12 Challenges MSPs Face In 201312:00 PM EST Wed. Nov. 28, 2012
From mobility to finding talent to integrating cloud, managed service providers will face a lot of challenges heading into 2013. CRN's Scott Campbell asked 10 MSPs at ConnectWise's 2012 IT Nation Conference in Orlando what they were concerned with for their own business. Here's what they had to say.
Director of Technology Services
"Some of the biggest challenges are mobile and bring-your-own-device computing as well as trying to get up to speed and up to the cloud. [Also,] increased competition and the lowering of the price on things. We're fighting that price competition by trying to set [ourselves] apart from everyone else and make [ourselves] different from all the other people that are ... new and getting into the MSP business. [We differentiate] by trying to offer overwhelmingly awesome service and support and trying to make [ourselves] better in that respect."
"The biggest challenge we're probably facing moving forward is working with our staff to realize that they need to be able to communicate with the clients. I believe the break-fix mentality is going to start to disappear. If you really want to grow, you need to provide solutions and not just be fixing stuff. Also, better communication between my staff and clients and [better] understanding of where they need to learn to be for the future."
"The biggest challenge is going to be using all of the tools that we get as MSPs, and really be able to use them consistently to grow our business, having those employees know how to use the tools on a daily basis. The ones I have chosen have phenomenal support for partners: ConnectWise, Quosal for sales and LabTech for our remote monitoring. They all have very good reputations about handholding, and that's what we need. Time is very limited. We don't make money with employees in our office. Even though you have the recurring revenue with SLAs and such, you still need that handholding and for people to individually be able to contact support is important."
"Our biggest challenge is cloud computing. Our clients are getting more educated and asking for cloud solutions. Retaining those clients, our existing client base, and making that shift to the cloud while maintaining our existing client base and helping them with our direction [is a challenge]. The other big thing is how to make money in the cloud. Our clients look to reduce their costs and complexity. They don't want to manage it. They don't want to maintain it. They just want it to work. We want to be that utility. We have to help them get there because we are their trusted advisors. But, we also have to make money to stay in the business."
EZ Micro Solutions
"2013 will be the year we start branching out to the cloud. That's going to be our big change for next year. The challenge is making that work. That's going to be my main focus: get our offerings up to snuff. Cloud is where everything's going. We've been talking about it for a while. 2013 will be the year to finally execute on it."
Think IT Limited
Auckland, New Zealand
"In New Zealand, the biggest challenge for us is getting clients to understand the managed services platform, to understand what you're offering and the whole all-you-can-eat platform. The transition from break-fix to managed services is big for New Zealand, educating our staff so they can understand the models and educate our clients."
"Our biggest challenge is finding good techs, good engineers to deliver the services. We are always recruiting. We have an active website always looking for new people. We continue to bring in more junior-, entry-level engineers. Our goal is to get long-term engineers that have a commitment to us and also find that talent that is not working in a good environment and bring them on board."
"A challenge is the availability of financing, in wanting to invest in the company. If you're an MSP, you have to invest in the company, particularly as you want to grow or spend money on new productivity tools or try new solutions, or acquisitions. We'd like to acquire some smaller MSPs and blend them into our business. Our banks are not lending as much. Banks also don't understand tech companies. There isn't that actual knowledge in terms of how to assess a good bet in a technology business."
New Dominion Networks
Glen Allen, Va.
"We're trying to develop more of a sales department. Developing a sales group is going to be the biggest challenge. We vet people in to actually sell what our services are. It's easier for a sales person to sell products, but when you talk about selling services, it's more individualized as far as the company goes. Sometimes it's difficult to have salespeople understand what we sell. We're formulating that still. We've got some ideas, and we're still looking at it."
Senior Systems Engineer
K&R Network Solutions
"Our biggest challenge is convincing customers to stay up to date with technology and buying new versions of Windows, replacing their hardware when it's going out of warranty. We'll show them the benefits of keeping up with the hardware warranty for sure. Also putting in backups when necessary in case things go down when the warranty does expire [is a challenge]."
Select IT Services
"Customer budget cuts. Because of the economy, that's what's coming down the next 12 to 24 months. We're figuring on a 20 percent reduction [in customers' IT budgets]. I'm changing my budgets around in case it does happen."
"The biggest challenge is hiring skilled talent and keeping our longtime, skilled staff. We're working right now to retool our hiring process to always be hiring. We're interviewing and recruiting internally even if we don't have a job immediately open. We have a funnel. It's important to keep our funnel of prospects full as much as it is to keep our sales funnel full. On the other side, we're moving into a new building [and] have a lounge and play area and other things to make the team more engaged and give them a happy place to work. We're rebuilding our company culture right now."