Managed Services User Groups: Joining In?

Rewind a decade or two, and it was commonplace for IT administrators to join user groups -- especially since we were all trying to learn the ins and outs of Windows, Mac OS and even OS/2. Fast forward to the present and MSP user groups seem to be popping up across the globe. But will MSPs keep sharing information as competition heats up?

First, I must concede that I'm using the term "MSP user group" loosely. Companies like ConnectWise have been navigating the globe striving to help IT Nation (ConnectWise's term for IT channel members) to network and share best practices. It's safe to expect more ConnectWise gatherings in early 2010, according to the company's Twitter feed.

ConnectWise isn't alone. A growing list of PSA (professional services automation) and RMM (remote monitoring and management) companies are launching user groups for their customers -- which range from VARs to integrators to full-blown MSPs. User groups seem to be popping up across North America, Europe and Australia. And many of the major MSP software providers are marching forward with established partner and user conferences.

But I wonder: How will MSPs prioritize their time in 2010 and just how much information will they share within user groups?

No doubt, peer groups like HTG and those organized by Taylor Business Group inspire information sharing. And organizations -- from ASCII Group to CompTIA to MSPAlliance -- are hosting regional and national events to help MSPs get educated.

Now here's the twist: I'm starting to hear from a few MSPs who want to do a little less talking at managed services events. The reason: The market is getting a bit more competitive. First-mover MSPs certainly shared a lot of best practices with market followers over the past year or two. I wonder if that spirit of information sharing will continue.

I hope it does. Industries move forward when thought leaders share best practices.

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