One of the issues is customers holding back from decisions because of the pace of change – ‘analysis-paralysis’ – as one speaker put it. MSPs need to become more understanding of their customers and their technology needs.
Fears about possible commoditisation of the sector, were quickly allayed by David Bellini, president of ConnectWise, who has been selling managed services for 25 years. He said: ‘The commoditision scare comes round every few years, and we’ve seen them off each time.’
Customers’ rising expectations was also an issue, and in such a fast moving industry what was perhaps regarded as a special term a year or so ago can swiftly become standard. This trend is being given additional momentum by ‘the millennials’ now in the workforce. This demographic expect always-on communications, constant innovation and are less keen on face-to-face engagement; even turning against voice and phone communications. As customers, they will have very different demands on managed services from earlier generations, yet the MSPs will still need to cater for the expectations of more traditional users.
The clear talking point throughout the day was about growth and expansion, while it was clear that everyone regarded managed services as a sector as having arrived. As Nadia Karatsoreous said in the final debate: ‘It is forever evolving; we’re in the middle, probably the best place possible. There is no end point, though.’ Also optimistic on this question was Bob Aitchison, sales director at QLogic ‘We are still finding customers who are just starting out on this.’