One of the main reasons the MSP market is booming is because businesses simply don’t have the resources or expertise to manage all their IT needs internally. IT environments have become increasingly complex, requiring more dedicated staff.
I caught up with Ben Strickland, Senior Director of Product Managementat RAY ALLEN, Inc. to talk about what he’s seeing in the MSP space and, specifically how MSPs can leverage this opportunity to grow their businesses. He says the key is in the data – without it, there’s no way for companies or their MSPs to know what they have, what they are using (and what they’re not), and what they need. Here’s what else he had to say about the industry, ALM, and what RAY ALLEN is doing at MSP Expo.
Is there any recent news from your company you would like to highlight?
We are hosting a webinar with TSIA called, “Why Customer Success Fails Right Out of the Box” on June 30th. Here is the registration link.
How have the past two years changed your company?
COVID-19 has been interesting for everybody. RAY ALLEN has taken this opportunity to build the next generation of IT Asset Management tools than can be leveraged by anybody to be able to respond to the resurgence in business while at the same time provide cost-effective data for accurate buying and selling decisions.
What are businesses struggling with that is driving them to seek out MSPs?
They don’t want to deal with it. IT is not their core business, nor should it have to be.
What are the biggest opportunities for MSPs to increase their revenues and profitability?
There is still so much focus on landing the ‘big fish’ that there is still immense opportunity left on the table for the basics. Too much effort with not enough results goes into the basic blocking and tackling of keeping a customer successful, happy, and continuing to buy through renewals.
Where do you see MSPs struggling to meet their customers’ needs effectively?
Garbage in, garbage out. Dealing with customer inventory data in a meaningful way is a daunting task and if it’s not done accurately and quickly and integrated with the customers’ own data, then it leads to disagreements at the most critical part of the sales cycle.
How are you helping overcome those challenges?
RAY ALLEN provides a Unified Source of Truth™ that MSPs can use to converge their view, the vendor’s view, and the customer’s view of the world into something everybody can agree on. Data is the product here, so MSPs should be able to deliver this data to their team and the customer in any way they see fit.
What factors are important for MSPs to consider when choosing which vendors they partner with?
First and foremost, a solution must be easy to sell. Vendors that forget to do this do so at their own peril and set up complications for the MSPs trying to sell the products.
What do vendors need to do to effectively support their MSP partners in today’s market?
Data first, data as a core principle, and data is never the afterthought. Many of today's offers are so complex that without data on what the customer needs, how they are using what they have already purchased, and what is successful or not successful, customer success becomes impossible to truly deliver on. Vendors must treat data as a product, not something they get around to 3-5 years after launch. Those that live in the cloud know this already.
There has been a lot of consolidation in the vendor space serving the MSP market. How does that consolidation impact MSPs?
There will always be cycles of creation and consolidation of vendors in the MSP market. With innovative ideas comes incubation, but once those ideas show market potential then the consolidation begins anew. This is the natural beating heart of the industry.
How big is the IT expertise gap in the MSP space? How can MSPs overcome that gap and what role do vendors play in helping MSP navigate the evolving technology landscape?
The biggest gap I have seen recently is a gap in understanding of how non-desktop licensing models and Enterprise Agreements (EA’s/ELAs) work in the real world. These purchase programs are billed as simplifying the world, but unless you understand the contract obligations, operational tasks necessary, and strategy for optimizing your utilization of the software or services obtained from it, you may find you have more headaches than solutions. With the right combination of tooling and education, you can overcome this hurdle.
We have seen significant changes in work environments and MSPs have been instrumental in supporting that change. Are these changes sustainable in the long term for or at they merely a passing fad? How can MSPs protect their new revenue streams?
While some walk-backs of changes to work environments will surely happen, the trend is here to stay. Companies have learned that the best talent lives and works where they want to, and if they want to have a chance at that talent, they need to provide options in locations where the talent wants to be. The previous fears about decreases in productivity have been disproven and there are now opportunities for increasing productivity. Communications and collaboration technology is now more important than ever before.
Please make one (bold) prediction about the MSP space in general, or your market segment, for the next 6-12 months.
The movement of large vendors, such as Cisco and others, towards Enterprise Agreements (EAs/ELAs) and away from traditional hardware with support-selling models will continue to put stress on traditional buying and selling workflows. MSPs need to invest now in updating these service delivery workflows in order to be successful.
What are you hoping to achieve at MSP Expo? Why should attendees be sure to stop by your booth?
We want to demonstrate how, using our Unified Source of Truth™ as a foundation, MSPs can leverage the data in a way that will benefit both them and their customers. Whether the MSP’s paint points revolve around Enterprise Agreement management, renewal management, software license management, or delivering the best customer experience possible, we have a solution and would love to chat.
What will you be discussing at MSP Expo? Why should your session be on attendees’ must-attend list?
During our panel, we will be discussing how Asset Lifecycle Management can help optimize MSPs’ customers’ IT environments and enable their customers to operate more effectively, eliminate extraneous costs, and reduce IT issues. We will focus on how this, in turn, helps MSPs increase customer satisfaction and generate additional recurring revenue.
Edited by Erik Linask