The business community has been through more challenges and transformations over the past three years than at any previous point in time. The IT side of operations has been extremely busy, from the global pandemic-inspired push to ramp up cloud adoption and remote/hybrid workplace options to the immense and ever-shifting threats cybercriminals pose.
Economic concerns are forcing even more changes. Most companies are dealing with the ongoing threats of recession and continued high inflation rates, seeking to keep the pace of revenue increases in line with expenses and making more conservative yet wise investments. No matter how the economic pendulum swings in 2023, business leaders are hedging their bets to ensure success—or, worst-case, a softer landing.
What do all these changes mean for MSPs? Whether halfway through a year or approaching the next, providers are the purveyors of transformation, especially concerning IT-centric systems and business processes. Knowing what concerns and opportunities lie ahead and how the proper solutions can ease their operational transitions is a critical value proposition for MSPs. Many small business owners depend on their providers’ “clairvoyance-as-a-service” capabilities to assess the future landscape and recommend improvements to maintain their competitive edge.
One of the prime areas of change over the past few years is payments. A number of factors contribute to the shift in how people and businesses purchase goods and services. From the growth of online procurement options to the convenience of technology-based payments—in-person and virtual—these trends impact IT infrastructure, cybersecurity measures and business policies.
Electronic transaction capabilities are essential. With global cashless payments expected to increase more than 80% between 2020 and 2025 and nearly triple by 2030, according to research from PwC and Strategy&, every business needs to evaluate its options.
MSPs can play a significant role in those activities for their SMB clients.
Overcoming the Complexity and Confusion
Many organizations struggle with payment ecosystems—not just methods for managing customer transactions but for securely and efficiently compensating contractors and suppliers. These essential processes and the tools they leverage to buy and sell products and services may not seem complex to an experienced MSP, but they can far exceed the technical know-how of many SMBs.
Payment expertise is a trusted value-add that allows IT services firms to differentiate themselves from less savvy competitors.
The costs of mistakes in this field can be high, highlighting the importance of working with skilled transaction professionals. Few SMBs have expertise in implementing and supporting digital payment platforms and adhering to a multitude of continually changing compliance requirements. The more MSPs know about implementing, managing, and securing these systems for their clients, the greater their value to existing and prospective clients. Of course, to deliver those services, providers need to keep up with—and stay ahead of—the latest developments.
The Trends of 2023
As the year comes to a close, now’s the time to reflect on the successes and challenges of the previous 12 months and begin executing plans for the future. What will the payment landscape look like in the coming year, and how can MSPs enable their clients in these areas? Here are a few trends that might shake up the “status quo” for SMBs and the IT services firms they look to for support:
- Payment protection (cybersecurity). Every business must take steps to ensure their customers’ data is secure from unauthorized access, breaches and misuse. With digital payments escalating exponentially, bank and credit card issuers continue to refine and tighten controls to keep that information as safe as possible. MSPs that understand the rules, regulations, and security measures—including the PCI DSS v4.0 standards—that protect a customer or partner’s privacy, data, and transactions are invaluable resources for SMBs today. Building a secure payments practice is a solid investment that every provider should consider in 2023 and beyond.
- Cryptocurrency. The death of blockchain payments has been widely reported in the media in the past few months, from the nearly two-thirds valuation decrease of Bitcoin to FTX, which hit $32 billion at one point before filing for bankruptcy in November. Coinopsy reported earlier this year that at least 2,421 cryptocurrencies had already failed. As with many innovations, the vast majority of entrants can be classified as speculators with risky balance sheets and prospects, but the model still holds tremendous promise. MSPs need to understand if, when and how clients may incorporate cryptocurrencies into their procurement and payment programs and then support their adoption plans.
- Recessionary trends. When money gets tight, and expenses rise, businesses look to trim costs. Many experts suggest that if a global recession is not already underway, the signs indicate a downturn coming in 2023. MSPs can help clients on several fronts—from augmenting sales and marketing efforts with new tools to maximize revenue to reducing expenses with automation and new efficiency solutions. For example, providers can implement self-serve payment portals and find new ways to reduce payment card charges and streamline collections.
- Autopay. The tide has turned for pre-scheduled online payments. The pandemic inspired people to trial contactless options for paying bills and conducting transactions, and those trends will continue. MSPs can make those processes easier for their clients with secure and automated payment solutions and related support services.
- Digital gains. Online and app-enabled payments continue to chip away at cash and check-driven transactions. While most won’t go as far as to predict traditional payment methods will soon be obsolete, as does the NY Times, many businesses realize the benefits of digital currency. Most business owners appreciate being able to convert receivables to cash flow and eliminate most, if not all, of the labor-intensive processes associated with collections. Like other critical business operations, MSPs can recommend or provide digital payment solutions to address those needs.
Back to the Future
The IT services ecosystem continues to grow. More employees work from home or in hybrid environments today, outside the safety of traditional brick-and-mortar corporate buildings and firewalls, with more cybersecurity risks than ever before. Dealing with all the complexities of these diverse IT systems, shifting customer preferences, and procurement processes can cause heartburn for business owners.
Those challenges are especially prevalent on the payment side of the business. MSPs can elevate their practices and reputations with advanced expertise in this area. Leading the way with new solutions, policies, and processes is just one of the many ways providers can stand apart from the competition.
MSP businesses that stay a step or two ahead of the competition (and cybercriminals) provide greater insight and support and can develop more proactive solutions to elevate their clients’ operations.
Capitalizing on these trends can help make the year ahead profitable. Make sure your newfound profits don’t get stuck in accounts receivable by utilizing ConnectBooster. Schedule a demo and see how your MSP can automate getting paid with two-way data syncing and automations that will improve cash flow, and save time and money.