Richard hosts a panel session with CompTIA members who own or work with IT businesses about the future of the MSP.
A Panel Discussion at CompTIA UK Channel Community Meeting
This episode was recorded live at the CompTIA UK Channel Community meeting in Birmingham. Richard led a panel discussion on various aspects of running and growing a managed service provider (MSP) business, and the future of IT.
The Challenge of Having a Multi skilled Team
One of the concerns discussed by the panel was the need for an MSP to have a team who are not only technical experts but can also be advocates and salespeople for the business.
Chris Ward said that he had moved to focus on the business but had to go back into the business in order to answer queries from his clients that he didn’t feel any of his staff had the skills to deal with. There is a risk that he might lose the client.
In the future, it’s likely that specialists will be freelancers rather than employees, as the preference from workers moves towards that. Ian Vickers says the gig economy is exciting and technology being implanted now will allow us to trade globally. He recommends looking at your business needs and seeing if you can replace that with a freelancer or a collaborator now.
Tracy Pound believes that developing soft skills is vital for the tech sector: “We’ve got a lot of technical staff who are very clever and good at what they do, but they’re not necessarily good at communicating, asking questions, interrogating people.”
They are also your best, unofficial salesforce too, as the customers will feel comfortable dealing with them – if you as an account manager visit their office, the customer is likely to think you’re only there to sell.
Is AI Really a Threat to MSPs?
Perry Ashby believes that Artificial Intelligence (AI) it isn’t as much of a threat as we think, and he is planning to embrace it in his business. Vendors will start to introduce it, and it will have an impact on clients, so it’s best to be prepared for it.
Janet O’Sullivan says that what’s more important is to be aware of how AI can affect MSPs’ customers, and if they aren’t moving with the technology that’s out there, they’re going to lose their business to companies that are.
She adds: “If you’re not advising your customers how they can defend their turf with the technologies that are out there, then you’ll wake up some day and you’ll have no customers because their businesses will have folded.” You need to tell them how to protect their companies.
Tracy says that AI is new, emerging tech for a reason, which hasn’t touched the industry yet, but it will. “In the IT world, an emerging tech trend is artificial technology and data insight. It’s where we want to go to businesses and as consumers.”
How Collaboration can Help MSP Growth
Ian Vickers explains that his company has partnered with a consultancy which isn’t their competitors to find savings for their clients. In one case, they were able to save a membership-style organisation £1m over two years.
He says he’s passionate about collaborations and partnerships, and developing these effectively can benefit not only those involved but the end users too. CompTIA members are ideally placed to say that they need help and ask for support.
How MSPs Should Approach Marketing
Janet says it’s important for MSPs to think about how they define their business and what they do, and there’s a tendency for people to take too narrow a view. Doing that pigeon-holes you. This is the marketing challenge – to define what you do to show your customers how you can help them.
Perry says that the key is to pick the right channels. His company started out by using all social streams and are now concentrating on where they get engagement. You need to measure, learn from and report on the data you get back so you put effort into the right places.
Mentioned in This Episode
- Managed Enterprise Technologies
- Janet O’Sullivan of StorageCraft
- Tracy Pound of Maximity
- Perry Ashby of Urban Network
- Chris Ward of Vermont Systems Ltd
- Ian Vickers of MET
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