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Managed services may have lost some of their hype over the course of 2011 to everyone’s favorite media darling, the cloud. However, growth is still strong over the past 5 years collectively.

Industry blog MSPmentor has just posted the preliminary findings of its annual MSPmentor 100 survey of the top 100 companies in the managed services game worldwide. And those 100 top MSPs saw their recurring revenues grow by about $1.04 billion over 2010 revenues – a growth rate of 28 per cent.

So where’s that growth going? As we’ve mentioned recently, the big are getting bigger as consolidation becomes a fact of life in the industry. MSPmentor’s study seems to validate that observation. Consider this: the top 100 MSPs in its study managed 2.70 million end user devices at the end of 2011. That’s tremendous growth over 2010’s figure of 1.79 million devices. But look a little closer and you’ll find what MSPmentor editorial director Joe Panettieri describes as “the wild part”: more than half of those desktops and mobile devices (1.8 million of them to be precise) are managed by the top two players in the game.

That said, this means that there are still just shy of one million end user devices in the hands of smaller MSPs across North America, and that number is growing.

2012 looks to be the year when the RMM vendors get really serious about getting smartphones and tablets onto their list of devices that can be managed through their dashboards. While an MSP may not be able to charge as much for a smartphone as has been the traditional rate for a desktop or laptop PC, there are a staggering number of these devices out there with corporate data on them, and every one of those phones is a new potential opportunity for many MSPs.

That should drive a healthy, if not astronomical, growth figure in terms of number of devices managed in 2012 over 2011, but what about profitability?

As we reported late last year, many established MSPs are starting to see competition from upstarts that see the promise of managed services and are deciding to compete on pure cost instead of value provided.

And yes, there are always going to be some clients who prefer to save a buck to get mediocre service – but these are the perfect kind of customers for you to fire.

There are always new opportunities to add more value to existing customers, and with that comes greater profitability as well as greater satisfaction. And although new customers can be tough and expensive to find, there are still some poor SMBs out there who have not heard “the good word” of managed services. If you are having trouble getting that word out – there are a multitude of services from MSP Marketers to Live Help Desks who help you lighten the load and refocus your efforts where it truly counts.

Another bit of insight from the preliminary findings. If you’re wondering why your RMM and PSA vendor partners seem to have been racing to open up new markets over the course of last few years, here’s the likely reason. While the total number of devices MSPs are managing in other parts of the world (most notably EMEA and Asia, Australia and New Zealand) remains comparatively small, the growth opportunity is astounding.

MSPmentor’s study notes that the top 250 MSPs in North America reported combined total annual recurring revenues of $1.07 billion in 2011, up 32 per cent over the year ago. They achieved that growth by moving the number of desktops and mobile devices managed from 3.1 million in 2010 to 4.2 million in 2011. A nice growth number.

But the top 25 MSPs in Asia, Australia and New Zealand saw revenues jump 44 per cent over 2010 coming in at $102 million, while growing number of devices managed by 37 per cent over the course of last year.

And the top 50 MSPs in a rapidly expanding EMEA market reported recurring revenues of $191 million in 2011, up a massive 53 per cent over 2010 levels. They did so by managing 164,000 devices for end users, up 41 per cent from 2010 levels.

So while it’s still clear that North America leads the way when it comes to the acceptance of managed services, the rest of the world sees what’s going on clients are interested. And while they’re growing rapidly, some of those regions (particularly EMEA) still look like they have a lot of headroom for growing their managed services business before managed service providers in those regions reach the level of penetration seen here in North America.

MSPmentor is slated to reveal the full details of its survey on a webcast on February 15.