During the 1970s, everyone wanted to be a lawyer. Enrollment at law schools skyrocketed, and the legal profession enjoyed a surge of new members—not unlike what the managed services profession is going through at this very moment.
There is so much buzz in the IT channel today about managed services it is almost comical. Everyone either wants to be a managed services provider or sell something to MSPs. Yet, some skepticism remains about managed services.
There are some out there who view all the excitement around managed services as evidence that this profession cannot be real or sustainable, but nothing could be further from the truth.
I have been studying the managed services profession for the better part of a decade and have seen a lot of change during those years. I remember at least one time in the past five or six years when most of the world had given up on the managed services industry.
Mind you, these were so-called channel experts, including analysts, researchers and consultants. These “experts” have either eaten their words or are no longer in business.
The point is, there has always been an ebb and flow of interest in managed services, but the model will be around for a long time no matter what. Chances are, if you talk to anyone who has been in managed services for more than a year or two, he or she will tell you the same thing.
Why do I say all this? We shouldn’t lose sight of what is most important to the managed services profession: the end user.
End-user demand for managed services is about to explode. Just look at the hundreds of thousands of businesses around the world that have no concept about how to make IT support their business objectives. Even now, these companies are learning about managed services and seeking out qualified MSPs.
Complicating things even more is the fact that many businesses are just now linking the term “managed services” with proactive IT management.
This is where we need to focus our attention. Yes, more VARs need to adopt managed services. Yes, the MSP community needs to mature at a faster rate. Yes, MSPs need to cloak themselves in all the trappings of professionalism, such as ethics, continuing education and accreditation. But this all must take place with the goal of helping consumers bring their IT under control.
So how do we educate the end user? It’s easier than it sounds. Reactive IT services have not helped the majority of business consumers, so MSPs have to emphasize that managed services offer a vastly different experience from the past.
End users need to know this new form of IT management is called managed services. You should still brand your company’s services in a unique manner, but there is nothing wrong with calling it managed services. In fact, as user awareness continues to expand, having a common naming convention will be essential.
We have come a long way in the managed services industry. Yes, this industry has had its share of hardships, and it will continue to have them in years to come. But remember that whatever the IT channel may be saying at the moment should not matter when it comes to the long-term goal of helping users realize what they have only dreamed of: IT that works.
Charles Weaver is the co-founder and president of the MSP Alliance, a global trade group for the managed services/IT outsourcing industry.