COVID-19: How MSPs Are Adapting to the New Normal

Once viable COVID-19 treatments are found and the world goes back to work, it won’t be business as usual.

Adaptability

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the way companies work and connect. With stay-at-home orders in effect across multiple states and countries, organizations accustomed to face-to-face selling and account management must adapt in order to weather this seismic shift.

These events serve as a wake-up call. Organizations not previously equipped for remote work are at a serious disadvantage right now. Once viable COVID-19 treatments are found and the world goes back to work, it won’t be business as usual. 

The New Normal

The global economy has experienced a significant downturn due to pandemic-related shutdowns. Instead of a 3.3% U.S. market lift for 2020, we’re experiencing a 3% dip—losses rivaling those of the Great Depression.

Making matters worse, phishing and ransomware attacks are reaching unprecedented levels as organizations work from home. Security gaps, infrastructure, and video shortcomings are hindering productivity as remote technology use skyrockets in response to stay-at-home orders. 

COVID-19 MSP Impact

With companies rushing to implement work-from-home platforms, processes, and tools, it comes as no surprise that managed service providers (MSPs) are experiencing the greatest change in:

  • Activity – Service ticket submissions are at an all-time high as workers try to access programs like Microsoft Office 365 and Teams as well as virtual private network (VPN) portals from home—many for the first time.
  • Business – Customer service is essential in times of crisis. Having automated status updates built into your ticketing system can help cut down on calls to your busy tech support team. What’s more, sales messaging should focus on bolstering financial and employee health—two key pain points across all organizations right now.
  • Personal – Customers and employees alike are missing out on vital social interactions as well as potentially experiencing personal losses due to the pandemic. A little sensitivity can go a long way.

Overall Market Predictions

McKinsey & Company cites 5 factors that will determine the speed of recovery:

    1. Resolve – Address immediate needs required to address COVID-19 setbacks.
    2. Resilience – Address financial and health setbacks caused by the virus.
    3. Return – Create detailed return-to-business standards.
    4. Reimagination – Establish the new normal for the post-pandemic workplace.
    5. Reform – Determine necessary shifts to prevent further setbacks.

The research firm also provides four probable economic recovery scenarios that every company should be prepared to encounter. These outcomes are based on a y axis of “effectiveness of public health response” and an x axis of “effectiveness of government economic policy”:

    • A1: “virus recurrence; slow long-term growth, and muted recovery”
    • A2: “virus recurrence; return to trend growth, strong world rebound”
    • A3: “virus contained; slow recovery”
    • A4: “virus contained; strong growth rebound”

Furthermore, McKinsey & Company’s COVID-19: Implications for business study indicates up to an 18-month window before a viable vaccine is made available. Businesses cannot afford to stand still during this time. They must adapt now. 

Forrester Channel Impact Forecast

The technology channel was expected to experience sizable growth in 2020. However, recent events caused Forrester to lessen its 2020 growth forecast. Best case scenario, the tech space will slow to only 2% growth in 2020. 

Predictions for MSPs

While security and mobile workforce solutions—think VPNs, cloud infrastructure technologies, video conferencing, etc.—will experience a temporary boost, there’s likely to be a leveling off once workers return to their offices.

  • Business Model – As organizations look for external help to rapidly ramp up their mobile workforces, managed services provider (MSPs) will fare better than value-added resellers (VARs) as organizations need end-to-end—or fully outsourced—IT services rather than solutions and add-ons.
  • Use Cases – As organizations move to “remote-first” policies out of necessity, the demand for online collaboration, video meetings, and associated cloud services continues to grow.
  • Vertical Diversification – As the pandemic reshapes economic demand, consider diversifying your customer base. Healthcare, biotech, food retailers, food delivery services are experiencing unprecedented growth. To better understand the E-commerce landscape, including the surge in demand for computer monitors, keyboards & mice, and office chairs up as employees look to create a temporary home office, review the top 100 growing and declining e-commerce categories.
  • Business goes online – As educational institutions, retailers, healthcare, legal, and non-profit organizations go online, use cases for cloud services are growing—e.g. telemedicine, online communities, faith-based services, etc. MSPs can support the growing need for digital agency with services that deliver or enable:
      • Cloud hosting
      • E-commerce
      • Connectivity
      • Security

Regulations aren’t going away

While some regulations are being relaxed to allow COVID-19-related solutions to come to fruition faster, healthcare, legal, and finance regulations aren’t likely to disappear anytime soon. In fact, many predict even stricter regulations as we move past the crisis to better prepare if something like this ever happens again. Therefore, solutions for these markets need to incorporate relevant compliance measures, such as:

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act
  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for companies conducting business within the European Union

What won’t change

Physical distancing is likely to continue until a viable solution can be found. Additionally, organizations and individuals will source goods locally as geographically dispersed resources become harder to access. 

4 Recommendations for MSPs

  1. Remember that the tech space and MSPs still hold a strong position
  2. Focus on your clients now and reinforcing value
  3. Adapt your business to new, remote-first use cases
  4. Remember that taking actions now prepares your business for what’s ahead

What Axcient is Doing

Serving as your partner through this challenging transition, we’re ready to help you with work-from-home solutions like Anchor for cloud-based collaboration as well as Microsoft Office 365 data protection services like CloudFinder. For more information, download our Financial Support Guide.

Top 10 verticals we help MSPs support:

    1. Healthcare
    2. Financial services
    3. Legal
    4. Manufacturing
    5. Education / Non-profit
    6. Architectural / Engineering
    7. Government
    8. Real estate
    9. Technology
    10. Retail 

Data protection & support for regulated industries

In addition to collaboration and cloud security services, look for partners who will stand by you, ready to help you deliver cloud services backup in regulated verticals.

Accelerated roadmap

To better serve MSPs, we’ve accelerated our product roadmaps for Anchor, CloudFinder, and Direct-2-Cloud. For details, click here.

Helping MSPs Deliver Peace-of-Mind

More than technology solutions, MSPs are delivering much-needed solace during unprecedented times. As the environment shifts by the day and new problems and opportunities arise, we’ll stand ready to help our partners over each new hurdle. To learn more about becoming an Axcient partner, click here.