From The Expert Feature Article
October 22, 2015

3 Tips to Help MSPs Embrace - And Thrive On - Technology Change

By Special Guest
Rob Rae , Vice President of Business Development, Datto

Like any other company, MSPs run the risk of becoming stagnant. It’s natural, to an extent, for success to breed some complacency. Technology never rests, though. The solutions and services MSPs manage and sell change constantly, so as to keep up with the ever evolving changes their customers are experiencing. Think about how things have changed for solution providers specifically. Today, it’s a services game, and companies are pivoting daily to keep up. This innovation-selling approach lets MSPs become true business partners with their customers, who are looking to them for guidance and 24/7 customer service. However, it’s not an easy road to manage this kind of shift. Avoiding this fate in the future doesn’t just mean having great partners now and selling the solutions companies need in 2015. MSPs need to know what’s coming, learn new skills and then impart this knowledge to their clients to help them feel comfortable with, pursue and embrace change.

Here are three ways MSPs can help their teams embrace change and stay ahead of the technology curve:  

Make change part of employees’ jobs

When people get comfortable in their jobs, there’s a tendency to develop processes and stick to them rigorously. Technologies that are part of those processes can become obsolete pretty quickly, though. A great lesson I’ve learned from some of the most successful people in technology is to ask yourself one question: If we were starting today, would we do our jobs this way? Just because something works doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it. There’s always room for growth and improvement, always a new solution or other technology that can make some aspect of work simpler. MSPs can foster a companywide culture of accepting and managing change by building it into employees’ job descriptions. Demand that engineers spend a portion of their time every week trying new software. Tell your sales team to tinker with their weekly meetings or quarterly reporting methods. When managers see this kind of activity as part of their ongoing activities, teams learn to accept it and identify ways to leverage change for the best.

Image via Shutterstock

Take chances

Recently, I heard from Terry Jones, the founder of Kayak, about innovating and moving forward as a professional and as a business. One piece of advice that stood out to me was that 20 percent of everything you do should be something you’re trying for the first time. Kayak, he said, pursues this philosophy by making sure that 20 percent of the features and tools on its website are trials. According to Jones, this constant state of innovation comes with some failure, but more importantly, it keeps his team members on their toes. They’re constantly trying to develop new features to improve the user experience and adjusting what doesn’t work or could work better.

Risks are something that every business needs to take. Whether that’s through a new partnership or looking into new technologies to integrate into a portfolio, taking chances also keeps employees engaged. For any company, culture is something that can define success. Employees want to make money, of course, but they can do that anywhere. MSPs that encourage their teams to take chances by pursuing something they’re interested in get employees who want to fight for their companies. They know their time and expertise are valued by their employers. And it’s not always a success. Sometimes, a project is going to fail. Even if it costs the company some time and money, as long as you do it in a controlled and safe manner, celebrate the experience by focusing on what the team learned. Businesses need to be agile and proactive as markets shift. Employees that have experience dealing with failing fast and quickly moving forward are prepared to accept change quickly.

Spend time out of the office

No matter how much anyone likes his or her job, spending day after day in a cubicle or at a desk isn’t easy. There’s opportunity for employees to learn outside of their offices. Mandate that employees spend a few days every month or quarter at tradeshows or engaged in some form of professional development. The time spent out of the office keeps them fresh and puts them in positon to see what else is going on in their industry. Every business needs to have microscope and telescope viewpoints. The microscope is the narrow focus that employees need to do their day-to-day work and get things done. On the other end, the telescope view is the broader focus that gives employees a chance to see what else is going on in the industry and where they can improve. Moreover, by seeing the industry from a wider perspective, they can identify new opportunities to improve their work to add value to the company.

The smallest changes can help MSPs stay in front of the industries in which they work. By creating a dynamic culture that is responsive to change, but also able to stay in front of market shifts, MSPs can avoid stagnation that can hurt the company. As new technologies emerge, customers are going to ask questions. MSPs need to evolve constantly to stay in position to serve customers best and differentiate from competitors. When you prepare your team to embrace and accept change, your company will always be ahead of the game.

Rob Rae is vice president of business development at Datto, where he leads efforts to help the company’s channel partners grow their businesses. He also oversees Partner Development, Partner Programs, Training, and the annual Datto Partner Conference. With more than 25 years of channel sales and B2B activities, Rae has extensive experience in IT hardware and software sales with value-added resellers, managed service providers and other channel-focused organizations. Prior to working with Datto, Rae has built successful sales teams with a variety of organizations including Level Platforms, Compaq and HP. Rae was named as one of MSPmentor’s Top 250 people shaping the global managed services market the last four years running; and was named as a CRN Channel Chief in 2015 and 2014. He is an Executive Board member at both ASCII and CompTIA (News - Alert).

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere