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Sooraj Shah

Contributing Editor

Sooraj Shah is Contributing Editor of New Statesman Tech with a focus on C-level IT leader interviews. He is also a freelance technology journalist.

How managed service providers are dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic

Every sector and every type of business is encountering numerous challenges as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, and managed services providers (MSPs) are no different. NS Tech has spoken to three leaders from MSPs about the impact on their own staff, on their clients and on business in general.

Carl Henriksen, CEO of OryxAlign, explains that his service desk and service delivery teams are fully remote now, and are supporting clients as usual.

“We have the benefit of working on one platform across all users within the business so all applications, collaboration tools and voice platforms are cloud-based. As we typically invest heavily in technology, having a dispersed workforce has been relatively easy,” he says.

However, despite being able to work effectively, Henriksen is mindful about face-to-face time being integral to morale for employees.

“When you don’t have colleagues sitting next to you or across the table from you it can have an impact on you, so we’re maintaining communication as much as we can, having very regular video conferences with the teams. Ultimately I’m speaking to my team and employees directly as much as I possibly can just to maintain the mood,” he says.

Tricky transformations

As for clients, Insight Enterprises CEO Ken Lamneck says that as employees are working remotely, there is far more need from his company’s customers for user support.

“The number of calls for this has gone up substantially because even though some of the larger companies would still have people on site for certain positions, with this situation the majority of their workers are working from home and they have different capabilities to connect in from their homes,” he says.

Lamneck believes that the situation will alert businesses to how many of their business continuity plans are not robust enough.

“Unfortunately this isn’t the last we’re going to see these types of situations… so it’s actually a bit of a wake up call where companies are starting to see they’re probably under invested for this kind of scenario,” he says.

Meanwhile, OryxAlign is speaking to customers who have invested heavily in some form of transformation or in cloud migration projects.

“We’re having to plan a project and potentially deliver them quicker than before because of clients needs,” says Henriksen.

While the MSP can deliver the majority of this remotely, he believes that adjustments need to be made in order to deliver the project as seamlessly as possible.

“There’s nothing quite like being on site with the client – there will be challenges around project delivery,” he says.

For instance, the company moved a large client over to SharePoint and Office 365 last weekend, and because they couldn’t have a team of engineers on site with their clients they’re now having to deal with more user requests.

David Thomas, group managing director of Bluegrass Group, says that user requests have been doubling daily as a result of the pandemic – meaning it’s consuming a lot of resources for the MSP.

He believes that the strategy of those businesses will change after this situation is over, as they will have to enable a flexible workforce.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to go back to where we came from – and that in itself will generate work [for MSPs],” he says.

“We’re going to lose some clients”

Thomas believes that the situation could have a direct effect on the number of clients the business has.

“We are going to lose some businesses as clients – it’s difficult to gauge how many but this is a horrendous situation we’re in. Some businesses are going to go out of business and that will affect us,” he says.

But Bluegrass Group’s approach has been to help the community that it is in.

“We have a lot of knowledge about technology and how to work with it, so we’re reaching out to the whole community around the South West of the UK to give free advice. If a company is struggling and needs any assistance, we’re telling them to come and ask – and that includes IT companies as well,” Thomas says.

“MSPs can really help out with what’s going on at the moment by offering help and assistance rather than selling. The vast majority of businesses out there that are suffering just want help; they don’t want solutions rammed down their throats or one extra thing to their bottom line. They just need to be able to function. If we can reach out it will help business to survive,” he says.