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It should not come as a surprise that the shift to remote work – set into motion by the COVID-19 pandemic – is here to stay. As government agencies begin to ease their COVID-19 restrictions and corporate office spaces begin to reopen, organizations around the country are continuing to ride the remote work wave through flexible, hybrid work structures. For many organizations that are transitioning to this new normal, however, the challenge of preparing and scaling their IT infrastructures to accommodate a hybrid environment seems insurmountable.

As a result, organizations are turning to managed service providers (MSPs) to handle their IT operations to facilitate their growing hybrid workforces. Gone are the days of MSPs being perceived simply as outsourced help desks. MSPs are now involved in nearly every aspect of an organization’s IT infrastructure – managing everything from security to hardware – which is enabling organizations to return their focus to the core of their businesses.

EDGE360 caught up with Amy Hodge, Sales Business Development Manager for Americas Distribution at Cisco Systems, to learn more about how managed services have evolved to accommodate hybrid work, the benefits organizations are seeing by shifting their IT needs into the hands of MSPs, as well as the promotions and incentives Cisco partners can take advantage of as they help customers embrace hybrid work.

Here is what Amy had to say:

EDGE360 Editors: How have managed services shifted to address changing needs/priorities as more companies adopt a hybrid work environment?

managed services

Amy Hodge: The ability to work from anywhere has been one of Cisco’s top priorities for years. However, this had not been a priority for many businesses before the pandemic proved that leveraging technology to allow work from anywhere is important. 

Many organizations who were not prepared for hybrid work relied heavily on MSPs and service providers to help their employees get up-and-running from home offices and remote workspaces as quickly as possible. It simply was not feasible for them to make that kind of pivot without outside help. 

EDGE360 Editors: What important lessons have been learned about managed services in a hybrid work setting?

Hodge: Managing a hybrid work environment is difficult and costly for many organizations to do on their own. This means using subscription-based services, or anything as a service (XaaS), helps many businesses avoid large upfront costs and shift expenses to a manageable monthly payment model. 

In most cases then, MSPs provide an overall better IT experience for organizations. MSPs can deliver modern infrastructure, IT consulting and CIO services for an organization’s hybrid work environment in a much more economical way than building and maintaining your own in-house IT team.

EDGE360 Editors: How does a managed services approach address new and emerging challenges of the hybrid work environment?

Hodge: We cannot predict what the world will look like in the future. However, leveraging managed services allows an organization to focus on their core business and partner with an MSP who can drive the technology strategy to support their business focus. 

EDGE360 Editors: Are there any current services-related incentives or promotions that Cisco partners can take advantage of as they help customers embrace hybrid work solutions?

Hodge: Yes, the Provider Program is designed to assist our MSP partners with discounts and marketing development funds.

We also currently have a Partner Summit offer that is rewarding our partners for taking the MSP Blackbelt trainings. Cisco also offers a full suite of SaaS security and collaboration solutions offered at the price and consumption model that fits our MSP’s business model and customer needs. 

EDGE360 Editors: How do you anticipate managed services to evolve in the next couple of years as hybrid work becomes more ubiquitous?

Hodge: Managed services have been known largely as help desk and remote monitoring focused services. These services are rapidly expanding to include Cloud Calling, Hardware as a Service, Collaboration as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, and, Security as a Service. 

There is also a huge shift towards subscription consumption models. Businesses are now expecting the same flexibility and scalability in their IT as consumers have come to enjoy. The MSPs and service providers who offer these innovative services in a flexible consumption model to their customers will be the long-term winners and Cisco is here to help!

Interested in learning more about the hybrid work evolution? Visit the EDGE360 Hybrid Work Resource Center and find information on free trials and demos to bolster your Cisco practice.