2024 projections for MSPs: Navigating AI, cybersecurity, and diverse partnerships

Patrick O’Donnell, SVP, Worldwide MSP Sales, Barracuda

Success depends on MSPs’ readiness to embrace these shifts, enhance cybersecurity measures, and provide comprehensive solutions in the upcoming year.

As we close the books on 2023, now is an excellent time to take stock of the successes and challenges of the past year, where we made progress and where we fell short. It’s also a perfect time to think about where the cybersecurity market is headed next year – for MSPs, that means doing the work to incorporate new technologies and security solutions into your offerings while gearing up for the ever-changing threat landscape. 

Heading into next year, the good news is that technological advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are making it easier for organizations to identify and mitigate emerging cyberthreats. The bad news is that cybercriminals’ rapid embrace of these same technologies will pose a new host of security challenges. Here are a few predictions as we welcome the new year.

Prediction #1: AI technology, threat intelligence, and cyber hygiene will become essential components of service delivery

Beyond helping their customers find ways to utilize AI to expand their businesses, MSPs should see how they can couple AI with the cybersecurity measures they have in place to aid the fight against increasingly sophisticated cyberthreats. The collaboration of these two powerful tools – combining up-to-date threat intelligence with AI and machine learning – helps to identify and respond to potential threats more efficiently, providing a proactive defense against attacks that could otherwise have devastating consequences.

Furthermore, to minimize the risk of cyberthreats, MSPs must implement standard best practices for cyber hygiene. As cyber hygiene and network visibility become increasingly crucial, more businesses are expected to adopt extended detection and response (XDR) and other solutions to receive critical alerts while minimizing noise fatigue.

Prediction #2: MSPs will be critical in enabling businesses to adopt generative AI and automation technologies securely

Automation, including generative AI, is becoming increasingly prevalent, and various tools are available now to help businesses improve efficiency and save time. While the benefits of automation and generative AI are clear, businesses must ensure platform security when using these tools. As such, many companies are creating their own internal engines to maintain control over information access, while others rely on software as a service (SaaS) and tool vendors for the underlying technologies that drive these engines. 

MSPs will be crucial in enabling their clients to integrate generative AI into their businesses in the coming year. They should prioritize enhancing their knowledge and technical skills around generative AI, particularly in securing these platforms. By educating their clients on implementing and utilizing generative AI’s transformative capabilities in their organizations, they can find new avenues to expand their businesses. 

Prediction #3: Consolidation of threat feeds to help MSPs combat bad actors

We are observing the recurrence of the trends we saw five years ago. MSPs are acquiring other MSPs, while some businesses are moving towards reducing the number of vendors they work with, explicitly concerning security tools. For example, these companies consolidate their security tools to avoid dealing with multiple vendors. At the same time, the FBI advises using various products that cover different security aspects and provide additional data feeds to gain better protection. In other words, businesses are urged to diversify their security portfolios to gain more comprehensive threat coverage. 

However, it’s not just about the diversification of security products but the need for a platform that can consolidate views and analyze threat feed paths. This concept of consuming different threat feeds is important, something we will hear more about in the coming year, and something that MSPs need to become familiar with. Threat feeds will be crucial in combating cyberthreats as they provide businesses with the level of visibility the FBI recommends.

Prediction #4: SMEs will rely on multiple MSPs to meet their technology needs

The global managed services market is projected to grow from $283.90 billion in 2023 to $671.14 billion by 2030. And, a recent survey estimates that nearly 88 percent of small and medium enterprises use or plan to use MSPs to manage their infrastructure. As more and more businesses are using MSPs, the market is expanding rapidly. Many companies now require multiple partners to assist them, and their managed services needs are also growing. As a result, instead of relying on just one partner who can do everything, they are using different MSPs to complete various tasks. MSPs that continue to add more services like AI, automation, and cybersecurity will be able to tap into this growing market.

Security-focused MSPs that put in the work to gain expertise in emerging AI-based threats and the generative AI tools that their clients are deploying, and can provide the holistic visibility clients need, will be well positioned to succeed in the new year.

Patrick O’Donnell is SVP, Worldwide MSP Sales Barracuda where he is responsible for accelerating Barracuda’s MSP sales, driving the go-to-market strategy, execution, and programs for the sale of security, data protection, and Managed XDR offerings through the channel. Connect with Patrick on LinkedIn.