Sherweb’s New COO On GMS Acquisition And MSP Scaling Plans

‘What’s more on the critical path of Sherweb’s success right now is just we’re zeroing down on our clients, what they need, what helps them grow and what helps them be successful,’ says Alain Brisson, chief operating officer of Sherweb.

How Sherweb’s New COO Alain Brisson Plans To Elevate The Company

Sherweb’s new Chief Operating Officer Alain Brisson is looking to scale the Canada-based cloud provider to the next level while at the same time providing MSPs with more offerings and services.

As the new COO, Brisson is focusing on Sherweb’s customer base by leveraging his more than 25 years of experience in technology, telecommunications and business process outsourcing working for the likes of telecommunications giant Bell and consulting firm CGI.

“My objective is just to scale [Sherweb] up, to get this even to the next degree. It’s really about scaling with our channel partners,” said Brisson in an interview with CRN. “We are growing this portfolio very quickly, we’re investing a lot in there and we’re going to be continuously rolling out new, functionalities and services around security.”

In an interview with CRN, Brisson talks what he brings to the Sherweb table, what the company’s recent acquisition of Global Mentoring Solutions (GMS) adds for channel partners, and his MSP growth plans ahead.

What brought you to Sherweb? What value do you hope to bring?

It’s really the opportunity. Sherweb has been around for 22 years, which I think is already a testament that they found a great way to follow the market and create value and grow. There’s a lot of growth here. Their client focus and their values, I’ve always been a fan from a distance.

The outcome I’m trying to achieve or contribute to is mainly twofold. Number one, make sure that we continue to broaden our client and partner base, really grow the business. My objective is just to scale this up, to get this even to the next degree. It’s really about scaling with our channel partners.

Equally important is also to be able to expand our offerings­ to bring value to the MSPs. We distribute offerings, we have proprietary offerings as well. A big part of my role is to help us continue to build that value that we also bring to the partner. So grow it and bring more value to them, that’s really my focus.

Security is top of mind for all partners and their clients. We already are having some very good success with [Microsoft] Office protect which is the first suite of offerings. We are growing this portfolio very quickly, we’re investing a lot in there and we’re going to be continuously rolling out new functionalities and services around security.

Under the theme of being more value-added for partners to their end clients, another area will also be around service management. Be it ITSM type of services, so through our C2 offering we’re helping them fill in the void there and help our partners leverage ITSM tools. This way they got a little bit more robust capabilities to scale and support their own clients.

What does Sherweb’s recent acquisition of GMS add for your MSPs?

The acquisition was announced on March 31. We’ve acquired GMS which is basically a white label support organization. This will be another way for us to be able to complement some of our partners and offer them this ability to scale through white label support, which is often a challenge. It’s a challenge due to extended hours and just sometimes just brute capacity, just being able to scale from their respective number of resources and so on. That’s a little bit of the overarching theme that we’re trying to do, so bring capabilities but also just capacity as well.

We’ve always been in a small and medium space and I think that ecosystem is still very big, so there’s still a very significant amount of growth potential for us there.

What is Sherweb’s market differentiation against your competitor Pax8?

What’s more on the critical path of Sherweb’s success right now is just we’re zeroing down on our clients, what they need, what helps them grow and what helps them be successful. There’s a very significant amount of work for us there. I think the competitive profile is very diverse.

Clients have a lot of options, partners have a lot of options. They can combine on support and services from different vendors. Obviously we’re trying to be as comprehensive and all-encompassing as possible. The focus so much right now, and maybe if we speak again in a year I’ll give you a different answer or something a little bit more elaborate, but right now it really is on the dynamics between us and the client and the value we bring there. Just that is enough work for us to make sure we stay on top of things as they evolve very, very quickly.

What is Sherweb’s special sauce?

It’s not necessarily a single thing, it’s a combination of four elements in no specific order. The first one is really around our expertise. We didn’t go to cloud because cloud was coming, we were there very early. We saw it coming. This allowed us to always be in the forefront of expertise. When we say we bring this expertise, I’d say we translate that expertise into these two of our four big pillars.

To differentiate, the first one is on the day-to-day to help‑presales, post sales, whatever kind of activities our MSPs have with their end clients and be able to really support them so therefore we become an extension of them.

The other one, this is more on a case-by-case, client-by-client case. is really helping them more broadly with their strategy. One thing I think is very unique and that we’re going to continue to really harp on is the fact that we also help them with their strategies, go to market strategies, how to make sure they’re well equipped, how to make sure they have the right plan, that they focus on the right clients and so on.

Really being an extension of not just their sales pursuits, but really their go-to-market strategies. Everything’s about productivity, so everything around operational effectiveness and really making sure that we help them with the discrete services, making sure their business is hum right through the billing, all the automation, all of these kinds of things. These things are just required today.

You want to make sure your people are really focusing on what’s important, so their end clients and helping them to be productive is really important.

Last but not least is really about the marketplace that we have. We have a very interesting combination. We distribute some of the big brands and great offerings that are out there, but also we complement them with a lot of our own solutions on top of it. We’re just broadening that marketplace for our partners. The combination of these items really keep us on the forefront and very relevant for clients.

What should your partners be doing in the second half of 2021 to drive growth or increase customer synergies?

The growth is opening up a lot of opportunities out there for MSPs. One of the things that brings is looking at it saying, ‘Where do I focus? What do I do?’

One of the items which is really important is the MSPs end clients, have a lot of dynamics to manage with their own business. The opportunity this creates for MSPs opens up the door for them to bring a whole lot more value to their clients. They’re able to go beyond just making products and services accessible to the client. They’re becoming more of the service provider for their clients. They’re way more than just the extension of the function, if you will.

They’re becoming, and rightfully so, the IT function more and more. That spectrum is moving a lot to the MSPs, I think that’s a great opportunity. But that comes with responsibility because if you’re an MSP and you want to bring more value and you want to make sure that you have great stewardship on the security posture of your clients, that also comes with accountability.

You’ve got to make sure that you really bring the best consulting to their clients, that you really know their business, that you’re able to articulate what they would need and then deliver it to them. There’s a really significant context behind it which is getting closer, getting deeper with your clients but also with the added accountability that comes with that too.

Does the COVID-19 pandemic change anything for MSPs?

The pandemic brought everybody online in one way, shape or form, or forcing them to. When you think about it, it’s such a deep amount of change. The MSPs also get drawn into that. It creates great opportunity. It brings them, and brings us by association, into completely new territory where we’re deeper in the business, closer to the business.

This changes the whole classic model of what functions were internally versus which ones were externally. We’re evolving over time in a very large enterprise. This is becoming more and more the norm in the SMB space, so therefore the MSPs are also greatly influenced and impacted by this trend. It’s great because it just shows how mission critical their role is with everything else that comes with it.