Having even the most well-thought-out strategy cannot account for every possible variable, including expansion plans, which is what happened to Office Solutions IT.
Before long-term business continuity plans or capitalising from a remote working boom were even on the table, the Western Australia-based managed services provider (MSP) had its eyes set on an east coast expansion.
The plan was to take one of the company's Perth managers and have them open up shop across the other side of the country, as James Sutton, managing director, suggested: maintaining the business culture was important, even in a remote location.
However, the coronavirus pandemic threw a wrench into the works.
“Unless the current situation changes we will not be able to [expand], primarily because the support a new office would need from us will not be possible, and secondly, our team member isn’t keen to move over, especially while a state is in lockdown,” Sutton said.
“Having that team member flying back to WA and visiting friends and family wouldn’t be possible with the hard border in place in WA.
“Also, we won’t be able to jump on a plane and help out in that remote office, as we would be unable to get back into WA without serving a two week quarantine period.”
As a result, the expansion plans are now on ice, and in fact quite possibly could be delayed until there are either no more hard borders or a vaccine is made available.
So, what’s the MSP doing now that it can’t expand for now?
Keeping flexibility in mind, Office Solutions IT is shifting gears to fit in with the current environment.
An in-house client support application is in development, which allows for clients to submit support tickets, provide progress updates and allow for communication both ways.
“We think calling and having to speak to someone to log an issue is very 20th Century. Help will only be a click away with this new app,” Sutton said.
Also on offer is expanding its monthly subscription product offerings to include desktops, laptops, firewalls and switches – a move Sutton thinks synergises well with Microsoft 365 licensing.
“We think this will be even more helpful in the tight economic times we find ourselves in,” he said.
Cyber security is another area that the MSP is being flexible around, and is one area in particular Sutton foresees a key challenge for clients in the immediate future.
“Threats are continuing to increase and some clients have sacrificed their cyber security posture to enable working from home. Attackers know this and are moving to exploit,” he added.
“We see big differences in clients’ approaches to cyber security, some are prepared to invest in protecting their businesses and others have an attitude of ‘she’ll be right, mate’. The MSP that approaches both of those clients in the same way is going to be in for a hard time.
“Flexibility is also needed now that clients' working arrangements are looking a lot less traditional. Why does a client need a big firewall for their office when they are rarely there, for example?”
That flexibility is going to be vital, as Sutton predicts a down-turn in client spending as everyone gets settled with their remote working set-up.
“IT providers had a mini-boom during the pandemic as clients spent to get decent working from home solutions. Ultimately, I think that brought forward a lot of IT spending so clients will have already spent (or overspent) their IT budgets for some time,” he added.
“We may be in for some harder times once JobKeeper ends which will lead to belt-tightening in general which will have a knock-on effect on IT spending.”
ARN Advance is a centralised editorial resource designed to help partners access forward-looking content as the Australian market attempts to reposition for growth.