by Jason Howells, Director EMEA, Barracuda MSP
With new European data regulation being established this year and companies buying each other up left, right and centre, it surely came as no surprise to anyone that cybersecurity and industry consolidation continued to be hot topics for the EMEA IT channel in 2018.
While it’s not a very controversial prediction, I really do not expect this to change in the next year or so. But what does bring potential is the way channel partners adapt to and address these challenges. That could make all the difference.
In the coming year, the channel will need to identify new ways to work smarter and faster to meet the needs of their customers, along with the demands of what is becoming a very dynamic and crowded marketplace.
While no one knows exactly how trends will manifest themselves, here are four predictions for MSPs in 2019:
With nearly three quarters (74%) of attacks entering via email, email security will continue to be king.
On top of this, email attacks are increasing, according to nearly three quarters of EMEA IT professionals (73%) in our own research from earlier this year.
Specifically, we’re observing that attacks targeting the individual are on the increase – such as phishing, spear phishing, and business email compromise. A growing number of hackers are turning to these social engineering techniques to increase their success.
One example of this is account-based takeover. Typically resulting from a successful phishing attempt, an account takeover attack happens when a user shares their credentials, giving the hacker access to their email account.
Phishing attacks also aren’t just confined to email anymore, we are seeing them penetrate into voice and text communications.
Cybersecurity education is the key to a bulletproof security posture.
We all know that the human risk, especially when it comes to email security, can be a significant liability. When it comes to minimising this, the vast majority (89%) of EMEA IT security experts believe that end-user training and awareness programmes are important.
However, a sizeable number (35%) still don’t train their employees on how to spot phishing and spear-phishing. That sounds like a huge opportunity for channel partners to me.
Over the next year, MSPs and solution providers will need to help organisations to close this gap, and identify ways to better educate customers on these types of exploits. Solutions that provide security awareness training and phishing simulation, for example, can really help users learn how to identify these attacks.
Differentiation will happen through vertical focus.
According to our friends at CompTIA, 72% of channel companies reported customer demand as their primary reason for offering emerging technologies. 62% also said that customer demand is driving vertical industry specialisation.
The specialisation in a niche vertical such as healthcare, retail, legal services, government, or education, will be a great way for MSPs to differentiate themselves from the masses in the next 12 months.
It’s value and not price that will lead to greater MSP success.
One of MSPs’ most common challenges is convincing SMB customers and prospects to stop dragging their feet and move beyond break-fix services to a managed service offering.
To overcome these objections, focus on value not price. All SMBs want to spend as little as possible on their IT services. However, this leaves them open to security vulnerabilities — which due to hefty fines can end up being more expensive than hiring an MSP in the first place.
Over the next year in particular, it will be make-or-break for MSPs to position their managed services as an investment, and not simply a cost.
MSPs should educate their customers on why they can’t afford the negative consequences that come with not investing in the services.
There will always be customers who are sceptical, but by leveraging the value afforded by the services to overcome objections, MSPs will be well on their way to success.
Using my crystal ball, I can clearly visualise the next few months as a very exciting time to be in and around the IT channel. If I look closer, there seems to be a lot of great promise for MSPs and service providers…. Although a warning too: the best rewards will be for those who take note of and, more importantly, act on these emerging trends.