London, 26 April 2017 - A key revelation to some at the first European Managed Services and Hosting Summit in Amsterdam on 25th April was that, outside of the managed services industry, no-one is calling it that. With a strong focus on customers and how they engage with managed services, the event discussed how the model had become mainstream in the last year, and was now the assumed way of working for many industries.
Over 150 attendees from nineteen different European countries met to review the state of the market and the ways to take the industry forward. Bianca Granetto, Research Director at Gartner, set the scene with a keynote on how Digital Business redefines the Buyer-Seller relationship. In this she showed how customers are using more and more diverse IT suppliers, while still looking for a trust relationship with those suppliers, and that this process will continue in coming years. “The future managed services company will look very different from today’s,” she concluded.
This was reinforced by TOPdesk’s CEO Wolter Smit who, in a discussion on the new services model, said that MSPs were actually in the driving seat as the larger IT companies could not reach their level of specialization. Dave Sobel, SolarWinds MSP’s partner community director also pointed out that many of the existing IT services companies were decades old and, with management due for replacement, new thinking among the providers was inevitable.
The top trends affecting the market were outlined by several speakers, with IoT, user experience and smart machines within the list – and IoT will be profitable for suppliers, according to Dave Sobel, with the MSPs top of the list as beneficiaries.
IT Europa’s editor John Garratt highlighted the differences between the US and European managed services markets, with the US more focused on financial returns. Price was apparently less important to European customers, who were more focused on gaining control of their IT resources. Autotask’s Matthe Smit said that price indeed mattered less than a good supportive relationship. But, he said, less than half of providers actually measured customer satisfaction, and this would have to change.
If anyone was in any doubt of the impact of the new model, Robinder Koura, RingCentral’s European channel head, showed how cloud-based communications had pushed Avaya into bankruptcy, and the new force was cloud-based and more flexible.
Security was never going to be far from the discussions, and Datto’s Business Development Director Chris Tate shook up the meeting with some of the latest statistics on ransomware. MSPs are in the firing line in the event of an attack like this, and he gave some sound advice on responses and precautionary measures. Local MSP Xcellent Automatisering’s MD Mark Schoonderbeek also revealed how he launched new services using a four-layered security offering: “First we'll search for vendors through our existing partnerships. When we find a good product - we'll R&D it from a technical standpoint. If the product meets our quality standards we will roll out within our own production environment. Then we'll go to one of our best customers in a very early stage, we tell them it's a test-phase and we'll implement the service for free, but in return we want the customers feedback (what went well, what went not so well and what is the perceived value of the service that is offered). Then we'll make a cost calculation and ask the customer what the service is worth. We'll put a price on the product and deliver it fixed price. Next step is to sell the product to all existing customers.”
The impact of the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was starting, but there were many unknowns, not least how various regulators across Europe would react to the provisions, warned legal expert and partner at Fieldfisher, Renzo Marchini, while the opportunities and general strong confidence in the European IT market were illustrated by Peter van den Berg, European General Manager for the Global Technology Distribution Council (GTDC).
Finally, a well-received analysis of what was going on in the tech M&A sector showed attendees where to make their fortunes and how to do so quickly. Perhaps unsurprisingly the key to creating value within a company turns out to be generating highly repeatable revenues – which is what managed services is all about.
Many of the issues debated during the European Managed Services event will be further discussed at the UK Managed Services and Hosting Summit, which will be staged in London in September – www.mshsummit.com