If you're running for president, you work hard to get major organizations and unions to back your platform. The same strategy is unfolding in the managed services market, where software providers increasingly are working with peer groups and associations to gain a critical mass of interest. The efforts involve everyone from the ASCII Group to HTG Peer Groups to the SMB Technology Network. I believe two things are driving these new relationships...
First, let's start with some basic examples of organizations working with vendors. They include:
- Kaseya is building a specialized SaaS platform to ASCII Group members. Next up, ASCII is partnering with Cetrom Information Technology, Inc. on cloud computing.
- HTG Peer Groups is standardizing on ConnectWise professional services automation software, as we've reported.
- The SMB Technology Network offering a standardized management services platform, built atop Autotask. SMBTN has also has relationships with Reflexion, OwnWebNow, Virtual Administrator, Cloud Services Depot and Speakeasy, "making it possible for SMBTN members to purchase a pre-configured suite of services at a significant discount," the organization says.
So Happy TogetherTwo things are driving these relationships:
1. Differentiation: As the world shifts from products to online services, it's increasingly difficult for associations and organizations to differentiate themselves from one another. VARs and MSPs are looking for value when they open their wallet to join an association. Also, VARs and MSPs want turnkey -- often pre-built -- software packages that are easy to implement within their businesses. Many of these organization-vendor relationships offer such configurations.
2. Economies of Scale: It can be expensive for software providers to market their wares to individual MSPs and VARs. By marketing a solution through an association, organization or peer group, the software provider suddenly reaches a highly targeted audience. The software company's ultimate goal is to convince the organization to standardize on its wares.
Pros and ConsFrom product discounts to specialized configurations, there's plenty of potential upside here for VARs and MSPs. Plus, peer groups or organizations that standardize on a specific product can often share information more easily with one another.
But be sure to ask plenty of questions as these deals/relationships are promoted to you. In some cases, the organization-vendor relationship involves nothing more than a handshake and some publicity, rather than a true value-add for VARs, MSPs and other organization members.
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