Businesses spent $4.5 trillion worldwide on IT in 2017—and according to CompTIA, that’s going to rise to $4.8 trillion in 2018, as the industry is forecasted to grow 5%.

But what does that mean for MSPs?

On one hand, technology is being more widely adopted by businesses which bodes well for service providers. However, there will also be challenges in bringing more and new technology into the mainstream. As CompTIA reports in its 2018 Industry Outlook:

“A scan of the 2018 horizon reveals a year that appears to be on the cusp of profound change. And yet, the closer a major leap forward seems, the more one is reminded of the last-mile challenges associated with next generation innovation.”

It’s clear the managed services industry is maturing and evolving. Emerging technologies are more accessible, businesses are increasingly being led by executives who understand tech, cloud adoption is rising—and the list of changes goes on.

Here are three key insights you should consider from the CompTIA industry report to prepare your MSP for the year ahead.

  1. AI will be the biggest driver of MSP change
  2. Of all emerging technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) is most likely to change to the IT ecosystem. CompTIA says tech solutions are becoming increasingly complex for businesses, because as technological literacy rises, demands for IT tools become more specific.

    So, as more and more businesses request AI, service providers will have to respond and evolve. Significant computer power is needed to support AI, which means the cloud is a better host than servers. And, by adding an additional layer of intelligence, MSPs will need to be able to both support a more complex infrastructure and solve new problems.

  3. Revenue generation isn’t enough
  4. CompTIA says generating revenue isn’t enough for a service provider business to survive in the current ecosystem, especially if they’re undergoing business transformation. To optimize revenue and successfully evolve, MSPs must be operating at maximum efficiency.

    Achieving this, CompTIA says, “includes fine-tuning the business across a range of areas, from sales, marketing and finance to human resources and supply chain logistics… The key to operational efficiency requires an unflinching examination of how well—or not—operations run today, especially before taking the plunge into a new business model.”

    More than half of surveyed businesses said two vital best practices to reach maximum efficiency include:

    • Calculating ROI/time to profitability before launching a new project, and
    • Using repeatable processes throughout the company.

    For example, your MSP can boost its efficiency by automating network management—you’ll have more time to focus on value-added activities rather than time-intensive manual network tasks.

  5. There’s not enough tech talent
  6. Demand for tech talent will continue to exceed supply in 2018, CompTIA says. The report indicates nearly four in 10 U.S. IT companies have job openings they’re recruiting for in IT.

    Emerging technologies like the Internet of Things and AI are driving the need for IT pros, as are business areas like software development and data. Brand new roles are being created in the IT space to match the changes affecting the industry—such as titles like AI developer, blockchain developer, machine learning trainer, and cybersecurity architect.

    Compounding the issue, recruiting for hard-to-fill skills means employers may have to post multiple listings in several markets. There’s no doubt that finding, recruiting, and retaining great talent will continue be a major challenge for MSPs in 2018 and beyond.

For more insights, including assessments of IoT, cybersecurity, and subscription pricing, see the full CompTIA IT Industry Outlook 2018 report.