For generations to come, the year 2020 will go down in history as one the most challenging ones for the global economy and businesses around the world. Along with the devastating effects in terms of human lives, the outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19) has brought uncertainty and financial instability for virtually every industry.
But if there is something to take away, it’s how the crisis has prompted companies to reinvent and accelerate digital plans, to adopt new technologies and sales models in order to adapt and survive – and for IT Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to step up to support businesses and employees in every way possible.
Millions of workers around the world had to leave the office and make a quick switch to remote working, without much notice at all. When lockdown restrictions came into effect back in March, it was the busiest couple of weeks we had ever experienced at Euro Systems. We saw a record-breaking number of tickets on our help desk, and a significant number of extra hours were required to support our customers in the unprecedented challenge.
Fast forward to the present, as restrictions are gradually eased – we have some time to reflect on what it all means, and what we can expect for the coming months.
In the initial stages of lockdown, MSPs had to work around the clock to help customers that were not ready for flexible working, to enable people to work from home. As every other industry and business type, IT providers also encountered challenges. Not being able to help a client on-site can sometimes significantly affect the speed of project delivery. So, adjustments had to be made, wherever possible, to deliver services remotely, as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
IT professionals have been working together as a community, to assist clients, businesses, and the wider public, since working from home was suddenly imposed for the vast majority. There is a lot of knowledge to share and to work with, which has led to experts and technology leaders offering free advice, webinars and other tools to help with the struggles that have risen in the midst of the pandemic.
A new focus on cybersecurity
In the initial stages of the pandemic, MSPs played a critical role providing small and medium sized businesses with the tools and the IT infrastructure to keep their business running. Enabling office-based workers to continue their work from home was only the first step, however.
The sudden shift to remote working has required new tools and exposed new security vulnerabilities. All around the world, we saw an increasing number of cyber attacks and threats taking place. Remote working means many people were using personal computers and mobiles for work and business purposes, and so, products that are designed to keep personal computers protected became essential.
MSPs have also focused on increasing security measures for protecting password and identities for customers. Passwords on their own are not secure enough and can be easily compromised, so it has been a case of quickly deploying password management and Multi-factor Authentication (MFA), also known as two-factor authentication (2FA). MFA immediately increases security and ensures that clients’ accounts are up to 99.9% less likely to be compromised. In a few simple steps, IT providers can deploy MFA to help protect an organisation against breaches due to lost or stolen credentials.
Beyond helping employees to work from home securely, MSPs have assisted companies in implementing cloud-based applications, and managing access and restrictions to certain applications, especially for furloughed staff.
Embracing new opportunities
The spread of Covid-19 has made remote working the new norm, but will this be a permanent situation? Many employers and workers have started to believe that working from home will become more common, even after the threat of the virus is gone. It’s difficult to know what the final picture will be, but it remains a fact that, as offices gradually re-open after lockdown, more and more employers are looking at new ways of flexible working.
As many organisations have been functioning remotely with little to no issue, it stands to reason that the future of work will become more flexible. Video-calls, online training sessions, webinars, online meetings, it all sounds too familiar now, doesn’t it? Remote working was already popular, though for a long time it was mainly part of benefits and perks packages offered to employees. The pandemic has certainly accelerated the need for remote working capabilities, and now telecommuting seems to be taking over as the new norm.
For the IT sector and MSPs, it means the crisis is bringing opportunities to provide value to clients seeking support for enhanced mobility and flexible working. Naturally, now that work-from-home setups are in place, there’s room for improving remote access solutions and security measures, and we can expect opportunities in the sector to move in this direction.
Cloud migrations are expected to increase after the pandemic, as they present an opportunity for remote employees to improve collaboration, and for companies to establish business resiliency. There will be a push towards implementing more robust cloud-based solutions, which means migrations to the cloud are likely to become one of the top opportunities for the months to come to drive revenue for MSPs, as well as VoIP solutions, business continuity and hardware sales.
As the pandemic increases the urge and demand for cloud services and security solutions, MSPs will play an increasingly vital role in finding the best solutions for different business types to enable them to work more flexibly and effectively. In line with this, IT providers will be likely to be tasked more and more to assist organisations in securing devices and protecting employees as they work remotely, especially for SMBs.
IT service providers have been re-focusing priorities to keep up with customers’ shifting needs during these challenging times. As IT specialists, we know how important it is to constantly adjust our IT strategies to suit our customers. In order to succeed in the post-pandemic landscape, MSPs will need to monitor the evolving demands; and re-think their service offerings to better respond to the new security and business technology needs.