Help Wanted: Managed Services Industry Seeks Talent

As consumers and Wall Street continue to worry about the broader U.S. economy, many managed services platform providers remain upbeat about their business prospects heading into the second quarter of 2008.

The latest example: Autotask CEO Bob Godgart says his company is seeking to fill at least 17 positions, and new customer acquisitions in Q1 has continued to increase.

Still, there's no denying that the economy is a key consideration for many VARs going forward. During a recent business trip in Florida, Godgart heard from service providers that were "feeling it a bit" -- i.e., they were beginning to get concerned about the economy.

But economic concerns could also stir greater interest in managed services and business automation platforms.

"People believe that they need automation in their businesses to survive," says Godgart. "If you automate now, you can offer more quality service to your customers and maybe you don't need to hire that next person quite yet" because automation allows solutions providers to scale their businesses without necessarily scaling their payroll, Godgart reasons.

Meanwhile, Autotask continues to ramp up its own business. The company is seeking to fill positions in professional services, customer service, account management, and sales, among other areas.

Other MSP platform providers also continue to hire. N-able, for instance, has increased its staff by 12 percent since January, according to CEO Gavin Garbutt.

And most platform providers are making international pushes into Europe and Australia.

What Could Go Wrong?

Within the MSP industry, anecdotal evidence suggests that sales remain strong. And while MSPmentor remains upbeat, the recent collapse of Bear Stearns proves that no company is invincible. (Here are six lessons from the Bear Stearns Debacle.)

In the MSP space, it's important for solutions providers to continually ask their potential platform partners about their financial viability.

Since most MSP platform providers are privately held, it's somewhat difficult to measure their financial health. Some MSP platform providers will occasionally share anecdotal financial info. But most financial reports don't reveal net income.

Generally speaking, many MSP platform providers are well-funded and growing. But if financial markets remain weak, it could cause some platform providers to delay potential IPOs (initial public offerings) and adjust their monthly cash burn rate.

In the weeks ahead, MSPmentor will continue asking platform providers whether the financial market turbulence has impacted their businesses.

So far, anecdotal evidence from Autotask and other business automation software providers is encouraging. Hiring continues in the MSP software space. That's certainly welcome news amid the broader U.S. economic downturn.

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