It’s time for MSPs to start working for customers, not just with them

Mahesh Desai, Chief Relationship Officer, Rackspace Technology, explains why it’s time for managed service partners to start working for customers and not just with them.

As businesses have been forced to embrace remote and now increasingly hybrid working approaches, more have begun to realise the benefits these can offer when it comes to enabling more decentralised workforces, which can help to overcome internal skills gaps. As such, there is an increasing demand from organisations for more distributed, on-demand and specialised talent.

This is especially true in light of the fact that more businesses are embracing a cloud native approach, meaning their teams are increasingly transforming towards DevOps-focused operating models. With DevOps approaches, the boundaries between infrastructure and applications, and “build” and “operate”, have become a little blurry. At the same time, large monolithic outsourcing contracts are unable to provide the flexibility required for modern cloud adoption, leading to stagnation and inefficient use of cloud technologies.

In response to these trends, organisations are coming to realise they need more customised engineering and operations capabilities from their partners.

When vacancies outweigh talent

Not only is technology itself becoming more sophisticated, but businesses have quickly evolved in their digital transformation journeys over the past year – particularly when it comes to cloud. In fact, there is now an abundance of research to show that digital transformation journeys that would previously have been expected to take a number of years have been completed in a matter of months.

But many of these technologies were implemented in urgency and under pressurised conditions, when businesses had little time to think of anything other than how they’d keep the company afloat remotely. So, as organisations’ use of these emerging technologies becomes more complex, and more specialised knowledge is required to help implement and run them, it is becoming increasingly difficult for internal IT teams to keep up.

On top of this, many businesses were forced to scale back resources as a result of the pandemic. Thanks to renewed optimism around the immediate future and with a clearer roadmap to normality set out by the UK government, most are now beginning to scale back up and are setting out on huge hiring sprees. But this has left UK vacancies at an all-time high, and experts suggest businesses could be facing skills shortages for many years to come.

As such, UK organisations have been left with smaller teams than they are used to across the entire company, including IT. While these smaller, internal IT teams possess a broad knowledge of the technology space, they do often lack the specialist expertise that is required to enable a cloud native approach.

Although it is harder than ever to find the talent required to fulfil these business needs – especially at short notice – businesses can simply not afford to wait.

Leaning on third parties for support isn’t enough

Having the opportunity to be flexible and agile is the way forward in terms of how we all work is going to evolve, and businesses are already learning to embrace their new-found flexibility by implementing variations of the hybrid working approach. But being flexible involves more than just implementing new policies and perks for in-house staff, it’s also about embracing the notion of building out internal teams with third party support.

Businesses need to learn and realise that customers gain the most from cloud technologies when workloads, teams, and processes are transformed to a more cloud native and agile operating model. And working with a third party to reach cloud nativity is going to be vital for businesses going forward.

However, simply working with a third party alone isn’t necessarily enough any longer because traditional managed services can struggle to deliver on customer goals in these environments. This is largely due to an inherent lack of flexibility within agreed scopes of work and contract structures.

That’s why it’s time for managed service providers to start working for their customers – not just with them. This means offering flexible, on-demand and dedicated support as and when their customers need it throughout their cloud journeys

The future of work is on-demand and flexible

These dedicated customer teams that managed service providers should be creating will become entirely familiar with their partners’ and customer’ businesses so that they are able to simply work as an extension of the internal team, instead of an external third party with a lack of detailed knowledge about the project.

In doing so, they will be able to help deliver transformative, best-practice-led engineering and operations services. Meanwhile, businesses don’t have to worry about lengthy and expensive recruitment drives for specialist skills that can ultimately put their cloud journeys on hold.

So, while hybrid working is a great place to start, post-pandemic flexibility is about so much more than that. It’s about a total mindset shift and casting the net for talent much wider than existing and prospective internal talent. The war for talent is bigger than ever, and it’s time for businesses to start embracing external, third-party support. In doing so, MSPs also have a big transformation on their hands to become partners that can act as a true extension of their customers’ business and their internal teams.