Why MSPs need to collaborate to succeed

Managed services providers (MSPs) have had to evolve their business models over the years to get to where they are today. We've seen the shift from break/fix to more complete managed services, and most recently, the establishment of full-on managed security services providers (MSSPs). Here, Mike Cullen, Vice President, Customer Experience and Business Strategy, SolarWindsMSP argues that MSPs need to start embracing new models of working based on collaboration if they are to successfully navigate today's IT landscape.

In a world where we are living with more connected 'things,' being a successful MSP is becoming increasingly difficult. It's not only necessary to have a broader understanding of the IT landscape as MSPs become responsible for managing more devices and offering more services, they also need to be increasingly business-savvy, ensuring they are marketing themselves effectively and running a profitable business.

In times of change, it is only natural for MSPs to wonder how their peers handle and overcome these technological and business challenges. What backup solutions do other MSPs have in place to protect their clients, as well as themselves? How do other MSPs talk to customers about migrating away from legacy systems? And how do MSPs use marketing to get prospects into the sales funnel?

A lot of MSPs don't collaborate with one another to help navigate through these changes-despite the fact that sharing their expertise and top tips will allow MSPs to support their peers and enable everyone to succeed. 

Whether an MSP is a one-person shop, or a powerhouse with hundreds of employees, there is an opportunity for all MSPs, of all shapes and sizes, to excel in today's evolving market. An MSP that specializes in security and describes itself as an MSSP isn't going to displace a traditional MSP. Both of these types of MSP are invaluable and demonstrate their value in different ways.

A traditional MSP acts as the CIO for the business, managing and deploying the patching and configuration of devices, ultimately acting as the IT department. An MSSP, on the other hand, is solely focused on security, ensuring that devices and networks are secure and that the right protection and detection capabilities are in place.

Each MSP will be different-they will be at different stages in their business lifecycle, have different offerings, different goals, and have different clients. But many will share similar challenges. How does an MSP starting out accelerate its growth? When should an MSP hire more technicians? How do you identify the 'perfect' client? How do you have discussions with clients around security?

Ultimately, MSPs need to share their pearls of wisdom more-especially if they are to navigate a landscape that is going to get increasingly complex. Collaboration isn't something to be afraid of either. As the saying goes, 'a problem shared is a problem halved,' and if MSPs can use their peers' advice to drive their business and provide value to their customers, then collaboration is most certainly a friend, not a foe.

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