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Managed services: the future of remote work

Gregg Lalle explains how MSPs can help SMBs face the future with confidence

The COVID-19 health pandemic upended just about every facet of life in 2020. Stay-at-home orders meant organisations of every size, in every sector, had to shift their operational practices at scale and embrace a plethora of remote applications and services.

Indications are that hybrid working is set to become a permanent fixture in the wake of the pandemic, as firms apply recent learnings to rethink their workforce and business models for enhanced innovation and flexibility.

Transitioning to the next normal will involve increased reliance on cloud platforms, automation, AI and robotics. The mounting complexity of the IT environment will pose a challenge for enterprises of every size, but it will be especially critical for the survival of SMBs.

Sharing the load
With IT teams already stretched to the limit, SMBs will have to prioritise time and resources for those strategic IT projects that will enable them to stay relevant and competitive in their markets.

To achieve this goal, and maintain end user productivity at all times, SMBs will be looking to offload day-to-day technical tasks, like software updates, backup and recovery, the initiation of VPNs and the troubleshooting of networking issues, to managed service providers (MSPs).

The recent rapid adoption of cloud platforms and remote collaboration and communication services stimulated by the COVID-19 crisis has expanded the universe and increased the complexity of daily IT operations for most SMBs. To build on and cost-effectively manage these technologies, SMBs will need to work with MSPs that have the cloud computing know-how and remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools necessary to maintain uptime and business continuity.

By eliminating the need to expand IT headcount, working with an MSP represents a cost-effective route to mitigating risk and achieving a predictable monthly cost for maintaining daily IT operations.

Tackling the cybersecurity challenge
The rapid shift to remote work and cloud apps has increased SMBs’ exposure to cybercrime. In a recent study 1, the Ponemon Institute identified attacks from compromised emails and ransomware, together with the increased utilisation of BYOD by remote employees, as some of the greatest risks facing SMBs

Unsurprisingly, this is galvanising them to change how they approach the growing complexity of cybersecurity. This is especially true of SMBs that need to counter the risks associated with rapid expansion of their infrastructure beyond the traditional confines of the corporate firewall.

To alleviate this burden and to acquire the deep expertise needed to manage every cloud platform they use, 91% of SMBs report that they plan to start using, or to change, their MSP. What’s more, they say they are prepared to pay up to 30% more for services supplied.

A recent study by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (EUAC)2 suggests this is a wise move, with changes in working and infrastructure patterns caused by the pandemic leading to a surge in cyberattacks that are also becoming more sophisticated, targeted, widespread and undetected.

Working with an MSP gives SMBs a highly streamlined and cost-effective route to enhancing how they shield their business and customers from bad actors.

Adopting new technologies
Planning for long-term goals and adapting their business to cope with evolving market models requires SMBs to stay one step ahead of the evolving technology landscape and to gain an understanding of how these technologies can be leveraged to serve the needs of customers, partners, suppliers and employees.

Guidance from MSPs that are familiar with their specific industry or sector-specific practices will help SMBs identify the technological advances of greatest benefit to them and give them the confidence and capability to tap into emerging technologies that can be used to future-proof their business.

Professional IT services
As the vaccination programme progresses, SMBs are making long-term plans for recovery. For many, that means leveraging a variety of digital and online technologies that will enable them to react quickly to new market challenges. Yet, with limited resources and in-house skills, SMBs know their transformation projects are at risk of stalling.

To cope with today’s 24/7 business realities, SMBs will need to be certain about the security and performance of their current IT environment and its ability to support the adoption of new digital and Industry 4.0 technologies. Partnering with an MSP is fast becoming the preferred option to assure business continuity and to refocus internal resources on core commercial goals.

Gregg Lalle is SVP International Sales and Strategy at ConnectWise, provider of a unified software platform that helps technology solution providers (TSPs) run and grow their business and meet the needs of their SMB customers with a range of IT and security services

  • 1. Cybersecurity in the Remote Work Era: A Global Risk Report. Sponsored by Keeper Security, Inc. Independently conducted by Ponemon Institute LLC, October 2020
  • 2. ENISA Threat Landscape (ETL) 2020report, the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA), with the support of the European Commission, EU Member States and the CTI Stakeholders Group
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