Continuum Navigate: MSPs Search for Strategies to Help SMB CustomersContinuum Navigate: MSPs Search for Strategies to Help SMB Customers
Improving IT security for smaller customers and providing education is a focus for many MSPs.
October 17, 2019
CONTINUUM NAVIGATE — From searching for ways to convince SMB customers to increase their IT security defenses to better protect their businesses from cyberattacks to broadening their own service offerings to their customers, more than 300 IT professionals from MSPs across North America are gathering here in Las Vegas to look for answers to some of the biggest IT issues facing their operations today.
The Navigate 2019 conference, sponsored by Continuum, an IT platform built for MSPs that lets them serve their end-user SMB customers with a variety of managed services and support, outlined the company’s progress in adding managed security services to its offerings in 2017 and laid out its plans to help MSPs get their SMB customers to adopt deeper security protections.
Those goals were certainly on the minds of several MSPs who spoke with Channel Futures about their reasons for attending the conference and for finding out more about Continuum’s plans to help them grow their revenue while better protecting their SMB customers.
Greystone’s Peter Melby
“The MSP and IT services spaces are moving faster now than ever,” said Peter Melby, CEO of Denver-based Greystone Technology, a 95-employee MSP business that has been serving SMBs as a longtime partner of Continuum. “Security is a critical issue now more than ever. And there’s a significant talent gap, which we face too, and which means we can’t do as much internally so we need partners to help us more.”
That’s where Continuum fits as a valued partner because the company provides a wide range of managed services from security to help desk to remote monitoring and management, as well as complete infrastructure and support, that allows MSPs to help customers without having to have their own huge infrastructure, said Melby.
“I’m here to connect with people in the industry who have a view of what’s coming,” he said. “From what we’ve seen, customers are willing to spend the money on security but IT hasn’t been influential on where to spend the money. The problem that we see is that MSPs are not convincing their clients to spend the money, even though the clients are willing to spend it.”
Also key to his visit to the conference was Melby’s desire to learn more about how his company can be more influential with its SMB customers by better educating them about the need for IT security, even when a business is small. Continuum’s new Certify certification program, which launched recently, provides a wide range of cybersecurity training for MSPs, as well as targeted training to provide best practices for selling IT security services to SMBs.
“That’s a huge benefit” to have such training from a partner, said Melby.
Melby said that by partnering with Continuum to provide services to its SMB customers that it reduces Greystone’s need to find workers with specific IT skills, such as security, RMM, incident response and backup.
“With the staff that we do have our focus is on making us the most desirable place to work in our area and industry. We are very deliberate about our company culture. We try to create a place where we’re focused on treating our employees like capable adults and letting them work with autonomy.”
eTrepid’s Sean Bubeck
“You get a lot more dedicated insights into the tools from Continuum,” said Bubeck. “Especially with the in-depth dive into the improvements they have made. More importantly for me, being so front-facing to corporate clients and prospects, I gained a lot of verbiage and stories to share about how to better relay the importance of IT security for customers.”
Bubeck said he expects that every business at some point will encounter and endure some sort of cyberbreach and that’s a key message he will try to communicate with customers.
“The things you do beforehand to reduce the impacts and expedite your recovery processes can largely be the difference between staying in business after an attack or finding a new career,” he said. “We keep seeing this in the small business realm.”
Another MSP attendee, Todd Petersen, a managed IT specialist for Arvig, which provides MSP and ISP services in Minnesota, said that working as a Continuum partner for the last six years has allowed his company to …
… grow its SMB customer base without having to build its own expensive infrastructure or hire IT staffers to provide those specialized capabilities.
“They provide the back-end support that would require us to hire many qualified staff members for us to fulfill,” said Petersen. “It allows us to resell services with less actual staff because Continuum provides the support.”
Petersen, who serves on Continuum’s service delivery council and offers his insights about what offerings the company should provide in the future, said most of Arvig’s customers are small, rural operations that employ fewer than 50 people.
Helping Arvig customers learn more about the need for deeper IT security services was one of his missions for attending the conference, he said.
“The newest push has been for security, but in rural Minnesota, many customers still think that antivirus is enough,” he said. “We’ve had customers that have gotten attacked by ransomware and they still don’t want extra security even after that. They don’t want to pay for it and don’t think they need it. They think it was a freak thing that won’t happen again.”
Those beliefs are tough to change, he said.
“The biggest challenge in the managed IT services industry today is customer education — educating the customers on what they need and that it’s not free but it will save them money in the future,” said Petersen.
Keno Kozie’s Greg Langosch
“Our tool set is just antiquated” when it comes to serving the company’s customers, said Langosch. “It’s just not kept up with the business needs, so we have gaps I’m looking to fill.”
Those needs brought Langosch to the event to eye Continuum as a potential partner to help solve those IT shortcomings, including a ticketing system for managed services and engineering requirements, and a product that would provide monitoring and management of infrastructure devices and alerts, he said.
What he’s also seeking is a patch management system, which is something his company has never had before.
“We use human power and it’s horrible,” he said. “We’re looking for a system to do it. Automation will change the way we do things.”
Langosch said he is exploring Continuum to provide various services, as well as investigating other vendors.
“I definitely wanted to take a look at Continuum because of their breadth of their offerings,” he said. “That really is the crux of my visit. To want to learn about not just the tools, but about the ecosystem around those tools.”
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