N-able CEO: ‘The Rallying Cry For 2024 Is Transformation’

‘You can have the market transform, which results in you being on your heels because then you’re forced to react to what’s going on in the market. Or you can take it to market and be a little more on your toes,’ N-able CEO John Pagliuca tells MSPs at the N-able Empower conference.


To keep up with an ever-changing market and maintain a competitive edge, MSPs must always be looking to the future, and to market indicators, to transform their business.

That was that resounding message from N-able CEO John Pagliuca at the N-able Empower conference in Frisco, Texas, this week. Pagliuca, CEO of Burlington, Mass.-based N-able, sat down with Robert Wilburn, the company’s vice president of partner growth, to speak to a room of 500 MSPs about transformation.

“When I think about transformation, it’s having a deliberate focus on driving some change to some type of trajectory,” Pagliuca said. “If the rate of change outside of the four walls, meaning the industry or your competitive landscape, is going faster than the rate of change inside of your four walls, the end is there.”

And with that comes a rallying cry, which he said is about building a team that’s based on trust.

[Related: N-able CEO: GenAI Is ‘The Next Evolutionary Step’]

“A rallying cry is the central priority for business, no matter what your function is or what geography you’re in, to really drive some focus and improvement in the business,” he said. “For us, the rallying cry for 2024 is transformation.”

What MSPs are looking for is not just a vendor that can provide them security offerings or services but a partner to help them and their customers be resilient, he said.

There are three areas to the transformation: who MSPs are going after, what they’re transforming their services to, and how they will go to market.

In terms of who MSPs are going after, Pagliuca said there is an uptick in MSPs approaching Fortune 1000 companies and selling into midmarket and larger customers, “What that means is that the persona you’re now talking to needs to be a little bit different.”

When it comes to transforming services, he said MSPs need to think about how they need to reallocate some of their resources.

“You might need to be attracting a different type of technician or a different technical set of expertise. You might need to change sales and marketing folks,” he said.

“How are you thinking about transforming your business and using different levers to get into some of these customers with different types of services that you’re providing?” he added.

Another way to offer more services is through co-management.

“We’re seeing a lot more co-partnering, a lot of times in the areas of security,” he said. “You might not feel like you have the resources or the skill set, or really even the desire to go build a SOC [Security Operations Center], as an example. What we’re seeing is an MSP is able to transform by leveraging the ‘how to the deliver on this’ and partnering for services.”

It also matters when an MSP transforms, which can determine if they’re on top of market changes or playing catch-up.

“You can have the market transform, which results in you being on your heels because then you’re forced to react to what’s going on in the market,” he said. “Or you can take it to market and be a little more on your toes.”

There are a few indicators that MSPs can watch for that make for a good time to transform, such as customer acquisition slowdown, a decrease in revenue-per-employee ratio and an increase in overhead costs.

It’s also important to automate, standardize and augment as much as possible, he said.

“Standardize the way you want to market and standardize your business processes, your SLAs, your contracts, all those different elements. Reduce that service area and help accelerate, which allows better transformation,” Pagliuca said.

Chris Nicholson, vice president of managed services at South Bend, Ind.-based MSP Aunalytics, believes in the mindset of “what got you here won’t get you there.”

“It’s a different play. It’s a different thing,” he told CRN. “You can't just get wider; you have to get bigger. John was reinforcing some of that, which I think is important.”

Pagliuca’s talk reminded him that it’s important not to get stuck on trying to “build a thing if it’s just an impediment to you get to making the next move. Back up a little: What’s the important next move? Can you partner your way out of that?”