Three trends are fundamentally altering the SMB computing landscape: mobility, consumerization, and bring your own device. Here's how MSPs can turn those shifts into business opportunities.
Three trends are fundamentally altering the SMB computing landscape: mobility, consumerisation, and bring your own device (BYOD). MSPs, solution providers, and VARs need to stay one step ahead client requirements and develop competencies and services that address the most pressing needs of SMBs for employee productivity, security, and business continuity.
Mobility in the work place is booming. Moreover, the lines between workplace IT and the consumer world are becoming blurred. Employee use of iPhones, iPads, and Android devices in all shapes and sizes has altered the traditional dividing line between work and play, with increasing numbers of employees using their mobile devices to not just read email, but to create work content and access critical corporate systems.
Most organizations, whether reluctantly or not, have bowed to these trends and now actively endorse users bringing personally procured devices – smartphones, tablets, and even laptops – to the workplace. This BYOD trend requires a host of mobile device management and security procedures that were un-needed in more structured work and play world.
MSPs, solution providers, and VARs can maximize the mobility opportunity with the following approaches:
1. Develop an Apple iOS competency
Most partner organizations have traditionally been Windows-centric. The massive adoption of iOS devices in the past five years means however that Apple devices will be central to B2B computing for years to come. While Apple has traditionally gotten mixed reviews in the IT channel, there are excellent opportunities for partners to master the deployment, management, and help desk services around Apple branded devices, whether Macs, iPhones, or iPads. Seeking certification through the Apple Consultants Network is a great place to start.
2. Implement mobile device management (MDM)
The MDM space has matured a great deal over the past three years. MSPs have a range of vendor choices, from traditional RMM players moving into the space to more enterprise focused solutions. Whatever product is selected, it seems the business model remains one of the greatest challenges. Clients have a lot of latent and unknown pain without an MDM solution in place. Data leaks, compliance violations, IP theft, and other risks occur every day, while many IT departments and CIOs simply look the other way. MSPs that have strong security practices or vertical focus are best positioned to add MDM services to their portfolios.
3. Introduce business-class cloud file sync services
The big criticism of the MDM market has been the lack of demand in the mid-enterprise and SMB space. When engaging clients, too many decision makers simply don’t perceive the real security and control risks that exist; moreover, rank and file users may be generally satisfied with their current unmanaged and insecure use of mobile devices in the workplace.
A simpler approach is to focus on one killer app. This is where business-class file sync comes in. While most organizations are comfortable with corporate data syncing to places other than a single corporate PC, they are not comfortable doing so in a wild and uncontrolled manner. Businesses of all sizes want fine grained syncing policies (for instance, yes, sync to your iPhone, but no, not to your home PC); file access and file change audit trails; and remote wipe capabilities for when devices are lost or employees depart.
MSPs can beef up their core managed service offerings by adding business-class file sync as a standard feature or they can address this big need with a standalone managed service offering, focusing on expert deployment, security policies, adds/moves/changes, and ongoing help desk support.
Ted Hulsy is VP of Marketing at eFolder, a cloud-based file sharing company.