As 2017 kicks off, the IT channel finds itself in transition as clients continue to adopt cloud strategies and start assessing emerging trends such as the Internet of Things and edge computing. This requires MSPs to understand and prepare for these trends if they are to succeed in the future.

MSPs this year will have some serious decisions to make. For instance, you can no longer put off implementing a cloud strategy. The future of managed services and cloud are intertwined. It will be much harder to leverage new opportunities such as edge computing and IoT without a cloud strategy.

You could look at 2017 as the Year of Big Decisions. Here are five major trends likely to influence those decisions:

Cloud inevitability
Cisco estimates 83 percent of all data center traffic within three years will flow through a cloud infrastructure, up from the current 65 percent. Enterprises are moving more and more critical workloads to the cloud. At the same time, up to 80 percent of small businesses will be using the cloud in some form. Even though many MSPs haven’t figured out how to profit from the cloud, you’re running out of time. Vendors will look for partners to manage cloud offerings for customers, and customers will be demanding those services. If they can’t get them from you, they’ll go to a competitor.

Digital Transformation
Organizations large and small are starting to implement digital transformation strategies to hone operations and enhance customer outcomes. Digital transformation touches existing critical business application and databases, mobile technology and storage systems, as well as emerging technologies such as edge servers and applications, IoT systems and data analytics. The goal of digital transformation is to update and integrate all these systems so they can work in unison to support business goals. This creates opportunities for MSPs to offer services and guidance to enable transformation strategies.

New Service Opportunities
New managed services opportunities will emerge in the coming year as more vendors look for ways to engage partners and retain customers with recurring-revenue models. In the past year, we saw the launch of managed power services by APC by Schneider Electric, opening new opportunities for MSPs and IT solution providers to play in the recurring-services space. Keep an eye out for similar opportunities as vendors seek to turn everything into a service, including hardware, software licensing and product warranties.

Partnership Evolution
Digital transformation and IoT implementations are forcing IT players to view the business in new ways. We’ll see some strange bedfellows as MSPs and IT solution providers partner not only with telecommunications agents but also businesses such as furniture suppliers, medical device makers and auto manufacturers to serve customers. As everything from smartphones to home appliances to automobiles becomes “connected,” new types of partnerships will be necessary. MSPs should start identifying potential non-traditional partners as they look to leverage new technologies.

Security Awareness
Each year seems to break new records in security incidents and new types of threats. 2017 isn’t likely to buck the trend, which means MSPs must keep abreast of new and emerging threats, and new security solutions to combat those threats. Customers expect you to keep their data safe, so be sure to work with vendors and security specialists to deliver the protection your customers need.



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