MPS and Managed IT: extending MPS value into the IT infrastructure
The convergence of managed print services and broader IT services continues to loom large on the horizon as organisations strive to deliver a secure, integrated, flexible, and resilient technology environment for their hybrid workforce. MPS providers must ensure that they turn this into an opportunity to help customers broaden their digital transformation strategy, or risk seeing their client base eroded.
Quocirca’s Managed IT Services Study 2023 surveyed IT decision makers in the US and UK to gain insight into their perceptions and priorities for investment around print and IT infrastructure, alongside their views on managed IT services.
Cloud computing and cybersecurity are the top technology investment priorities in the coming year, with 65% of respondents opting for cloud and 62% for cybersecurity. AI/Machine learning is third on the list – reflecting both its current “hot topic” status and also the general trend towards integrating AI into tools and services. Interest in AI is higher in the US (65%) than in the UK (48%), however.
Notably, investment in printing and imaging infrastructure is the lowest on the list, with just 35% saying it is a priority.
In-house IT teams face challenges
When it comes to managing IT in-house, teams are stretched. The complexity of their IT infrastructure is the top challenge for organisations managing IT in-house, with 45% putting it in their top three concerns. In second place was security, risk and compliance (38%), followed by lack of in-house IT skills (35%).
These top three closely reflect the wider economic, regulatory, and workforce environment. Organisations are struggling to consolidate the adjustments made during and post-pandemic, while also addressing ongoing security and regulatory challenges and a challenging employment market.
Skills shortages are particularly impacting mid-market companies (43% say it is a top challenge), who are caught in the middle, needing considerable skills but lacking the budget to attract the employees who possess them.
Key drivers for outsourcing to MSPs
Given this set of challenges, it is not surprising that the IT services sector is buoyant. There is clear overlap between the areas identified for investment and the primary drivers for engaging MSPs.
Currently, 51% use or plan to use an MSP for cybersecurity, and 48% use or plan to use one for cloud services, though this is much more popular in the US (61%), than the UK (34%). Data security is the third most popular use case (47%), although this rises to 52% and second position in the UK, where the GDPR has now reached its fifth anniversary and companies are seeking to outsource data security in a rigorous regulatory environment.
Print and IT infrastructure consolidation
Just 22% of respondents currently use an IT managed service provider to handle their print infrastructure. However, 68% would consider using a single provider offering managed IT and managed print services in future. This masks a split between US and UK, however. In the US 76% are prepared to entertain a single supplier, in the UK it is only 60%, and this figure has dropped from last year’s UK-only study, when 86% were willing to use a single provider.
Interestingly, there are similar levels of confidence around an MPS provider delivering managed IT (41% extremely confident) as there are around a managed IT provider delivering MPS (45% extremely confident). This shows the opportunity for MPS providers. Although there is slightly lower confidence in an MPS provider offering IT management services, the overall difference is narrow. Therefore, embracing the opportunity now makes sense for MPS providers.
Barriers to consolidation remain
In terms of what is holding ITDMs back from adopting a single provider, there are variations between the UK and the US. By far the largest barrier for US organisations is the perception that MPS and Managed IT Services require different stakeholders in their business, with almost half (49%) saying this is a barrier, compared to just 27% in the UK.
UK organisations are most concerned with cost and pricing, perhaps appreciating the transparency of having separate providers.
Other barriers cited include challenges with technical support and maintenance and lack of expertise in IT infrastructure management. US respondents were far more concerned than those in the UK about the fact that MPS and Managed IT Services have different implementation cycles (35% compared with 20% of UK respondents).
Partnering for transformation
Print-centric resellers recognise that they do not have the resources to learn every technology they might support when expanding to become a managed IT services provider. Many have improved technical know-how and enhanced their customer offering through acquisition, while others have invested in new hires, bringing in expertise to help them succeed. However, in light of the IT skills shortage, it is likely that partnering with MSPs, which are skilled at managing complex technology infrastructure, could be the way forward if they are to capture new opportunities.
Although becoming a white-label service provider to MSPs may not seem attractive to existing MPS providers, this approach removes the pressure and cost to build up skills in areas where MSPs are already skilled. It also frees up resources to focus on bringing additional value to customers’ print environments and integrating this within a broader managed IT services offering. Through collaboration, MPS providers can improve their value propositions and competitive advantage.
As the IT landscape grows more complex, MPS providers need to embrace IT partnerships to innovate and grow their business. The two worlds can coexist for mutual benefit – and for MPS providers, forging new alliances with MSPs skilled in security, cloud and analytics will be key to future success. There has never been a better time to innovate and develop a new wave of managed services, extending legacy contracts to include collaboration, cloud, infrastructure, security and digital transformation tools as-a-service, packaged to address the needs of the hybrid workplace.
Find out more in Quocirca’s Managed IT and MPS Convergence Report
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