In the managed services industry, there’s no shortage of support. Whether online or in person, there are countless ways to connect with other MSPs, share stories, and provide tips and tricks to help you build your business—and overcome MSP struggles.

And while MSPs are willing to share industry trends they’re taking advantage of, they’re not always willing to talk about the ones they’re losing sleep over.

We’ve gathered eight industry trends—as told by anonymous surveys—that today’s MSPs are struggling with (and you might be too):

  1. Generalist managed service offerings increasingly don’t cut it
  2. A lot of tech advancements are specific to certain industries. Today, a hospital, a restaurant, and a college are all going to have very different network demands, requirements, and challenges for an MSP to manage. As 56% of MSPs specialize their services for a particular industry, generalist MSPs will find it harder to compete.

  3. MSPs are stuck in reactive mode
  4. Instead of proactively preventing fires, one in three MSPs say they’re stuck in a constant cycle of putting them out. In fact, Carolyn April, senior director of industry analysis at CompTIA, says some MSPs are operating without even a PSA or an RMM. This makes it nearly impossible for those MSPs to move beyond a break-fix approach.

  5. IoT is booming—and it’s becoming hard to manage
  6. In 2020, Intel projects that 200 billion IoT devices will be added to our networks—that’s a 1,223% increase since 2015. And if the sheer number of devices wasn’t challenging enough, many IoT devices are added to networks without notice, causing unexpected performance issues that many MSPs aren’t prepared to handle.

  7. Technicians are managing more devices than ever…
  8. In 2014, Computer Economics reported the median number of devices managed by each network engineer was 37. In 2015, that number jumped to 59. While the ratio hasn’t been formally updated since then (we’re counting on you, Computer Economics nudge nudge), we can infer that the ratio has likely gone up a lot. After all, the average number of connected devices per user has climbed from two in 2015 to eight in 2019. Managing that many devices is a big task in an industry famous for burnout.

  9. … and those devices are highly diverse
  10. More than 70% of MSPs are managing four or more network vendors across their client networks, while some are managing upwards of 20. That requires hiring (and retaining) techs who understand different operating systems and different languages in an industry experiencing a serious skills shortage.

  11. Operations are getting more complex
  12. CompTIA reports that almost half of MSPs feel their operational requirements are getting more complicated. This is thanks to more data to analyze, new technologies to manage, and more challenging conversations with clients who want more of a say into IT operations and spending.

  13. Clients aren’t confident in their disaster recovery plans
  14. In fact, less than half of UK companies have full confidence their data is completely backed up, and only 35% have confidence in their ability to carry out a disaster recovery plan. And unless you’re automatically backing up their data in real-time, they’ve likely got reason to worry.

  15. Everyone’s struggling to keep up with today’s security threats
  16. Modular malware, lateral phishing, and data breaches are all rising, and 66% of companies say they lack the cybersecurity pros they need to keep up. After 22 local governments experienced ransomware attacks linked back to an MSP, limited security resources could put other MSPs in the hot seat with their clients as well.

So what now? How can you overcome these MSP struggles

If any of these sound familiar and you’re wondering what you’re supposed to do next, don’t worry. Here are four suggestions to help you overcome your struggles:

  1. Find peer groups or events in your area
  2. Professional groups like CompTIA and ASCII Group host in-person peer groups and events where you can have closed-door conversations with other MSPs and ask any questions you have.

  3. Participate in online discussion groups
  4. If there are no peer groups or events in your area, check out some of the many online groups you can join. If you’re not comfortable with asking tough questions with your name attached on Facebook or LinkedIn, popular anonymous subreddits like r/msp and r/sysadmin are an option.

  5. Tap your vendors to see what learning resources they have available
  6. Your hardware and software vendors want you to succeed, and they’ll often have resources and certifications to help you use their products to their full potential while boosting your productivity and efficiency.

  7. Check out other industry resources too
  8. Industry leaders like TruMethods have tons of free resources focused on helping you build your business through sales and marketing. Auvik’s Frankly MSP podcast is also a great resource. With new episodes every two weeks, you can get free insights and advice from industry experts who have been there and done that.