In this article, we discuss 5 ways of, how managed service providers (MSPs) can support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in times of economic crisis. Despite the entire Netherlands suffering from high inflation and challenging economic conditions, there are still plenty of opportunities for the Dutch IT sector. In particular, there are opportunities for MSPs to help their existing SME customers through the crisis and increase customer loyalty. Read on and discover 5 opportunities that MSPs should seize now to protect SME customers from vulnerabilities due to the economic crisis.
What are MSPs and why are they essential for SMBs?
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are specialized IT service providers. An MSP manages the IT systems the client has in the office, as well as those hosted in an external data center or in the cloud. An MSP employs specialized staff who can take the day-to-day IT management completely out of your hands.
Diederik Wennekes is managing director of Trans-iX – One of the fastest growing MSPs in the Netherlands. He adds, “MSPs like Trans-iX help Dutch SME customers reduce costs and increase efficiency through the optimal deployment of IT resources. With full management and maintenance of IT, our SME customers can fully focus on running their business without having to worry about IT.”
What are the challenges faced by SMEs in these economically turbulent times?
The current economic crisis is characterized by very high inflation. This makes it very difficult for many SMEs to cost-effectively produce goods and/or provide services.
In addition, SMEs are also facing global shortages of, for example, machinery, equipment and parts. Long delivery times put pressure on the production process and also create tension in the relationship with the end customer. We are also currently seeing high personnel shortages in the SME sector and wages have risen sharply following the end of lockdowns.
Why is the future of MSPs also at stake?
Many SMEs have already invested heavily in IT systems and online capabilities for their business during the recent lockdowns. But with the current crisis and increased prices, there is a high risk of new vulnerabilities there. SMEs are at high risk due to overdue IT maintenance and patching of software as well as the ever-increasing cybercrime. Due to very high costs throughout the business process, there is less investment in IT systems. This leads to IT maintenance backlogs and delayed software patching which creates all kinds of security risks.
MSPs now have an obligation to help fellow entrepreneurs
Managed Service Providers, who benefited from the huge wave of new customers during the previous lockdown crisis, must therefore act now to protect SMEs. MSPs themselves need to take the initiative and responsibility to help their SME customers through the new crisis.
If MSPs do not act now, they risk losing these customers in the long run.
5 opportunities for MSPs to help SMEs now during the economic crisis
How can MSPs help SMEs in the Netherlands now during the economic crisis? MSPs play a key role in the management and maintenance of IT systems of Dutch SMEs. In fact, the challenges that SMEs face now are great opportunities for MSPs to strengthen existing customer relationships.
Are MSPs seizing these opportunities and helping their SME customers during the crisis? If so, this is an excellent time for them to prepare now for success and long-term growth. Attention to the following 5 topics is important for this purpose.
1. Increase IT systems security
MSPs can help SMEs secure their IT systems. In addition, MSPs should proactively scan and audit existing systems for potential security risks.
If MSPs do not do this, there is a real chance that many SMBs will not survive the increasing cyber threats.
The impact of a cyber-attack can be significant for SMBs. Especially if the consequences of a cyber-attack seriously disrupt the production process. After all, there is no extra margin left for further disruptive factors besides labor market tightness, industry shortages and increased prices.
We recommend that MSPs make an additional (free) security scan available to SMEs to support them in addressing vulnerabilities in their IT systems. Thus, MSPs can now play an important role in protecting SMEs from cyber threats in this challenging economic period.
2. Automation of IT processes.
MSPs can help SMEs by fully automating their key IT tasks and processes. This allows SMEs to fully concentrate on their core tasks and business. But with the assurance that IT automatically supports business processes and IT is in trusted hands with an expert.
For example, MSPs could temporarily take on some of the costs for an automated security platform. This keeps SMBs automatically protected from security threats and does not put further pressure on their tight budgets. Furthermore, MSPs can work with SMBs to see if other processes can also be further automated.
MSPs can thus make positive contributions, saving SMEs costs and still allowing them to remain competitive.
3. Temporary sponsored pricing and flexible terms
MSPs can also help their SME customers financially by offering certain cloud services at temporarily lower rates. After all, cloud-based infrastructure helps SMEs flexibly scale up and down IT infrastructure during unpredictable economic times. MSPs can also consider offering more flexibility within current agreements and payment terms.
Ultimately, the relationship between SMBs and MSPs is one of mutual interest and dependence.
By helping each other now and investing in the relationship, an MSP can count on even more customer loyalty after the crisis ends. This is therefore a great time and excellent opportunity for MSPs to sell additional services to both new and existing clients.
SMEs have already learned about and recognize the added value of these advanced IT services. This makes it easier to increase revenue from existing SME customers once the crisis is over.
4. Delivering added value with IT systems
Each SME customer is unique and so has its specific needs, for which MSPs can deploy smart IT systems to respond. For example, MSPs can offer value-added services on top of the existing services they already provide. Consider additional services for security, secure password storage and smart software to help customers faster and sell more.
5. Dedicated IT service desks for SMB customers.
An MSP can give its SME customers access to a dedicated SME service desk. This service desk can respond quickly to SME customers’ questions. By making the service desk available free of charge and integrating it with existing systems, customers are helped faster. In addition, a service desk can also advise on how to solve certain problems, or make better use of IT systems.
The further automation of IT processes offers many advantages for Dutch SMEs. Thanks to automation, fewer errors occur and problems in IT systems are detected and solved faster.
High inflation and large labor market shortages are true obstacles for SMEs to further invest in both new and existing IT systems. But it is mainly these new IT systems that MSPs could deploy to help SMEs reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Therefore, MSPs should view the current economic crisis as a long-term investment in their customer relationships. MSPs can help SMEs avoid problems in cyber-attacks by temporarily sponsoring automated security solutions.
The current economic crisis offers MSPs opportunities to strengthen their position as a reliable ICT partner within SMEs. With customer-specific advice, temporary favorable rates and flexible conditions, MSPs can help their SME customers through the crisis.
An investment in SMEs that MSPs can make now is an investment that can be recouped exponentially in the future. Investments that will be the foundation for further growth and opportunities for MSPs and strengthen their relationship with SMEs by supporting them through times of crisis.