If you still doubt the power -- and influence -- of peer groups then check out a recent announcement involving CompTIA and HTG Peer Groups. The relationship is the latest indication that big associations and vendors see peer groups -- comprising VARs and MSPs -- as fertile ground for growth. Here's why.
The CompTIA-HTG relationship, announced Dec. 15, 2009, involves a simple relationship:
HTG members have the opportunity to join CompTIA as an associate member for one year for just $49. Associate membership gives them access to a wide range of networking opportunities, educational programs, certification and accreditation options, research and other CompTIA programs and services.CompTIA is one of the world's largest IT associations, with a big following in the IT channel. HTG Peer Groups provides a forum for VARs and MSPs to meet privately, compare their business performance and share best practices.
Behind the ScenesNow the bigger picture: I believe associations and vendors are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit VARs and MSPs "one at a time." By reaching out to peer groups, vendors and associations can cast a wider net -- potentially recruiting dozens of new partners into their respective programs. The peer group members, in turn, typically gain economies of scale: Such as pricing discounts or education discounts from vendor partners.
In 2009, we saw multiple examples of peer group-related initiatives. As we've previously mentioned:
- Kaseya is building a specialized SaaS platform for ASCII Group members.
- HTG Peer Groups is standardizing on ConnectWise professional services automation software, as we’ve reported.
- The SMB Technology Network is 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.
- MSP Services Network, which is set to be acquired, is working with ASCII Group.
- Taylor Business Group is building peer groups for Autotask and N-able customers, respectively.
Balancing ActThe vendor-peer group relationships have plenty of upside for both parties. But the relationships also require a careful balancing act. In recent months, some peer group members have expressed a key concern to me: As peer groups become more involved with vendors, do the groups risk getting distracted from their original missions?
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