Can a single visionary transform a solutions provider into a managed service provider? Or does it take multiple executives -- each, with different talents -- to build a thriving managed services business?
Before you answer, consider the situation at Computer Network Solutions LLC, a fast-growing MSP in Plainview, N.Y., that now manages more than 200,000 customer devices,
During a trip to CNS last week, I toured the company's network operation center (NOC), service and support center, and emergency product inventory for customers who need replacement parts. Imagine a min-EDS command center merged with a mini-CDW product warehouse, and you have a snapshot of CNS's headquarters. (Side note: Thanks to Business Development Manager Jim Beirne for arranging my visit.)
CNS President Alan Cook launched the company in 1997 as a break/fix maintenance services business. While Cook continues to provide company vision, Chief Operating Officer Thomas Montoya transforms Cook's vision into day-to-day goals and strategies.
In recent years, the company has successfully lined up some big-name customers -- including a major restaurant chain and a major retailer. And Montoya has helped CNS master new MSP tools, including a remote administration platform.
Two Leaders, One DestinationThe more I spoke with Montoya, the more I realized we were on parallel journeys. He and Cook have vastly different talents, but together they are striving to build one of the East Coast's top MSPs. I doubt Cook or Montoya could build such a company on their own.
The situation is similar at MSPmentor. While I focus on content, content and more content, my business partner (Amy Katz) works overtime on business development and financial management.
Frankly, I'm not sure how any Web 2.0 or MSP business can thrive with a solo leader. But perhaps I'm biased because of my own experience.
Is it possible for a single mind to build, advance and lead a managed services company? Or does it take a combination of leaders with complementary talents?