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MSP 501 Flashback: Platte River Networks on MSP COVID-19 Response

Platte River reported success in the last five months. Not all MSPs can say the same.

James Anderson

August 19, 2020

4 Min Read
501 Flashback
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COVID-19 has revealed weak spots for many an MSP, says David DeCamillis.

DeCamillis, who serves as Platte River Networks‘ vice president of sales and marketing, says businesses that relied on premises-based products and services suffered greatly during the work-from-home transition.

“During a crisis, that’s when your weaknesses are exposed. A lot of companies were not prepared to move the workforce home,” he told Channel Futures.

A Year Later

We caught up with DeCamillis a year after Platte River won the MSP 501 Vanguard award, which recognizes thought leadership in digital transformation. The Colorado-based MSP won the award due to its Intuition Security+ platform. The platform offers several security services, including network monitoring, DNS filtering and security operations center (SOC).

More recently, the company has been tailoring security solutions for customers that don’t want all of the capabilities. For example, a customer might require only a security operations center (SOC) or end-user training.

“Dealing in the SMB space, a lot of these companies don’t need the whole stack. Initially, we were resistant in breaking the stack up,” DeCamillis said. “But what we found was, it was going to be a lot easier selling it if we could actually take the four or five products and services and adapt them specifically to the customer in need.”

However, DeCamillis said Platte River will likely absorb two of the security offerings into its regular portfolio within a year or two. DeCamillis said the first would likely be single-sign-on and multifactor authentication (MFA), followed by end-user training. Customers would automatically subscribe to the services upon signing with the MSP.

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Platte River Networks’ David DeCamillis

DeCamillis said MFA addresses password breaches and end-user training prevents internal mistakes.

“Ninety-five percent of the breaches are because the employee hits the wrong website, opens the wrong link, downloads the wrong attachment, etc. So by educating them, you greatly reduce the risk,” he said.

Tackling Work-From-Home

The first quarter was Platte River’s biggest ever, despite its overlap with coronavirus. DeCamillis said his team helped 120 customers settle into their home offices in mid-March.

Platte River managed to hit $900,000 in monthly revenue in April, the third best month in the company’s history.

“We saw our ticket volume effectively double, but to see my team step up and get all these home workers working successfully within a week’s time was pretty bad-ass,” he said. “And then seeing my project team step up and help them expand circuits, replace firewalls, build additional remote desktop servers, upgrade licensing, reconfigure firewalls, figure out how to make those crappy home computers work — that was impressive.”

However, the organization did face a sales challenge at the onset of the lockdown.

DeCamillis saw a muted, reduced sales pipeline and diminished lead generation from mid-March until Mid-May. He said he kept producing branding and marketing but shifted his message. The campaign first educated prospective customers about remote work — from transitioning out of the office to providing security to ensuring productivity. The messaging shifted to the benefits of outsourced IT and, finally, asking businesses about their IT performance.

Platte River saw the results when businesses started returning to their offices.

“By shifting our message dramatically and absolutely not selling, we were able to actually close a record number of business in the last 30 days,” DeCamillis said.

Mixed MSP COVID Response

DeCamillis at the time of this interview said he had signed six new customers in the last 30 days. Platte River normally signs two per month. Moreover, four of those customers called after the shelter-in-home orders went into place.

In two of those cases, Platte River replaced another MSP, which failed to perform when COVID-19 struck.

“It’s glaringly obvious. These customers had a bad IT experience during COVID-19,” he said. “They were thinking of making a change prior to COVID, but COVID exposed them, so they had to make a change.”

DeCamillis said an increasing number of large businesses are moving their IT to a third-party. He expects that more companies will circle IT as an area to cut costs and heighten productivity as we enter what could be a full-scale recession.

“During the last recession, the average company that outsourced their entire IT was around 40 employees; at 50-plus, they had an IT staff. Since that recession, I’ve seen that number creep up, and we see more of the 50-150 employees outsource their whole IT. Now we’re starting to see the 100-300,” he said.

In the meantime, MSPs are maintaining their headcount, according to SolarWinds.

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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