If you attended the recent DattoCon 2018 event, it’s dollars to donuts you heard about near-term opportunities in the small and medium business (SMB) market.
Managed service providers (MSPs), however, also got a peek of what might transpire a bit further down the road. Ian McChord, vice president of product management at Datto Inc., outlined five potential directions for MSPs attending the data protection and MSP business management software vendor’s annual partner conference:
- Proactive management
Currently, customer pain — a server failure, for example — is typically what spurs an IT services provider into action. McChord suggested analytics and improved diagnostic data will shift the MSPs’ focus from reactive to proactive management. He said diagnostic capabilities, as part of an MSP’s toolset, are still in their infancy. But those features will have plenty of data to explore once they mature: McChord said remote monitoring and management tools already collect large amounts of data, but most of it remains untapped. Eventually, MSPs will be able to measure how many customer issues they manage proactively by determining the percentage of tickets generated through automated means versus end users.
- SaaS application management
McChord pointed to increasing use of SaaS among businesses as a form of shadow IT and a potential regulatory compliance issue. He pointed to the example of a hypothetical company that loads customer data into a newly purchased SaaS-based automated marketing tool, but lacks any sort of governance plan. “There is no backup strategy, no administration strategy and nobody is looking at who has access to customer data,” he said. For an MSP, the current situation will open future opportunities to provide SaaS application management, which he believes will be bundled into what some MSPs offer today as virtual CIO, or vCIO services. SaaS application management could also fall under the umbrella of a cloud governance service.
- User-centric backup
At DattoCon 2018, McChord said he expects to see a data protection paradigm shift as the current emphasis on backing up individual technology components gives way to “backup by user, not infrastructure.” The conventional thinking on protecting data on a laptop or other endpoint device ignores the reality that an employee’s data could just as easily exist in a SaaS application. The trend, McChord suggested, will be toward backing up a user’s data — wherever it lives.
- Home office IT
The growing ranks of employees who work full-time or part-time from home may also spark MSP opportunities. McChord called working from home the “Wild West of IT,” noting that companies’ work-from-home policies have little to do with IT policy. He said home-based employees may lack a standard set of IT tools and miss the mark when it comes to adequate home office security. MSPs have a chance to create a home-office package for businesses that don’t have the time to think about what a remote employee’s desk should look like, how it should be linked into the corporate network and how to provide security around it.
- Physical access control
Many MSPs attending DattoCon 2018 are likely to be already involved in providing customers some level of digital security. But physical security may not appear on the list of services. McChord believes digital and physical security should be linked in some way, noting that access to customers’ offices may be less secure than access to their mobile devices.