IT By Design CEO: ‘MSPs That Will Win Will Have To Do Things Differently’

‘What [MSPs] need to do differently is really assess their workforce and make sure that they have good talent focus in terms of hiring right, training right and developing people right,’ says Sunny Kaila, CEO of IT By Design.


The best way for MSPs to recession-proof their business is to invest in cybersecurity capabilities and build a strong team, according to Sunny Kaila, CEO of Marlboro, N.J.-based IT By Design.

“Cybersecurity product demand is not going down during a recession,” Kaila told CRN. “No one is going to say, ‘Hey, because of a recession, I’m not going be safe and I’m open to all the hackers.”

And when it comes to building a strong workforce, it’s all about making sure every employee is happy and pulling their weight.

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The master MSP’s Team GPS platform is helping with that so that MSPs are not being impacted by so-called quiet quitting.

Team GPS is a software platform that promotes leaders to actively engage with their team members. It centralizes employee engagement and performance management for MSPs looking to promote a people-centric culture in the workplace.

“One of the major challenges partners are facing is that there is just too much vendor noise, too many tools they need, from the talent management point of view.” Kaila said. “They log into all these different tools. The whole vision we have is that we can bring everything into one unified experience.”

CRN recently spoke with Kaila to talk about talent shortages and a potential recession. Check out the tips he has for MSPs on how they can keep their talent, build upon their cyberstack and sustain an economic downturn.

With the economic downturn, do you expect the talent shortage to get worse?

The way we see it is MSPs will continue to grow, even next year, but they’ve got to be doing different things. As they say, ‘Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently.’ MSPs that will win will have to do things differently because of the recession. What they need to do differently is really assess their workforce and make sure that they have good talent focus in terms of hiring right, training right and developing the people right. Bigger MSPs I talk to say, ‘I’m cutting 20 positions. I’m cutting 30 positions.’ There are job cuts happening this quarter but they’re using the recession as a tool. The real reason for cutting the cost is not that they don’t need talent, it is they were putting up with poor performance over the past year. MSPs have to make sure that they focus on strong culture and strong performance because this is not going to be the year when you can carry a lot of unproductive weight. You’ve got to have more muscle on your team. These MSPs that are talking about these positions, they’re not talking about eliminating, they’re talking about optimizing the team by bringing in better talent. MSPs historically have done really well. They are very resilient, especially with the technology demand that keeps growing and will continue to grow during a recession.

Where did IT By Design see the most revenue growth this year?

From a product perspective, cybersecurity is No. 1, like our NOC [Network Operations Center] and SOC [Security Operations Center] combination together. The second product we’re going to continue to see is the talent management lead, which is Team GPS. One strategy that we’re using for next year is more focus on customers and identifying their dangers and seeing how we can help the eliminate their fears of recession. If we can be the solution for the fear, that’s where we are going to really do well.

Where do you think you’ll see the most revenue growth in 2023?

The recession-proofing solutions. It varies with MSPs and their vertical focus. For example, if the majority of their revenue comes from health care, their vertical is recession-proof. Our focus is finding more MSPs where they are serving the vertical which is the most recession-proof.

There’s a lot of talk of turning headwinds into tailwinds to sustain a recession and talent shortages. What’s your take on that? Do you think it will be easy for MSPs to do that?

So MSPs need to be strategic to really use that thinking. For example, cybersecurity, we all know it’s not going down. If they’re not getting a big percentage of their revenue from cybersecurity services, they can use that as a tailwind. MSPs need to be more intentional. Cybersecurity is one perfect example that if they’re not doing enough of it, they have to start building capabilities this quarter so that they can do well in 2023 to use that as a tailwind. They have room to grow. They can build their capabilities, either in-house or partner up with best-in-class cybersecurity capability companies and use that as a tailwind to serve their customers.

What do you think is going to be your biggest challenge in 2023?

The challenges are going to have a little bit of a different flavor because of the economic climate. I have to roll up my sleeves and focus on the three categories that I always focus on, which is your profitability as a business because even if you’re not profitable, you’ve got to be sustainable. That comes from positive cash flow. The second is the talent side. Now is your opportunity to really make sure that if there is a position where talents are not used properly, you should be taking time to understand if someone is not really pulling their weight. Is it a passion issue for their role? Is it that their gifts are not aligned with that role? Is there something else going on in that role? It’s really working with people to make sure that everyone is pulling their weight during a tough economic climate.

The thing that we will be doing different in terms of flavor is really making sure that every team member is pulling their weight. Third is cybersecurity and really focusing on more revenue from cybersecurity. Cash is king during a recession.