Channel Live 2024: Communications, Security and the Customer Experience - Tubblog: The Hub for MSPs

Channel Live 2024: Communications, Security and the Customer Experience

Channel Live 2024: Communications, Security and the Customer Experience image

Channel Live 2024 was an event aimed at IT resellers, managed service providers (MSPs), and IT service providers.

The event was dominated by telecom companies, there to give new prospective customers options as the PSTN switch-off deadline looms.

However, there were some other highlights worthy of mention too.

The event took place over two days, but we went along to experience what day one had to offer.

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Channel Live 2024

Channel Live 2024 took place in Birmingham’s NEC on Wednesday 20th March and Thursday 21st March.

The exhibitors’ hall featured dozens of vendors, distributors, value-added resellers (VARs), and media partners.

Among the exhibitors were:

As well as the exhibitors there were regular roundtable breakout sessions and a full programme of speakers across two theatre stages.

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Channel Live 2024 Conference Highlights

As I mentioned before, the were lots of panels and presentations revolving around the PSTN Switch Off, and how this could affect your business or the industry you serve.

However, as well as those, two sessions stood out as my highlights.

Q&A Panel: Cybersecurity – What Are the Options?

Tracy Pound, Managing Director of Maximity Ltd, moderated a panel on cybersecurity.

The panelists:

Here are just some of the discussion points:

The challenge of cybersecurity. How do we move forward as an industry?

Zeshan said we need to go back to basics and focus on culture first.

The end user may not appreciate the technical terminology but they need to be empowered through education. How can you make your business compliant and protected?

You need to train your people to spot phishing emails and build their trust as a partner in the chain.

What are the challenges facing tech companies today?

Hannah said the skills gap is a big challenge for tech companies. Finding the right people is difficult and can be expensive.

Alongside the right tools and processes, the right people are key to building trust in your business.

How do you hold cybersecurity conversations at the business level as expert technology providers?

Andrew said as the experts we are also aware of what we don’t know. To claim true expertise requires a much more in-depth analysis of today’s landscape.

How do we ensure regulation comes into our industry correctly?

Jack suggested that we have to help assist the regulators in what to look out for. It’s a combination of processes and technology that we need to manage. It should be regularly reviewed, with no misconfiguration, at regular intervals.

Where do frameworks fit in with our cybersecurity strategy?

Hannah said there are many frameworks to choose from, and some are a better fit for your business than others. They can be quite cumbersome and over-complicated for some business types, and so they should be used as a baseline, and not a replacement for your processes.

What’s stopping MSPs from doing more in the cybersecurity arena?

Zeshan said that fear is a big part of it, but you don’t have to do it alone. The channel community is approaching the same struggles, and are there to be leveraged.

Hannah backed up this point, saying the experience and wisdom of the community are there to be learned from. Security doesn’t have to be perfectly in place overnight.

Both Hannah and Andrew agreed that budget and resources were important factors in discouraging MSPs from doing more in cybersecurity.

Thinking of their relationship with vendors. What should MSPs be doing right now to improve cybersecurity?

Jack said that MSPs need to adopt a security-first culture in their own businesses right now. Understanding their own posture is critical in determining what their customers need, and what’s missing from their stack.

Andrew said they need to be a little less trusting of vendors’ ‘silver bullet’ marketing. They should do their due diligence in thinking about where a product fits in their whole stack. And they should consider how their expertise as an MSP can lift the service to the next level.

How can the industry address the skills gap?

Jack started off by saying that it’s really important that we up-skill our staff. Training is essential in retaining staff and keeping their skills up-to-date.

Appropriate certification is something MSPs need to practice more of, given the expectations of our customers.

Zeshan said there is a massive shortfall in skills, and the industry is still ‘stale, pale and male’. We should be doing more to encourage diversity in the channel.

‘The industry is still 'stale, pale and male'. We need to encourage more diversity into the channel to address the skills gap’ - Zeshan Sattar, @CompTIA Click to Tweet

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From ‘Meh’ to ‘Wow’: 5 CX Tactics to Make MSP Prospects and Customers Love You (Even) More

Mark Copeman from Wingman MSP Marketing led an incredibly engaging presentation in the second of my conference highlights.

Aimed at improving the customer experience of an MSP’s visitors, prospects, and customers, the presentation was full of good tips that any MSP could implement in their own business.

Mark started off by defining good customer experience as a company ethos – not limited to a department or job role.

Below are just a few of the areas he covered.

Enhancing Your Website

Your website’s aim should be to start a conversation with people.

The area above the fold should contain some important elements in order to keep the visitor reading.

Elements like:

  • An explanation of what you do
  • A nice image
  • A clear call to action
  • A testimonial quote

Mark urged MSPs everywhere to ban the ‘white teeth’ people from their website.

It’s much better to use local images or images of your own team/offices.

You can hire a photographer to take photos of your team – it’s well worth the investment to bring your personality across on your website.

Enticing Prospects

A simple contact form on your website is not enticing enough.

You’ll have better results if you offer something that a prospect might be interested in.

A landing page with a nice image of yourself and what you can offer, alongside a booking link is a good start. If you can offer something of value, like: “claim my free website review”, it not only draws them in but gives you a conversation starter.

Your Team

The moments of interaction during your service delivery are what your customers remember. Account managers and engineers are often the face of your business.

Therefore, it’s important to build a strong service culture in your team.

Examples of good phrases you can use when delivering your services include:

“Let me take care of this for you.” and “Please don’t worry, I can help you with that.”

It can be a useful idea to set your corporate wallpaper to something different each month as a reminder, such as: “Shall I book that in for you?”

Because once a customer has had to chase you for a service they’ve already asked for, you’ve lost.

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Reflections on Channel Live 2024

As there were many telco companies in attendance, there was much to get out of the event for MSPs that still to consider their options ahead of the big PSTN switch-off.

The broad strokes of the conference timetable offered other insights. But on the whole, two days seemed a bit overkill for the average MSP.

However, for the one day that I attended, I think it was worth the time.

I met some very knowledgeable vendors and resellers and had interesting conversations with MSPs that I met.

I hope that next year the event will evolve even more to fit the demands of the channel.

Did you attend Channel Live 2024, if so what did you make of it? How does it compare with other expo events you’ve been to?

Let us know all about it in the comments.

Channel Live 2024

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STEPHEN MCCORMICK

I'm the MSP Community Manager for Tubblog. A small business owner, technical writer and blogger, with 15 years experience in corporate IT. I frequently attend MSP peer groups and create content relevant to IT service providers and business owners.

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