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It’s not just them though. A willingness to adapt & change is crucial for all businesses throughout the IT channel.

It’s well-known that the rate of technological change in IT is extremely high. As anyone can attest, devices have come a long, long way since the 286, 386 and 486 machines of the mid-to-late 80s.

And it’s not just hardware which is evolving rapidly, but literally everything – cloud, virtualization & client computing, big data & analytics, security, mobile – there is literally no aspect of IT which is not undergoing change in some shape or form.

It’s no wonder then that MSP evangelist at software company SolarWinds MSP, Dave Sobel, said he’s concerned by MSPs’ ability to not only keep up with the rapid growth of technology, but to acquire the business skills required to maintain customer relationships.

Every business today is a technology company at some level.

“I worry about solution providers’ ability to keep up with the transformational changes, because technology is moving so fast and spreads so ubiquitously,” he told Christine Horton of Computer Weekly. “Ten or 15 years ago, technology wasn’t as key to business. Every business today is a technology company at some level.”

Of course this isn’t just true within the MSP space. The entire IT distribution channel is facing upheaval and pressure from various sources. Cloud, increased competition and competitiveness, vertical price pressure and increased end-user knowledge are changing things for vendors, distributors and resellers.

As such MSP’s are adapting – Sobel said the changes to the MSP space were leading some MSPs to specialise in a vertical, technical speciality, or demographic.

“They’re finding their own particular way to engage with the market, and not be ‘all things to all men’, which is a lot harder than it’s ever been” he said.

The core role of the MSP always has been, and will continue to be, that of trusted advisor.

They’re not alone. Distributors and resellers too are finding new ways in which to add customer value and reshape their business operations. Cloud service brokerages, up-skilling and acting as trusted experts and specialized intermediaries are some ways in which they are doing this.

Indeed, Sobel maintained that the core role of the MSP always has been, and would continue to be, that of the trusted advisor. “SMBs want to know they’re making a good decision…that’s the core thing” he said.

What’s clear is that a willingness to adapt is key. According to research and advisory company Altimeter, the final stage in a six-stage digital transformation process is that of being innovative and adaptive – where “digital transformation becomes a way of business, as executives and strategists recognize that change is constant. A new ecosystem is established to identify and act on technology and market trends, first in pilot, and then at scale.”

As Werner Vogels, CTO for AWS states: “The first requirement for developing an innovation mindset is to adapt your offerings fast to changing customer behavior.”