How many MSPs have heard of SaaStr?  I am guessing not many. “ SaaStr Annual 2016” is an event for Software as a Service (SaaS) companies looking to gain knowledge and improve their businesses. Over 5,000 people from 48 countries descended upon San Francisco Feb 9th -11th to hear from industry experts, evaluate new vendors and network. An additional 1,500 people participated in the event online.

Despite the numbers, only a handful of SaaS companies –like itopia—focus on empowering the channel. Most sell directly to businesses. While many of these SaaS companies target mid-market and enterprise clients, there are a number of SaaS companies contemplating the opportunities that exist within the SMB market. Why does any of this matter to MSPs?

It matters because it’s another sign of the times—further evidence if you will—that MSPs need to focus on evolving their business models. The more SMB clients leverage SaaS, the less there is for MSPs to do in a traditional “recurring” outsourced IT model.

Some MSP industry experts suggest that there is still plenty for MSPs to do in the new cloud era. This includes consulting with clients on which public/private cloud to choose, or migrating data from on premises environments to cloud environments. But these constitute one time projects and are not the robust, recurring revenue streams that are the lifeblood of an MSP business.

MSPs have to do everything they can to control the 3rd-party applications their clients use today. One way this can be done is by leveraging a turnkey Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) platform such as itopia and nGenx. In situations where SMB clients have already gone to SaaS applications, MSPs need to start thinking about a general contractor approach, overseeing environments by leveraging different tools. Tools that allow MSPs to better manage public clouds including AWS, Azure, Google, and monitor application performance include LogicMonitor and Unigma.

Many SMBs want to take advantage of public clouds and SaaS benefits, but are not equipped to properly coordinate, monitor and manage all of the different resources required to run a seamless cloud computing environment comprised of multiple vendors. This is where the next-level recurring opportunities exist for MSPs. 

When you combine traditional end user support, ongoing consulting, public cloud and application performance management, service providers can grow recurring revenue streams well into the future. Despite this, MSPs are under threat, and not just from the 6,500 SaaStr attendees that poured into San Francisco recently. They are under threat from any SMB that believes it has the wherewithal to go IT alone. Most simply do not. But that’s not enough to stop some from trying.

What’s your plan to help end customers see their way clearly?

Jim Lippie is the Chief Advisor at Clarity Channel Advisors, a Quincy, Mass., business consultancy that helps MSPs, VARs and other channel companies transition to more profitable business models using a comprehensive cloud strategy and better Business Intelligence (BI). He can be reached at jimlippie@claritychannel.com.