Here’s Where 50 MSPs Are Placing Their Technology Bets For 2020

In their applications for this year’s CRN Managed Service Provider 500, MSPs were asked what emerging technology areas they see as providing the biggest business opportunities. Here’s what some of them had to say.

Emerging Opportunities

As the channel morphs into a services-focused industry, the challenge for managed service providers (MSPs) is forecasting what services are going to be in demand from their clients. Since MSPs have to invest heavily in technology, talent and training to provide those services, betting on the right “next big thing” is key.

Applicants to this year’s CRN MSP 500 were asked what emerging technology areas they see as providing the biggest potential opportunities. Many, not surprisingly, cited security technologies and services of all kinds, while cloud technologies and services weren’t far behind. But others, from Kubernetes containers, to 5G and SD-WAN, to AI and machine learning, were also cited.

Here’s a sampling of the responses from 50 MSPs on this year’s list.

DKB Innovative

Top Executive: Keith Barthold, CEO

Breach detection and response through SOC/SIEM and EDR [endpoint detection and response]. Cyber security needs are rocketing, accelerated further by compliance or contractual requirements. We're educating organizations nationwide on the need for a true cybersecurity framework (like NIST) and the fact that protection alone isn't good enough. SMBs need detection and response, and a program that continuously identifies and remediates vulnerabilities. This detection and response is getting smarter and smarter with AI and machine learning rules that quickly identify breach attempts and vulnerabilities with automation to respond accordingly.


Top Executive: Matt Miller, Co-Founder, President

We see SD-WAN and 5G as the biggest opportunity going into 2020. Additionally, we acknowledge that security and compliance is a huge factor in deploying networks. That is why CISSDM is PCI/HIPAA/SOC2 compliant and we design network infrastructure with security in mind. We also have strategic partners that focus solely on other security-related topics who are brought to the table when the need comes up.

Impact Networking

Top Executive: Frank Cucco, CEO

In 2020, we see low-code app development, RPA [robotic process automation] and managed cybersecurity as the three biggest opportunities in emerging technology. RPA software is continuing to become more sophisticated and accessible, ultimately penetrating the SMB market. Low-code app development is no longer being used just by coders and developers. The software allows companies to create apps efficiently and quickly to provide a better experience for the customer.


Top Executive: Jeff Schmidt, CEO

Avertium is keeping a close eye on XDR [security] going into 2020. XDR is emerging as a subset of normal MDR [managed detection and response] offerings and a superset of the traditional EDR [endpoint detection and response] solutions. You will start seeing the XDR term being used by MSSPs to help supplement their MDR marketing and service offerings.

Colorado Computer Support

Top Executive: Blake Schwank, CEO

Co-managed IT. There are a lot of lonely IT directors over their heads in their businesses.


Top Executive: Jay Mellon, Owner, CEO

The emerging technology area that we see the biggest opportunity in is software development. With the ability to completely craft and refine any workflow within any business sector, software development offers endless possibilities to the small-business owner to completely transform their business processes. Being equipped to offer the development services businesses are seeking makes the relationship with their managed service provider even stronger as it solidifies the business consultant aspect.

Lincoln Computer Services

Top Executive: Teddy Cillis, President, CEO

Converged/hyperconverged has begun to mature in the midmarket space. With our commitment to education on these services and rationalization of IT infrastructures, we believe that this will be a significant opportunity for growth. We also believe the migration to utility-based services such as [Microsoft] Azure and AWS will continue and the ability to continue to be opportunistic on our own private cloud service will be a driver for growth.


Top Executive: Larry Bianculli, Managing Director

The biggest opportunity we see in 2020 is IoT. As more connected devices make their way into offices and more businesses allowing BYOD, security for these devices, as well as policy creation, is increasing. Businesses need assistance with managing and securing these devices.

Sirius Computer Solutions

Top Executive: Joe Mertens, President, CEO

While Sirius expects to experience continued steady growth in our traditional managed infrastructure service, our biggest opportunities are in emerging technology, namely: managed security (especially around AppSec and MDR); cloud (public, private and hybrid); cloud security, DevOps, SD-WAN and managed resiliency (backup, DR [disaster recovery], archiving) services. Sirius Managed Services will continue investing in automation and AIOps to evolve and enhance our offerings and continue to improve the client experience. Furthermore, upticks in data security, identity and access management, and application security indicate these will be among the biggest opportunities for Sirius in 2020 as they were in 2019.


Top Executive: Mike Chaput, CEO

With CCPA [California Consumer Protection Act] going into effect this year and the majority of our clients being in California, there are going to be a lot of questions from clients wondering how to set up their technology [so as] to not break the law. This is a thing in California and will most likely be relevant in the coming years to all states and eventually countries.


Top Executive: Jishnu Mitra, President, CEO

Identity and access management [IAM] as a packaged recurring service is expected to be a hot area for us in 2020. Companies realize, especially in a public cloud and SaaS world, that the weakest point in their security posture is not the network hole, nor the server vulnerability, but the user identity. Most breakages and threats are simple to address, it is the context and diligence that matters. The same operations-focused MSP team that manages the customer's technologies and people has the best footing to perform 24x7 watching and reacting to IAM threats.


Top Executive: John McDonald, Chief Evangelist

Most of what we'll see in technology opportunity in 2020 will center on IoT products and services that enable enterprises to comprehend data acquired by the second. Building and analyzing this data now delivers more information than ever before, and in 2020 enterprises will use data in greater volumes to improve decision-making, operations, efficiency, and customer, employee and stakeholder experiences. We see opportunities in prescriptive analytics, robotic process automation and machine learning. No matter the industry, investments in IoT engineering, machine learning and data analytics will be the key to staying competitive.


Top Executive: Paul Anderson, CEO

We have observed a regular cycle in the cybersecurity technology market, that periods of innovation are followed by consolidation. Heading into 2020 we have already begun to see the extreme proliferation of emerging technology begin to consolidate. A lot of this new market is already getting pared down to core vendors through purchases and acquisitions. For customers, sometimes this period means better integration opportunities. But in all honesty, sometimes it means complexity and headaches. Either way, we feel Novacoast is positioned to help businesses parlay value out of a changing landscape.

Simeio Solutions

Top Executive: Hemen Vimadalal, CEO

New passwordless technologies are beginning to appear. Today's user authentication methods are becoming archaic and impractical for both consumers and businesses. "By 2023, 30 percent of organizations will leverage at least one form of passwordless authentication, eliminating static passwords stored, which is major increase from today's 5 percent," according to a 2019 Gartner study titled 'Passwordless Authentication Is Here and There, but Not Everywhere'. Passwordless authentication will help ease the management of authentication and access while ensuring greater protection of personal and corporate data.

Universal E-Business

Top Executive: Anu Manocha, Managing Partner

Security management—microsegmentation and cloud security; IoT operations management, for example building facility services (lighting, shades, cameras, door sensors, temperature sensors, etc.); technologies and applications that provide real-time visibility into the state of IT systems, analytics, automation and actionable recommendations, wherever the systems reside (cloud/on-prem/hybrid); and tech ops advisory. We are increasingly seeing a demand for IT Operational advisory. Companies increasingly need to improve support and tech ops maturity levels across enterprise IT workgroups in a more rigorous and formal manner.

Denali Advanced Integration

Top Executive: Majdi Daher, CEO and Founder

IoT and artificial intelligence are beginning to become mainstream talking points with our enterprise clients.

Burwood Group

Top Executive: Mark Theoharous, CEO

Some key areas of opportunity for us include an expanded cloud services and cloud management services portfolio and helping our customers automate migration and workload deployment to optimize their cloud costs and resources. We have also built out our DevOps organization and are helping our customers with best practices, strategy and tools to modernize traditional applications. SD-WAN-as-a-Service, UC/UCC-as-a-Service and Tools-as-a-Service are additional areas of focus.


Top Executive: Kevin Routhier, Founder, CEO

Increasing push/interest on the client side toward single-vendor, cloud-first solutions. Namely, more customers are actively evaluating a push to Microsoft cloud (Office 365, Azure, etc.) to help reduce capital/infrastructure costs and streamline their operations.


Top Executive: Daniel Johnson, President

Clients are quickly adopting anti-phishing solutions and identity management is become a key component in most everyone's security road map. But we're also seeing managed threat response from vendors like Sophos and others becoming a big opportunity, especially for MSPs that can't natively offer a 24x7 SOC and may shy away from pricey SOC-as-a-Service vendors where remediation either isn't offered or comes at a premium. MTR [managed threat response] seems to bridge the gap for many compliance-oriented clients and MSPs. We also think that Microsoft's Windows Virtual Desktop is a game-changer.


Top Executive: Brad Taylor, CEO

Proficio was the first managed security vendor to provide Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR). We plan to invest further in this technology to improve the effectiveness and productivity of our services. We also see the application of AI and machine leaning as having a significant impact on cybersecurity in 2020.

Fully Managed Inc.

Top Executive: Mark Scott, CEO

We feel that ServiceNow with Remote ServiceNow Admin will continue to be our largest opportunity in 2020. We also see that the marriage of AI with Customer Experience (CX) automation will help transform the way services are delivered.

Computer Generated Solutions

Top Executive: Phil Friedman, President, CEO

The biggest opportunities will continue to be digital transformation and multi-cloud management. As customers continue their journey to cloud, application and data transformation initiatives expose multiple opportunities to provide strategy, planning and migration support for those transformative efforts. In addition, customers are evaluating cloud providers as target landing zones for their application workloads, and in doing so bear the burden of managing a multi-cloud environment themselves. CGS assists in providing management, patching and monitoring services across a multi-cloud environment to relieve customers of their operational responsibilities so they can focus on their business.

MTM Technologies

Top Executive: Marcus Holloway, President, CEO

Cloud services. We've learned that although cloud solutions have been viewed as a flexible, agile and simple method for organizations to deploy workloads and manage data, they have been plagued by unforeseen issues (runaway costs, difficulty predicting costs, complexity, challenges moving data back and forth, etc.). We are positioned to help customers navigate those challenges to be able to take advantage of the benefits of cloud solutions without falling victim to its pitfalls.


Top Executive: Jon Thomsen, CEO

We see large opportunities ahead within the data analytics, business intelligence, and IoT space, as well as InfoSec Services. We continue to expand our involvement in IoT/data analytics via the [Microsoft] Azure platform and the increase of our InfoSec services has really taken off. We're at the beginning of this transformation and there are a large number of applications that need to be rearchitected or modernized to take advantage of the economics, features and functionalities of the public cloud. Providing this service with an in-depth knowledge of the public cloud continues to be a significant opportunity.

Tier One Technology Partners

Top Executive: David Shaffer, Fouder, CEO

Managed detection and response in the security space. It is a game-changer and looks at intrusion behaviors completely differently.


Top Executive: Terry Swanson, President, CEO

Managed security services, including security policy management. Continued growth in IaaS based on the hyper-converged platform (Nutanix). Continued strong adoption of Microsoft PaaS services: Azure SQL, Active Directory as a Service, etc.

Intact Technology

Top Executive: Jesse White, President

We are very excited about the advances in AIOps within IT service management and service-based monitoring. Our customers have already shown a great amount of interest in the ability of these new technologies to reduce operational costs and drastically improve the customer experience. Therefore, we've started to train our ONPOINT workforce to ensure they can fulfill our customer needs in this area.

High Availability Storage Systems

Top Executive: Steve Eisenhart, CEO

Our biggest opportunities going into 2020 are around managed services, DevOps, public cloud and security. We have plans to cross-train existing personnel and add 50 percent more staff to support the growth we are expecting in all four areas.

Envision Technology Advisors

Top Executive: Todd Knapp, Founder, CEO

It's not really 'emerging,' but we see a big opportunity in data analytics and storytelling services in 2020. So many of our clients are unsure of how to use their data to help make an emotional connection with their audience and drive behaviors. This is an area that we are investing heavily in for 2020 by building out a managed data analytics team comprised of not only business intelligence experts and data scientists, but also human behavioral experts, artists and visual designers, storytellers and training experts.

Groupware Technology

Top Executive: Mike Thompson, CEO

As a disruptive technology that is accelerating digital transformation and enhancing business outcomes for our customers, we continue to make deep investments in AI. Our cloud practice will continue to be a focus in 2020. It's estimated that nearly 90 percent of enterprises will be in cloud by 2020. Mass migration to this platform will be a big opportunity for us to provide solutions to our customers on their multi-cloud journey. Cloud adoption continues to accelerate with advances in containers and serverless technologies, giving businesses the ability to accelerate development and drive competitive advantages. We also expect that the emergence of containers will be a big opportunity.

AdvizeX Technologies

Top Executive: C.R. Howdyshell, President

We believe that the HPE Greenlake offering is going to be big for us in 2020. The idea of consumption IT is something that fits into our customer needs. We also have a large focus on VMC [VMware Cloud] on AWS. Amazon Web Services should be of large interest to our customers. Automation should be a very hot area for us in 2020 as well. One thing our customers always mention is the need to cut costs and save time, things we can do with simple automation solutions.


Top Executive: John Hardon, President

The area of security is an ever-increasing opportunity for us. As we continue to educate our current client base on security risks, as well as market to new potential clients, they are becoming aware of the essential nature of security products. These products include BDR [backup and disaster recovery] solutions to address ransomware and malware infections, end-user awareness training, dark web monitoring platforms, dual- factor authentication tools, and threat detection and response strategies.

Apex Digital Solutions

Top Executive: Jason Lambiris, CEO

We expect to see continued growth with cloud voice and the modern meeting experience. In addition, we expect an increased demand around business process automation, data analytics and application development, specifically with low-code applications.

Information Technology Professionals

Top Executive: Paul Hager, Owner, CEO

Hyperconverged infrastructure becoming more affordable and accessible to small and medium-sized businesses.

Logicalis U.S.

Top Executive: Vince DeLuca, CEO

We continue to see IoT and analytics fueling growth. These use cases are delivered on a cloud platform with focused security efforts, emphasizing the importance of partnerships that offer expertise across our key verticals which include health care, GovEd and manufacturing.

Pearl Solutions Group

Top Executive: Gregg Smith, CEO

Managed desktop is an area we are watching as the technology to offer this type of solutions is becoming more available. The Microsoft Cloud platform is still early in its evolution, so we see it as an area that we will see continued growth in several areas including managed SQL services and managed BI services.

DP Solutions

Top Executive: Karyn Schell, President

Items that mesh the two biggest trends for MSPs, which is the increased focus on the cloud as well as increasingly complicated security and compliance needs, will be the big challenge and opportunity for 2020. This would include things like mobile device management to control dissimilar devices and users connecting to cloud assets, phishing testing and prevention products and services, managed detection and response, and others.

Cumulus Global

Top Executive: Allen Falcon, CEO

Security, no-code/low-code workflow tools, [and] AI/ML integrated into workflow processes.

CorKat Data Solutions

Top Executive: Mark Grundy, President

Continuing to provide IaaS to other MSPs and increasing the security for our MSP clients.


Top Executive: Gerry Miller, Founder, CEO

Kubernetes. [It is] gaining popularity in the market and our new Managed Kubernetes offering is going to present lots of opportunity.

Reliable IT

Top Executive: Bill Willett, CEO

Moving our clients to Microsoft Azure.

SmartPath Technologies

Top Executive: Gavin Green, Business Strategist

Once we get the chance to build the service, we plan on utilizing dark web scans as an addition to our services for all of our clients—and even market to people that aren’t clients since we would never have to go on-site for it. Other than that, we have determined that it is in our best interest, as well as our clients, to do hosted servers with thin clients for as many as possible. This requires much less maintenance and higher profitability in the form of extra recurring revenue.


Top Executive: Paul Boyer, Managing Partner

Development around Microsoft Teams.


Top Executive: Jeffrey D. McKeever, Founder, Chief Mentor

Business intelligence and data analytics.


Top Executive: Jared Reimer, CEO

Predictive analytics of time-series data, data analysis, IoT and AI/ML will be major trends and areas of focus in 2020.

Omega Systems Consultants

Top Executive: Bill Kiritsis, President, CEO

The three areas where we anticipate our biggest opportunity in 2020 include Infrastructure-as-a-Service, managed hosting and managed security. Omega Systems bases our response on the latest customer feedback and trends. Our data center, personalization, customization and flexibility allow us to provide services and options that public clouds and other MSPs can't offer, especially in the areas listed above. We continue to hear stories of businesses who have moved to the public cloud, then moved back to an on-prem or private cloud solution. We currently have customers that fall within varying stages of the digital transformation process and we expect to hear more of the same.

Akuity Technologies

Top Executive: Steve Cariglio, President

SOC-as-a-service will be a focus area in 2020.

American Digital

Top Executive: Norbert Wojcik Jr., President, CEO

SAP HANA migrations to managed platforms.

Doberman Technologies

Top Executive: Ian Richardson, CEO

Cloud/Windows Virtual Desktop. People are ready to stop spending capital in the SMB space for infrastructure (Server/Desktop). A simple 'price per user' that includes all infrastructure will be very appealing to people.

Pine Cove Consulting

Top Executive: Brandon Vancleeve, Vice President

The biggest opportunity we see for growth in 2020 is Sophos' new Managed Threat Response (MTR) offering. We believe this will resonate with our clientele and be the chief means of growth in 2020. We also see a big opportunity in providing cloud-based physical security with our partner Verkada. This is a very large demand among our clients and we have just begun to capitalize on this opportunity.