How remote working demands are putting the squeeze on MSPs

What are the topline demands facing managed IT services, as they help companies migrate to remote working capabilities?
10 April 2020

Accenture is one of the biggest managed IT services providers in the world. Source: Shutterstock

Employees across the US and Europe are quickly familiarizing themselves with the ‘new norm’ in remote working, with the pace of migration so rapid that IT managed service providers (MSPs) are being forced into play catch-up.

Stay at home directives have turned the enterprise workforce into a largely mobile workforce for the duration that social distancing norms are enforced. And the IT service operators who were servicing the enterprise in the office space are now having to turn around and service the staff on an individual level.

This particular pandemic has been notable in the sense that it doesn’t discriminate, instead both large organizations and smaller SMEs must manage the mass migration towards remote working scenarios. Both the volume and the speed of transition is putting a sizeable strain on IT operations managed in-house, in more ways than one.

Hardware & tools intensive

Omnichannel service operators that are capable of managing multiple fronts have pointed to the overnight need for hardware as a drain on MSPs’ resources, to get remote working employees adequately set up.

In addition to the laptops, monitors, and keyboards there are new, additional ‘stock’ requirements such as webcams.

Such operators who might help in acquiring such critical hardware in a short period of time usually work closely with their clients to accelerate the transition, and in some cases to smooth out any logistical and technical wrinkles that might arise at the time.

During such a trying period, it’s worth noting that many clients are grasping the situation and are working within the acceptable means, such as by purchasing hardware products based on availability and necessity rather than on their usual preferences.

This needs-based approach is also how many IT operators are aiding clients to deploy collaboration tools (many for the first time ever) like Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex Teams. IT support has become an integral part of the new tool acquisition and licensing process, because of their expertise but also because the rapid turnaround to working from home would be severely curtailed if the right tools and services were not conscripted.

Cost management flexibilty

Tech research firm International Data Corp. (IDC) estimates that the annual global spending on IT might drop to one percent of company budgets in 2020, a massive drop from the pre-coronavirus forecast of over four percent.

With companies responding to the poor economic outlook by tightening on expenditures, a MSP is often a cheaper alternative to hiring a permanent staffer to support IT requirements.

MSPs are usually a collective of IT specialists, potentially specializing in disparate areas from networking to cybersecurity. In this way, the service provider is more agile than a possibly cost-prohibitive IT support staff, as the company can reach out when they have a particular problem and receive specialist guidance in return.

MSPs are usually the preferred option of smaller businesses, alleviating the financial burden and freeing up resources for other budgetary concerns.

More than one managed IT provider has pointed out how the global crisis has elevated their status as a lifeline in the eyes of corporate customers, who probably saw them as tech support in the (very) recent past.

This shift in perspective is now fueling the meteoric adoption of remote working options, ensuring performance and IT best practices are being observed, and offering customers a reliable crutch in times of heightened uncertainty.