Consumer Electronics Show: More Mobile Clues for MSPs?

Where will the managed services industry head next? Ironically, some clues may emerge at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2011), set for January 6-9 in Las Vegas. I concede: My eyes often glaze over when pundits talk about the "consumerization of IT." But in many cases, I have to admit: Consumer products -- and mobile consumer endpoints -- will greatly influence the managed services market going forward. Here's why.

Spend some time at any managed services conference, and you'll see MSPs carrying iPads as their default not-taking device. But this is more than an iPad story. Google Android tablets are popping up from a range of vendors. Folks like Motorola have launched viral videos ahead of CES. And Microsoft will deliver its latest tablet initiative at CES.

Can I Charge for This Stuff?

Meanwhile, MSPs are trying to get their arms around mobile opportunities and challenges. During the N-able Partner Summit in October 2010, I heard MSPs debate multiple approaches to managing multiple devices. The key sticking point: How to bill for mobile device management: Per user, per device or some other approach? At that same conference session, several MSPs described their VIP and concierge services -- designed for home networks, and offered to the CEOs within key end-customer organizations. Most of those concierge services focused on mobile devices used by a CEO's family.

The story doesn't end there. MSP software providers -- virtually all of the major RMM (remote monitoring and management) and PSA (professional services automation) companies -- are extending their software onto mobile devices. Autotask Founder Bob Godgart, who is shifting to a chief visionary officer role, shared some mobility thoughts toward the end of this MSPmentor FastChat video:

Meanwhile, ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini has been calling on MSPs and VARs to grab hold of SMB endpoints -- everything from printers to IP phones to notebooks and smart phones. The reason: As more applications potentially shift to the cloud, solutions providers can maintain deep customer relationships by holding tight to SMB infrastructure.

But how will that infrastructure potentially evolve over the next few years? The answers will likely emerge at CES 2011.

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