Niche for Managed Service Providers: Remote-First Businesses

COVID-19 forced many businesses to implement options to work remotely — online meetings, collaboration platforms, and file cloud storage. Since then, many companies have supported fully remote or hybrid work — allowing employees to work remotely with occasional visits to the office or team meetings.

MSPs were crucial in supporting remote work, taking the workload of managing remote offices and supporting the rapid adoption of cloud-based collaboration services, and the expertise of supporting remote workers became crucial for many MSPs.

Now, many MSPs are focused on helping companies transition back to “office live,” with many businesses requiring employees to be on-site. However, at the same time, there is a new niche for MSPs — remote-first businesses. Businesses built around the concept of remote work hire employees worldwide without the expectation of getting them to work from a single location. Those businesses start by implementing cloud-based collaboration tools, building the workflows from remote collaboration, and not trying to move existing workflows to the Cloud. The emergence of those businesses creates an opportunity for MSPs to manage their delocalized infrastructure and collaboration tools.

8 Mandatory Competencies for Remote-first MSP

MSPs willing to position themselves as experts for remote-first businesses and become leaders in the market require a specific set of skills and expertise.

1. Strategic planning. It starts with planning the infrastructure architecture to satisfy the customer’s needs while providing high-cost efficiency. Hyperscalers offer much flexibility, yet unwise planning may lead to remarkably high costs. All customers want to get guidance from their MSPs on the most efficient and economical way to implement IT for their business. Remote-first businesses tend to be even more frugal and have higher expectations for cost efficiency.

2. Cloud infrastructure and services. Expertise in Azure, Amazon, and Google Cloud and collaboration suits like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace are essential, as they are the backbone of remote-first businesses.

3. Cybersecurity. Containing cyber threats inside a corporate network is easier than with cloud-based services available 24/7 worldwide. Cloud security expertise may be used as an advantage when pitching potential remote-first customers.

4. Data protection and disaster recovery. Cloud-based infrastructure is also prone to disasters — data center outages and malicious or accidental data deletion.

5. Endpoint management. While almost everything is in the Cloud, users still have their devices and local network infrastructure that requires management and security.

6. Compliance. Distributed businesses operate in multiple jurisdictions and require specialized knowledge of privacy, data storage, and retention from the MSP.

7. Automated Helpdesk and self-service. Remote-first businesses usually demand 24/7 availability and fast reaction, and the usual helpdesk system should be augmented by automation to be able to handle ticket volume spikes within SLAs. Offering self-service tools, like the ability to recover accidentally deleted emails or files, and AI-based chat-bots for quick diagnostic and triage of the issues in a language preferred by the user, may significantly improve the experience and reduce the support cost.

8. User training. Systems are as good as the people that use them. As a Microsoft Teams user with previous Slack experience, I can testify that the approach proposed by the vendor and the way users got used to their tools may be very different and require continuous training.

Having the expertise differentiates an MSP targeting remote-first businesses and makes it easier to win the business. Maybe it is a niche for you to consider if you already have the required talent and the expertise.

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