Lessons from 2020 that MSPs Can Take to the Bank in 2021

The past year has presented one challenge after the other, from the rapid transition to WFH (Work from Home) to the continually shifting cybersecurity landscape. Of course, the problems didn’t begin or end with the COVID-19 pandemic. Cybercriminals took advantage of all the confusion by ramping up a flurry of new attacks and changing their social engineering tactics. 

It would be an understatement to say that 2020 has been a year where business owners just can’t catch a break. Thankfully, with every trial comes the chance to learn and grow. This case perfectly describes the current situation for most MSPs.

Unlike many other occupations, IT professionals have a significant opportunity to grow their practice and increase recurring revenue thanks to the evolving business landscape. Looking back, the lessons learned in 2020 will allow service providers to prosper more than ever in the new year. 

Let’s dive into some of the most significant milestones of the past 9+ months.

1. Cybersecurity is Essential

MSPs knew cybersecurity was critical far before the pandemic. That situation did, however, ensure many of the most resistant decision-makers would start taking data protection more seriously. As cyber criminals took advantage of COVID-related fears, phishing and spam attacks increased exponentially. Combined with the number of unsuspecting employees working from home on unsecured networks, there was no stopping cyber threats without a good action plan and layered solutions. The recent changes underscore the need for more advanced cybersecurity services and the support of a good MSP.

2. Remote Work is Here to Stay

When everyone began to realize the pandemic would stick around far longer than initially expected, it became evident that a “return to normal” may never occur. IT services providers will need to maintain the capabilities that continue to benefit their clients, such as cloud offerings, endpoint protection, and collaboration tools. Whether businesses decide to stay fully remote or adopt a hybrid model, most will never fully return to their previous workplace, so MSPs will need to support a larger population of remote workers moving forward.

3. Monthly Recurring Revenue is Critical

It’s been hard for anyone to understand how the world would change from day to day. Uncertainty became a familiar feeling for organizational leaders in 2020. Business needs are always evolving and changing, even without a pandemic. With those factors in mind, managed service providers need to focus more on securing monthly contracts and generating MRR to properly build out their offerings and effectively support the WFH movement. Securing that recurring revenue will ensure MSPs can develop resiliency and fulfill more predictable long-term commitments.

4. Castle-and-Moat is Out, Zero-trust is In

Once employees began working from home networks, the perimeter became increasingly irrelevant. On top of that situation, many of those workers utilized suspect networks and devices, leaving MSPs with their hands full trying to manage and gain visibility into these vulnerable situations. Zero-trust is nothing new. However, the pandemic is forcing MSPs and their clients into switching to this type of security approach.

5. Building Relationships with Customers is A Must

In times like these, businesses have no choice but to grapple with immense uncertainty and fear. MSPs need the ‘we’re in this together’ mentality more than ever. Providers can strengthen relationships with their clients by asking more people more questions, including end-users. What are the company’s strategic plans? Where are they struggling, and how can you help? Even in good times, it is vital to maintain excellent customer service levels, demonstrating how much your team cares and can support their essential needs. IT professionals that fail to capitalize on those conversations and commitments will put their future growth plans at risk. 

6. Embrace Change, Or Else

If there’s anything we’ve learned this year, it’s that business situations can change in an instant. MSPs must be more flexible and be willing to adjust to survive and thrive. Those that delay and don’t adapt quickly to new business models are bound to fail, and taking weeks or months to respond to these changes will surely not be acceptable. Luckily, MSPs are already adept in enabling business transformation, utilizing new tech, and supporting remote workforce environments with email continuity. The importance of adaptability and maintaining composure under pressure cannot be underestimated going into 2021.

The New Normal

2020 was rough, and while there is no guarantee that 2021 will be exceptionally better, MSPs can still look to the new year with optimism. Making it successfully through one of the most challenging years in the tech era is an accomplishment and gives providers an excellent foundation from which to build.

People often say that “life is what you make of it.” When it comes to providing IT services during a pandemic, at least for MSPs not wholly reliant on restaurant and hospitality clients, that statement seems to hold up well.

The massive workplace changes in 2020 can either be seen as a detriment or an opportunity. MSPs will have to decide what it will mean moving forward. The future looks quite bright for those able to navigate the new norm and provide the product, services, and support their clients truly need.