The COVID-19 pandemic has affected different businesses in different ways – but it has made its mark across the board. Companies across the spectrum are re-evaluating their IT environments to support new ways of operating, efficient ways of communicating, and the best defenses against cyberattacks. One growing market for managed services providers in 2021 is providing solutions and services to professional, legal, and engineering firms.
Matthew Adkins, service coordinator at SunPoint IT Solutions, LLC, in Oakland, CA, and a member of The ASCII Group, says, “This is a trying time, and busy professional offices can no longer get by with some gear from Best Buy, the kid down the street, and a wing and a prayer. They need the professional, forward-looking, secure services that only an MSP can provide, and they know it.”
ASCII member Mike Bloomfield, president geek of Staten Island-based Tekie Geek, adds, “Any serious business owner understands the importance of managed services for their professional offices.”
In-Demand Managed Services
Within your managed services portfolio, you most likely have a range of products and services that can provide value to these businesses as they regroup after the initial impact of the pandemic, economic shutdowns, and transition to remote work.
For example, Bloomfield says cybersecurity is top of mind for these companies, especially after the announcement from SolarWinds in December that it had experienced a data breach impacting thousands of users, including some U.S. government agencies.
“The hard truth is the hackers have been doing the marketing for us, and business owners are learning that we are here to help them by minimizing risk and protecting their valuable business data,” Bloomfield says.
The pandemic has also driven professional, legal, and engineering offices to change their procedures, creating a need for new solutions and services. Adkins says hosted applications are most in demand. “Clients want to be able to work anywhere at any time from any platform, and they want solutions to scale up and down with their business,” he explains.
Additionally, Bloomfield sees an increased demand for managed IT services and business continuity solutions as well as unified communications “With COVID-19, we have seen many organizations ready to make the leap to unified communications to streamline communication both externally and internally. We have also seen a huge increase in the need for virtual conference platforms.”
Professional Offices Get a Reality Check
The pandemic has also driven professional, legal, and engineering firms to take a new perspective on IT and digital transformation.
“COVID-19 has made it very clear to that that they can’t continue to use last decade’s technology and survive. If the inability to work from home doesn’t put them out of business, cybercriminals will,” says Adkins. “So, they are asking for completely integrated, secure cloud solutions and portable devices rather than servers, desktops, and desk phones.”
Bloomfield points out that businesses are also looking at the continued feasibility of remote work, which is also impacting their directions with IT. “We are seeing many businesses look at their operating costs and make decisions regarding whether they will stay remote,” he says. Bloomfield adds that Tekie Geek has used this pivotal moment for companies as an opportunity to meet new businesses, help them address this need and introduce them to their services.
Advice for MSPs in 2021
Bloomfield’s advice to other managed services providers is to be honest, not overpromise, and “most importantly, make sure you are properly protecting them. Don’t cut corners to sign a deal with the client. All it takes is one breach to destroy everything that you have created.”
Adkins advises taking a customer-centric approach to provide optimal solutions for your clients making changes this year. “You must sit down with every client to understand their current struggles and needs,” he says. “Then determine what your solution for them should look like and engage with those platforms, security, and application vendors to make it happen.”
Managed services providers, along with their professional, legal and engineering clients, need to take some time to adapt to the changes over the past year. Adkins reminds MSPs, “You need to stop doing business like you did in 2019.”
About The ASCII Group, Inc.
The ASCII Group is the premier community of North American MSPs, MSSPs, VARs and solution providers. The group has over 1,300 members located throughout the U.S. and Canada, and membership encompasses everyone from credentialed MSPs serving the SMB community to multi-location solution providers with a national reach. Founded in 1984, ASCII provides services to members, including leveraged purchasing programs, education and training, marketing assistance, extensive peer interaction and more. ASCII works with a vibrant ecosystem of major technology vendors that complement the ASCII community and support the mission of helping MSPs and VARs to grow their businesses. For more information, please visit www.ascii.com.