They say that hindsight is 20/20 — and looking back, 2020 did indeed push us to grow, learn, adapt, and improve. Last year, we saw a mass transition to remote work, new and heightened security risks, further accelerated shifts to the cloud, and many more big moments. Let’s take a look at some of the top channel trends that these Pax8 experts saw in 2020 and how they predict those trends will continue to take shape in 2021.

 

Cloud Transformation

 

 

There are many highlights for our company this year from both an operational and technological perspective. Using the Microsoft Teams platform, our company was able to ensure a smooth transition to a fully remote work environment. At Pax8, we’ve been living and breathing this concept of “Enforced Cloud Transformation” for quite some time, so we immediately realized the best way to continue our Wingman mission was by helping our partners create a flexible remote work environment for their clients in the shortest possible time.

 

Many of our MSP partners had to step out of their comfort zone and start looking into the  adoption of a full spectrum of cloud solutions, and in this manner, they were not only able to save most of their customers but also position themselves for future growth. They are very grateful to have implemented solutions that have enterprise-grade security and are still cost-competitive by leveraging cloud-based services.

 

Flavius Toma, Director of Cloud Services

 

The Continued Support of Remote Work

 

 

The “virtual explosion” that took place for meetings, events, conferences etc. was one of the most influential trends in the Channel in 2020, along with launching Pax8 Pro and expanding into the UK market. Many of these changes will likely be permanent now that people have enjoyed the upside of reduced costs, less travel, and working from home. In fact, we’re most likely going to see more requests from people to work from home, especially if they’re still able to be just as product and just as effective.

 

I also believe that IT MSP companies will start to get more involved in-home office setup matters, such as ergonomics, work environments with unified communication, soft phone setups, headphone setups, and more. Companies will also likely be giving out more work from home allowances to cover all the costs that fall on their employees working remotely.

 

Everyone I know has “learnt new skills” this year in some way or another as a result of being stretched by new challenges. Many companies are looking at changing their in-office policies, not renewing leases, expanding into rural areas, and beefing up device security for employees at home. Heading into the new year, the accelerated adoption of collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams will continue at pace. Even kids in our schools are now using Teams!

 

Phylip Morgan, VP of International Channel

 

Supporting Each Other Through New Challenges

 

 

The Channel community stayed strong and united during the pandemic, pulling together during these tough times. MSPs learned to work together and not be afraid of sharing knowledge for the better. They also learned to educate their prospects and customers as opposed to selling them, and it paid off. Continuing on from this, I’m seeing the leaders of these MSPs start to invent new solutions that I believe will be realized in 2021 and beyond.

 

We all learned to become “people-first” organizations and make sure everyone’s mentality and well-being were intact. There were even a couple of positives and opportunities created from the crisis this year. First, the need for cloud technology has been advanced by several years as the world was forced to get used to it. And second, security has also been thrust forward as the pandemic has seen a significant rise in attacks and awareness has exploded. More MSPs are thinking about working with guidelines like CMMC than ever.

 

One of the things I’m most proud of was the Channel Strong Tour. Pax8, along with leading channel vendors, banded together to take the best part of cancelled live events and safely and responsibly brought them to the MSPs. In the process, we were able to not only lift the spirits of our community, but we also gave back. We infused the local economy by hiring small businesses, such as food trucks, to deliver food safely. Also, the admission to the events was two canned goods, which we donated to local food banks that had been hurt by the pandemic. The Channel community really pulled together to make it all work seamlessly.

 

Ken Patterson, Director of Channel Community

 

Exploring New Channels of Revenue

 

 

Traditionally, telecommunications agents only sold telecom products, but this wasn’t sustainable on its own. In 2020, agents started exploring new channels of revenue, embracing Microsoft and SaaS opportunities. Since Microsoft Teams has over 115 million daily active users as of October 2020, extending these solutions to our agents alleviates major pain points. Plus, with 94% of workloads hosted in the cloud and over $150 billion in annual IT is spent on cloud and cloud-related migrations, it’s no surprise that Microsoft products are one of the crucial tools that’s being used during this wildly chaotic year.

 

The result of embracing these new opportunities means that agents are becoming “stickier” with their customers and increasingly relevant to their clients by offering a complete solution. We are thrilled to see our agents winning with Pax8.

 

Samantha Nelson, VP of Channel Development

 

Increased Migration to Cloud Infrastructure

 

 

One of the most influential trends for the channel in 2020 was remote working due to COVID-19. This forced much of the American workforce to work remotely – primarily from home. This impacted the MSP community because suddenly there was an increased spotlight on cloud services from their customers. Customers who never had a remote workforce were forced to look at their options. At Pax8, we saw an increased interest in Microsoft infrastructure, specifically around Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD).

 

The biggest highlight of 2020 at Pax8 for me was seeing this company move from working in office to working from home. While I miss walking into the office with the buzz of Pax8 employees running around, we are a born-in-the-cloud company, which means we were never tethered to the office. And there were already a handful of us working remotely. But to see Pax8 make that transition gave a view into how other companies could be prepared for anything the future holds.

 

Stephen Slattery, Sales Manager

 

Shifting Focus from Devices to Identities

 

 

The growth of the cloud, accelerated by COVID-19, is no longer “an option” but rather “the option” as required work from home is now considered a plausible strategic risk. And as we now know, on-premises MSP/SMB IT infrastructure is dangerous.

 

Traditional methods of managing technology where RMM is used by an IT provider with “god mode” enabled creates huge liabilities and potential for abuse. Identities, not devices are the new control pane. We should all be reconsidering a device-based management architecture that creates an incentive for “shadow IT” and instead redeploy with a cloud-based virtual machine strategy focused on identity management.

 

In 2020, we have also proven to be a culture of resiliency. We faced many seemingly impossible challenges and yet we worked together to not only accomplish but also outperform our own expectations.

 

Anthony Camacho, Sales Director, Corporate Development

 

Looking Forward

Our hope for the future is that as the world slowly returns to normal, we hold on to the advances we’ve made in our cloud technology use. Our goal is to keep the accessibility that being in the cloud affords us so that even when live events and in-person activities resume, we still keep those from afar in the loop.

 

Hindsight might be 20/20, but we’re hoping to bring some 2020 insights with us into 2021 and beyond.