This week at CMIT Elevate, Continuum Vice President of Product Management & Technical Services, Dee Zepf, participated in a partner panel along with other leaders in the IT channel to discuss the current state of the channel today, how things have progressed since last year, and what to look forward to on the horizon. Read on for Dee’s answers to some interesting questions that were asked to the panel, and if you were in attendance, let us know in the comments below!
Q.Would you please describe three trends you have observed that have impacted your business this year?
First, there has been a lot of consolidation in the MSP market. You see MSPs teaming up, or buying other MSPs, so they can scale faster and have a wider reach. There has been a lot of success with that and we see some of our partners really taking off after their mergers. Lots of opportunity here. Our business model/platform can help them take on the challenge of accelerating growth, etc.
Second, the emergence of new technology and new vendors looking to make their mark in the channel. They are finding that it’s more difficult than expected to penetrate this market, due to the close-knit nature of service providers and the heavy reliance on word-of-mouth and peer recommendations. We’ve had to field numerous questions from many MSPs about some of these new technologies, and it still seems the biggest hesitation is the fact many of them are not channel exclusive. MSPs continue to want to work with companies that are focused on the channel and really understand their business model and needs.
Third, there’s a heightened awareness of security needs. MSPs are fielding questions from customers and are demanding solutions that can ensure the safety of data and critical business infrastructure for their customers. We’ve seen this especially in the healthcare and finance verticals. There are so many regulations in place now, and MSPs have to be aware of compliance laws and be able to educate their customers effectively.
Q.Would you please describe how you expect 2015 to be different from 2014, when it comes to managing technology?
I don’t think that it’s going to be all too different. We see MSPs trying to consolidate the management of their technology now—trying to use as few vendors as possible to satisfy the varying needs of their clients. A single pane of glass is becoming a lot more important to many of our partners, but in terms of how they manage their clients, the tools that are available today to them are still very relevant and useful.
Q.Would you please describe three attributes of your most successful partners? What are they doing that makes the difference?
First, they care about sales and marketing and are willing to invest in it. We have partners that have invested in this area that have increased their revenues over 1 million dollars more than last year.
Second, they are a part of a peer group of some form. Whether it’s HTG, Robin Robins, or the myriad other groups, having peers that hold you accountable for the company goals you set helps partners stay focused and on the right course.
Third, they’re willing to leverage the NOC and Help Desk to scale their business faster. Many partners have been hesitant to try it for a variety of reasons, but once they do, they wish they had done it sooner. You'll hear stories at this conference from your peers that have seen a lot of success with the “smart sourcing” model.
Q.Would you please describe how security concerns from our end-user clients have impacted your operations?
It’s never been more important for MSPs to stay ahead of new threats. Security breaches and attacks are increasing every year, and the attackers are getting more and more organized and advanced. Knowing the latest vulnerabilities and how they affect your business is crucial, and will continue to be of the utmost importance. To that end, we’ve just recently partnered with Webroot to offer a cloud based AV solution that’s extremely fast and effective, but also extremely lightweight. Additionally, we’ve taken great strides to ensure that data is encrypted and secure when designing our fully managed BDR platform, Continuum BDR, so it can also be leveraged where there are compliance and regulatory standards in place.