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What does 2019 hold for Managed Service Providers? Here’s what Highlight thinks…

With 2019 rapidly approaching, service providers are under more pressure than ever as customer expectations continue to rise. Service providers must go above and beyond to exceed these expectations and fulfill promises that have been made. Conventional contracts and SLAs alone are no longer sufficient and will not provide the assurance that customers require to operate their businesses smoothly and hassle-free.

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Where many service providers are falling short is in their lack of service differentiation and corporate transparency. If a provider continues to operate in this way with their customers, they will be heading towards an undesirable business outcome in 2019 where they struggle or fail to meet and exceed revenue as well as customer experience performance targets.

While large service providers have begun and will continue to acquire software companies with technologies that enable holistic integration provisioning and support systems, underpinning and automating service and account management activities, it’s the smaller, newer players that will have to employ technology to ensure they can survive and thrive.

The emergence of cloud services and solutions is expected to continue its exponential increase as more businesses outsource IT needs in order to streamline and create cost efficiencies. Corporates will face the challenge of selecting the best technologies from thousands of SaaS, IaaS and PaaS vendors. 2019 will be an even tougher competitive landscape for service providers considering the saturation of the market. Small and medium service providers will have to “box clever” to win, retain and grow their business based on excellent technology and superior customer relationships.

Many providers will look to develop in-house applications to bring the differentiation they so desperately need. Others will proactively partner with technologies that enable them to offer superior customer experience whilst employing the least number of staff to achieve sustainable competitive advantage.

Whichever path these service providers decide upon, it will be critical to ensure that the decision makers of their customers’ businesses are at the forefront of their technology choices. Service providers will need to collaborate and communicate with their customers effectively in order to determine which services are essential to their customers and why.

In 2019, the winners will be the service providers who use their business intelligence (knowledge management) to deliver the right solutions at the right time, ensuring that business challenges are solved while maintaining necessary security measures to protect sensitive data.

Transparency at every level will be the priority, whether it’s network and application performance levels, financial reporting or account communication between service provider and customer. Service providers who are open and transparent with performance data will empower corporate decision makers to better analyse and craft informed strategies (data-driven decisions) to fulfill their business needs. This will drive revenue and cost lines to achieve improve company value.

We predict that 2019 will be yet another year of significant turbulence for MSPs small, medium and large. It will be down to prioritisation of transparency and collaboration through the best technology that will enable an MSP to thrive in a tough market.