A Perfect Match: Security is an Essential Component of any Managed Services Offering Blog Feature


By: Kathleen Wirth on July 25th, 2019

A Perfect Match: Security is an Essential Component of any Managed Services Offering

Decades ago, office security typically involved locked offices and file cabinets, and perhaps a building alarm system. That's all changed of course, and today, security is a prime consideration for any Office Equipment Dealer providing managed services. 

Why? First, as with any managed service it is a source of recurring revenue, augmenting the loss of revenue from declining print volumes in the office. Second, security—and security breaches—have never been more of a concern in enterprises and organizations, with well-publicized hacks occurring on a regular basis.

Why Cyber Security Can’t Be Ignored by Managed Services Providers

Mike Burgard, chief information security officer for Marco in St. Cloud, Minnesota, notes that "2018 was another tough year in cybersecurity. We continue to see staggering stats and a growing cyber security threat that changes 'if' to 'when.'"

According to Cisco, 53% of mid-size businesses have experienced a data breach, while the FBI reports SMBs are targeted more than 50% of the time, although other sources estimate upwards of 70%.

Ultimately, says Burgard, enterprises probably have a greater than 50% chance of being the victim of a cyberattack in the next year.  To make it worse, an average of 40% of cyber incidents cause more than eight hours of downtime, which some businesses never recover from.  

Customer Expectations Around Cyber Security

Although Burgard says that while the statistics don't look great, "it’s not entirely grim."  Many businesses outsource some service today, such as auditing, cleaning services, or, in many cases, information technology (IT).  So, if a business outsources its IT security to a Managed Service Provider (MSP), does it include security?  Most do, but sometimes a significant gap exists between what an MSP provides and what's actually needed to keep a business safe. Marco, for example, casts a wide security net.

Marco’s IT security offerings have evolved from managed firewalls to multi-factor authentication, event correlation and management, device monitoring, baselining, third-party patching, and patch management. Interest has been driven by emerging industry standards and regulatory changes within the financial, healthcare, and energy markets over the past five years, as well as growing awareness around security in businesses of all sizes.  

“Unfortunately, security is often retroactive when it really needs to be proactive,” says Burgard.

Marco’s proactive approach involves educating its IT customers monthly about the latest security threats via five-minute videos, which are a standard component of Marco’s managed IT security services.   

With its ever-expanding national footprint, Marco has found it more effective to segment its security offerings by vertical market rather than by geography. For example, dedicated teams cater to financial and/or healthcare customers, who typically have different security needs than customers in non-regulated industries.  

“We have engineers who understand those regulated markets, which makes us more efficient in helping them maintain regulatory compliance,” says Burgard. 

A Recurring Theme

Dealers are enamored with the recurring revenue model and that model is a perfect match for security offerings in the managed services segment. Here, one finds recurring revenue around multi-factor authentication, device monitoring, and event correlation and management. Under the recurring model, pricing is often per user because, as Burgard explains, it’s easier for customers to understand, track, manage, and maintain, and it’s easier for Marco to do the same.  

Other pricing models are based on the amount of data, the size of the data, or the number of end points.  

Most customers understand the specific risks particular to their business.  Burgard explains that each business is different and something like ransomware can have a very different impact from one business to another.  Companies should expect their MSP to help navigate risks and reduce or mitigate them accordingly. This means the MSP must go beyond providing firewalls, backup solutions, and antivirus software.  The MSP must be effective in taking in cyberthreat intelligence, leveraging intelligence to protect company assets, and be able to respond in minutes when suspicious activity is detected.  

Total Security is Elusive

One of the major security challenges is the expectation of total security, says Burgard. No solution is ever 100% safe.

“The big corporate logos in the news prove that,” says Burgard. “Security is all too often reactive: bad guys find new holes in technology, exploit them, and we respond by detecting and patching them. The cycle continues, and unfortunately someone is always the first victim.”

He adds that effective security is similar to what you hear great football coaches talk about—the fundamentals.

"Use long passwords, multi-factor authentication, patch your systems, test your security measures periodically, and use privileged access management – these are just some of the fundamentals,” says Burgard.

Becoming an Indispensable Partner

Providing security is increasingly becoming expected and Burgard maintains that customers are willing to pay for specialized cybersecurity skills.

“Let the MSP deal with high salaries, benefits, vacation time, and the other challenges of fulfilling [the customer’s] contract," he says.

Ultimately, for Office Equipment Dealers, security services along with managed services  will represent an additional source of recurring revenue going forward, but a critical offering for becoming an indispensable partner to their managed IT customers.

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Kathleen Wirth

Kathleen Wirth is vice president and owner of office-imaging news destination site, Wirthconsulting.org. She has been covering the office-imaging industry for over 20 years, and has been a regular contributor to many industry publications. As an analyst and writer, she has covered product launches, written guides for using MFPs, printers and their software, and has tracked industry news and provided in-depth analysis, from new product introductions to OEM financial news. She has also tested and reviewed many MFPs and printers. Her hands-on experience garnered from years of testing printers and copier/MFPs provides her with a unique perspective when covering new products and technology. She holds an MA degree from New York University.

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