May 19, 2014
By AVG Guest Blog
For more than a decade, the managed service provider (MSP) market has been constantly evolving. Once the sole province of career IT professionals, the MSP sector today is changing. As margins in businesses such as break-fix computer solutions, office supplies and printer consumables decline, these businesses have increasingly repositioned themselves as services providers in order to to secure their long-term future and hold on to their valuable customers. This is one of the key reasons why the MSP market is thriving, having grown by 13 to 16 percent to reach US$60-65 billion in the past few years.
This influx of newcomers is benefiting from a new generation of cloud-based remote management suites. With their emphasis on centralization of services delivery and much deeper levels of integration between toolsets, they are helping to simplify many management processes. It means support engineers can often dispense with some of the more intricate, time-consuming tasks, such as deploying their own advanced remote administration or complex scripting tools on site.
For MSPs, the pressure is on to find the right vendor partner the first time. They quite literally cannot afford to get it wrong. One of the key benefits of using cloud services is rapid deployment. This often means any deficiencies only emerge after the services have been deployed to customers. And when things go wrong, customers naturally hold responsible the MSP that recommended the service to them – not the vendor.
In my view, the top six characteristics that make a good vendor partner are:
1. Quality of service and support – both partner-facing and those in the back office responsible for managing cloud service reliability and continuous uptime. Be sure they are quickly available by phone and email, and allow easy access to management in case of serious issues with your product or relationship.
2. Simple to deploy and use –a vendor’s cloud services application suite needs to work well with your other services. It should reduce complexity, not add to it.
3. Centralized services management via a single, integrated pane of glass – check your vendor is dedicated to giving you the clearest possible integrated view of your customers’ networks.
4. It’s not just about price – a great price does not make a great service. There are several factors that far outweigh the price tag of a key application that drives your business. Many MSPs too easily fall into a price trap.
5. Growing and enthusiastic partner community – take a look at their partner forum. What is their track record in listening to their partner community? Does it come across as a priority?
6. Open approach to working with third-party products – are they publicly committed to working cooperatively with third-party vendors, including competitors? Or, will they try to force you to adopt their cloud services platform?
In summary, most tools and platforms offered today are robust and mature. The best products powered by the best vendor partnerships are the ones that will lead to improved productivity and profits and in turn happier and healthy customer environments, which drives retention and more customer referrals. And, that’s what we all want!
Luke Walling is the Vice President of Sales and Operations at AVG North America, overseeing all aspects of channel engagement from sales to technical support. He joined AVG in June 2010 through an acquisition of his business, Walling Data, which focused on value-added distribution of products and services to the Channel and to non-competitive end user segments, as well as a locally-focused MSP and Break/Fix businesses. Since Walling has been both a channel reseller as well as vendor, he has unique insights into the needs of the customers he serves. Walling believes that providing top-notch customer and technical support is the key to successful partnerships.
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