Given the growing dominance of e-commerce, it’s time that VARs and MSPs rethink their strategy and look at these top tech trends, according to Rachel Rothwell, regional director Southern Europe and UK at Zyxel.
The technology industry is continually evolving and there are no signs of stopping any time soon. In today’s highly competitive world, value added resellers (VARs) and managed service providers (MSPs) face unique challenges with increasingly high expectations from both businesses and customers.
To outperform the competition, VARs and MSPs are constantly evaluating business models and offerings that will improve profitability and help unlock efficiencies. Yet, there are new emerging technologies that could enable further differentiation and value-added offerings, that resellers simply aren't making the most of. For example, as demand for and reliance on hardware and software is growing, resellers need to find new ways to diversify their value propositions and service offerings as this will help to increase the value delivered to new and existing customers. However, more and more people are turning to the internet for products and services as it gives them easier access and is considered a much cheaper option in comparison.
E-commerce has transformed buying behaviours, and this has influenced businesses to start thinking about how they select, purchase and deploy new technology within their organisations. Entire company cultures and structures have changed, and businesses are now buying services and products online, which provides both ease and convenience. Yet, resellers are able to provide an additional service which e-commerce is unable to offer. It’s important that VARs acknowledge the current developments in the e-commerce industry and perhaps change the type of services that they provide to their customers so that they can be more successful in the face of e-commerce. For example, resellers must tie in value-adding services to new products which are now more easily accessible to buyers.
What trends should resellers look out for?
VARs and MSPs would previously integrate a variety of products (hardware and software) from multiple manufacturers to offer customised solutions to customers. However, site visits, scheduled downtime and troubleshooting can cause headaches for resellers and customers alike. Moving away from the traditional business model, the advanced reseller gradually shifts focus as businesses are undergoing their own digital transformation.
As the adoption rate of infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS) is increasing, businesses are moving away from on-premise solutions to on-demand, and resellers can easily tap into this trend. For customers, these models are a cost-effective alternative to the traditional deployment where they have to buy their own IT infrastructure, install the software, configure the applications and then employ an IT department or appoint an MSP to maintain it all. These days, subscription over ownership is taking precedence and resellers can benefit from this change.
We live in an increasingly interconnected world with an increasing number of devices linked to the internet via wireless networks, often described as the Internet of Things (IoT). In fact 85% of companies are expected to embed IoT in their solutions to drive efficiencies and personalise experiences. For many companies the challenge is that the influx of new devices in their workplaces is constantly growing, and all of which will require management. This is where MSPs can respond by expanding their current service offering in order to capitalise on the increased demand.
One of the current trends at the moment is Wi-Fi 6, a new technology which will help to improve the overall experience for almost all wireless users, promising to dramatically enhance and improve performance for many businesses. Wi-Fi 6 will be particularly beneficial in cases when there are more connected devices and there is a need for greater bandwidth. It’s important for VARs and MSPs to stay informed about new trends and technologies to guide clients through these changes.
Blockchain technology is a relatively new and growing concept. VARs who can add blockchain support to existing or planned ecosystems will benefit in the long-run, since they were designed for storing transactional data. Although most resellers are not currently working with blockchain, managed service providers are recognising the importance that blockchain as another tool can offer to both VARs and MSPs, helping to handle payments, manage contracts and to store data.
SD-WAN, or software-defined WAN, is also a new approach to network connectivity, often integrating in a multi-cloud strategy helping to improve connectivity and boosting security in the multi-cloud. Previously, MSPs would dispatch router specialists to each remote location. SD-WAN is seeing high adoption rates in branch environments, it is also becoming more commonly used for SaaS applications, backup requirements, and voice and video business communications.
MSPs are also noticing the benefit of using AI, especially when it comes to chatbots, which are an incredible way for MSPs to help reduce labour costs, improve speed and increase satisfaction amongst their customers.
Finally, with the current rate of digital transformation accelerating, more and more businesses are employing an MSP to help transition their business to the cloud. The adoption of a cloud-based network can help businesses centralise resources to manage IT services, increase efficiency whilst also reducing costs. This is a great opportunity for MSPs because there are an increasing number of businesses moving to the cloud, yet there are many applications that businesses can’t migrate to the cloud. For MSPs, it is vital that they provide a service which offers customised experience.
The future of VARs and MSPs
Emerging trends will fundamentally impact how businesses and their employees perform and communicate. For many resellers and their clients, it’s not easy to transition themselves in today’s society where technology is constantly changing. As a result, businesses are looking for resellers who are pro-active, providing services that meet everyone’s needs. Put simply, people now prefer the choice, ease and creativity which technology offers and new approaches to network management can help to deliver on these demands.
Implementing a cloud-based network management gives administrators flexibility, scalability and remote support which helps to reduce network related downtime. By implementing a cloud management solution, this provides network data analytics to inform client recommendations and enables security updates from the cloud without the need for on-site IT networking expertise.
Change is inevitable, yet this is an opportunity for VARs and MSPs to take advantage of emerging technologies and to expand their role as a trusted adviser. By growing their expertise and offering managed services, cloud services, system integration, IT consulting and advice, resellers can help to generate profit and to build a relationship with their clients.