TruMethods Schnizzfest: Five Questions Worth Asking

I'm heading to TruMethods Schnizzfest -- a conference that will attract roughly 150 MSPs -- later today. As you may recall, TruMethods is a consulting firm that helps MSPs with sales and business development. But off stage I'll be poking around and asking at least five key questions about the managed services industry. Here they are...

1. Growth Rates?: How fast are attending MSPs growing? And for the highest-growth MSPs, which sales and marketing strategies are working best?

2. Buyers?: Sure, plenty of MSPs are looking to sell their businesses. But who's actually in a buying mood? And for those that are looking to make acquisitions: What types of valuations and earn-outs are typical?

3. Same Geography Different Markets?: Can multiple MSPs compete in the same geography without really competing with one another? Let me give you a potential example: I believe White Glove Technologies and HEIT (through its Simpler-Webb acquisition) both have major footprints in Texas. But I think White Glove is more of a horizontal player while HEIT focuses on financial services customers. So, are we seeing powerful MSPs live in harmony because they don't really compete head on?

4. Do You Care?: Microsoft Office 365 launches June 28. I think many end-customers are looking forward to the cloud suite. But I sense that many MSPs are indifferent. Lots of MSPs grew up as Microsoft channel partners. But is Microsoft still strategic to those MSPs going forward?

5. Pricing Models: Seems like the old managed PC and managed server model is a commodity. Last week, masterIT President and CTO Gary Wiseman told me his company sells "end user experience." So, what services are included in the end-user experience? And are MSPs starting to position themselves as virtual CIOs for a flat monthly fee? I'll poke around at Schnizzfest for more thoughts.

6. Bonus: Partner Program Coming?: Google will launch Chromebooks for Business on June 15.  The Chromebooks, from Samsung and Acer, run Chrome OS and integrate closely with Google Apps. The Chromebooks for Business strategy is a pure IT as a service (all hardware and software) for $28 per user per month in business, or $20 per user per month in schools. Google SMB Channel Lead Jeff Ragusa will be at Schnizzfest, and I'll be sure to ask if Google has any updated thoughts on whether Chromebooks for Business will involve a channel play.

That's all for now. MSPmentor will be back with live coverage of the conference for the next couple of days.

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