None of us need another reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the way technology and managed service providers (MSPs) do business. It’s fair to say that the tech industry is always changing—the pandemic simply shoved certain trends and activities into the spotlight (looking at you, remote work!). In doing so, however, it’s also fair to say that tech providers of all stripes have an increasing amount of business-critical issues on their plates lately.
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Spoiler alert: things probably aren’t going to slow down. End-user spending on public cloud services is expected to increase by more than 18% in 2021, representing upwards of $300 billion. Cloud is also accounting for a greater portion of global IT spending as a result of the pandemic. The managed services market—worth about $152 billion in 2020—is also exploding, with an estimated annual growth rate of over 11% up to 2026.
Providers need to be ready to take on this growth, and should be strategizing ways to do so. According to CompTIA, 47% of IT professionals say reaching new customer segments will drive positive growth for their business in 2021, 44% say selling new lines of product will help them grow, and 43% say improving sales and marketing efforts will push them forward. Furthermore, optimizing internal costs and operations, securing remote workforces and ensuring business continuity remain high on the list of priorities for both IT providers and their clients.
Acquiring new customers, selling new products and solutions and optimizing marketing are all undoubtedly effective ways to ensure your MSP business rides the rising wave of cloud profitability. How to complete these objectives, however, is understandably more complicated. Ongoing education for MSPs is therefore absolutely vital for sustaining growth in the current market.
Prioritizing skills development and training
When it comes to improving technical skills, 67% of IT professionals say building skill in a new area is important, and 22% are focused on increasing their business operations skillsets. At the same time, 23% of MSPs say sales and marketing keep them up at night. Drilling down on education in these areas is what will separate the boys from men, so to speak, with regards to capitalizing on channel growth.
What kind of training programs represent the best education for MSPs? There’s a lot of information out there on this front, so providers will have to use their discretion as to what specifically works best for them. Data collected by CompTIA suggest that methods for improving IT staff knowledge and performance include more e-learning opportunities, aligning training with development goals as well as providing more cross-training between functions, among others. Additionally, more than half of MSPs surveyed report that increasing or improving cybersecurity skills will be essential to market performance in the coming years.
Companies occupying the IT and MSP channels didn’t exactly need another challenge added to their to-do lists. And yet, focusing on ongoing training and education is what will make a whole host of other looming business obstacles seem that much more surmountable. It’s common knowledge that it’s more cost-effective to invest in training for existing employees than to educate new hires, just as maintaining current clients is more efficient than acquiring new ones. Looking at education for the MSP channel from this perspective, it’s difficult to argue the investment won’t pay off. On the contrary, we’re willing to wager big money that it will.
Promoting MSP learning
Sherweb has been committed to MSP learning for years. Sharing cloud expertise and helping our network of more than 6,000 partners finesse their business strategy is baked into our core values. Sherweb also understands the unique challenges faced by the channel. As the global pandemic has exponentially increased demand for remote work solutions, cloud infrastructure and cybersecurity, we’ve been concentrated on how to help MSP partners gain and fortify knowledge that will help them respond.
Some of our initiatives to provide education for MSPs include:
- Partner University: Newly launched, Partner University is a library of on-demand videos featuring a wide array of different skill paths. Whether its product knowledge, technical expertise, marketing or business operations, participating partners can choose a range of different to learn from at their own pace.
- MBA for MSPs: Based on material presented at Sherweb’s Accelerate Cloud Summit, this series of online videos provides participants with actionable takeaways and advise for creating and executing a viable business plan.
- Marketing Program: Get strategies and sales enablement tools to launch effective marketing campaigns, and learn how to leverage events such as webinars to drive lead generation.
- Dynamics P2P Network: Sometimes we don’t have all the answers, but there’s a good chance that one of our partners does! The Dynamics P2P Network matches partners with other solution providers that can meet their specific needs.
- MPN ID Consultations: The Microsoft ecosystem is highly complex, and cloud providers aren’t always sure how to make the most of their Microsoft relationship. Our MPN ID and related Microsoft consultations solve that problem, and help ensure partners’ Microsoft offerings are as profitable as possible.
School’s never out, but that’s OK!
It’s safe to say there we’ll probably never run out of new concepts to learn or trends to track—it’s the business we’re in. In fact, the challenge is more in choosing what new things to learn or improve on.
It’s on this front where Sherweb is most motivated to support partners. By championing education for the MSPs, our goal is not only to set partners up for success, but also to emphasize how a commitment to continual learning will positively affect MSP businesses in the long run.