and goals, shaping the solution to the client and not the other way around. An innovative MSP prepares their customer to thrive in the midst of changing trends and leaves them in a better position than where they started.
MainSpring is your go-to for IT strategy and support. Our award-winning managed services are handled by a diverse team of experts on the cutting edge of business technology, with decades of combined experience serving small-to-medium sized businesses. We adopt a proactive mindset to every customer, taking ownership of your results and working diligently to exceed your business needs. To learn more, contact us today.