MSPmentor recently noted that Best Buy is getting into the remote managed services game. The question then became: How can traditional MSPs best compete with a retail giant that has thousands of Geek Squad "agents" and massive marketing muscle?
I took that very question to LogMeIn, whose namesake product line provides the underlying engine for Best Buy's remote managed services. Here's what they had to say.
LogMeIn, founded in 2005, initially did nothing but provide a free remote desktop application, says Andrew Burton, their VP of products. These days, though, they have a complete line of solutions to help remotely access and monitor anything from desktops to BlackBerry devices.
I won't go through their entire product line, but essentially, if you have a networked device, they have something aimed at helping a service provider extend a VPN to it and access it from anywhere. They don't have a partner program, per se, but Burton says that MSPs are some of their biggest customers since they can build an offering on the LogMeIn platform.
Of special note to MSPs is their $299/year LogMeIn Central, which is a central console to administer LogMeIn services, and LogMeIn Ignition, which provides a remote desktop on an iPhone or an iPod Touch. Burton says he knows one MSP who actually uses Ignition to administer his client's networks while on long bike rides -- the user just logs into his home desktop, does what he needs to, turns it off and keeps going.
Thinking Beyond Tools and TechnologiesSo that brings us back to the original point. If LogMeIn is as powerful and versatile as Burton says, how can MSPs compete when Best Buy is leveraging the exact same technology? Burton says the really competitive services providers shouldn't have to.
Instead, the "[MSPs] competing well," as Burton puts it, are the ones who know their customers inside and out in a way a Best Buy can't or doesn't care to. An MSP, he says, should be able to use experience and a good business relationship to anticipate a customer's IT needs and provide exactly the kind of remote managed services they need.
A Best Buy can't be that flexible, and it's doubtful a successful enterprise can forge any kind of meaningful business relationship with one. You may never get the same Geek Squad agent twice, and you probably can't call them late on a Sunday to log in remotely when your printer won't start.
"A lifeline to the MSP is critical," Burton says.