How to Thrive in an MSP 2.0 World: Increasing Growth, Margins, and Customer Loyalty

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In last month’s blog, I outlined how rapidly changing SMB client requirements are reshaping the MSP Market.  These demands to broaden MSPs’ service portfolio, combined with downward pricing pressure from increased competition, are squeezing operating margins and reducing the overall profitability of an MSP’s business.

The MSP world is changing fast, with new technologies, new competition and ever-changing market forces, pushing MSPs towards their next phase of evolution. Kaseya calls this next phase MSP 2.0, since it is a natural extension of the MSP 1.0 phase that emerged after the Break/Fix era.

New MSP Growth Opportunities and New Challenges

The new MSP 2.0 environment creates both new growth opportunities and new challenges for MSPs.

Overall, the rate of consumption of MSP services by SMBs is expected to grow annually over 45% year over year for the next several years, representing a global market opportunity approaching $75 BILLION USD per year by 2020.

However, while the opportunities are clear and overwhelming for the MSP market as a whole, individual MSPs must each adapt to these changing market dynamics or risk falling behind.

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Repair a Dead Machine Remotely – Without Driving Onsite

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IT techs – whether working at MSPs or in internal IT Ops groups – have long faced a miserable task:  physically visiting PCs and other devices that are dead by hard drive failure. In these cases, you must pack up your kit, head out to the site and see what can be done.  Depending on where you work, this can be called a truck roll, man-in-the-van work, or just plain wasted time that you would rather spend doing other work.

Each of these visits can take hours, and often technicians find themselves going back and forth from the site location and the main office to gets parts or new bits of software to solve the problem.

What if you could sit at your console in a comfortable chair with a cup of coffee, and repair that hard drive right then and there – in minutes?  What if this wasn’t just an edge use case, but you could essentially eliminate going on site to fix laptops, kiosks and PCs that are no longer responsive?  What if you could say goodbye to what MSPs sarcastically refer as “windshield time”?

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Stand Out From the MSP Crowd by Building a Brand

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There are well over 40,000 MSPs in North America, and thousands of VARS every year are moving to service fattening those numbers further.

In some geographies, MSPs are stepping on each other’s toes. Branding for MSPs has always been important, but there wasn’t always great different ion between providers. Now, however, providers are evolving to adapt to an MSP 2.0 environment and looking to attain Trusted Advisor status. If you play these two cards right, there is plenty of differentiation to crow about.

When managed services were more a commodity, many deals were won by price alone. You could get away without a strong distinctive brand. At the same time, players with known names got more sales meetings and came away with more deals.
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The No-Fail Guide to Becoming a Trusted Advisor

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You may think Trusted Advisor is a trite phrase. In fact, some think we should retire the term altogether. But as an MSP there is nothing wrong with being trusted or engaged as an advisor. So forget about whether you love or hate the term and just embrace the concept.

In a blog last month we talked about why you should think about being a Trusted Advisor. Now we’ll talk a bit about how you do it.

You can start this transition, if you haven’t already made it, with existing clients. Dig deeper into their technical affairs. Go the extra mile in managing and monitoring devices and their network, and proactively offer new ways of gaining efficiency and supporting innovation. They’ll feel the benefits and pass the word along.
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Slugfest: Should You Choose Google Apps or Office 365 for Work?

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In the early days of the Web, the cloud was too slow for interactive productivity tools. Now it’s way better and Google and Microsoft are in a pitched battle for cloud productivity supremacy.

Microsoft Office has ruled the productivity software roost for over a quarter century. The cloud may be the one opportunity for an upstart, say Google Apps, to upset that apple cart. That’s why the search giant launched Google Apps as a beta in 2006. Four long years later, it came out of test mode and became a commercial product which has been on a roll ever since.

Microsoft apparently wasn’t happy watching Google come out with cloud productivity apps that mimicked the Microsoft suite. In no time flat, Microsoft had Office 365, its complete end user set of productivity apps with some server goodies thrown in for good measure. In fact, Office 365 shipped only a year after Google Apps went commercial.
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Why MSPs Should Rule the IT World

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MSPs are clearly on the move. Seeing the value of outsourcing, SMBs and larger shops alike are moving in droves towards managed services. At the same time though, too many organizations do the things the old way, having understaffed IT teams struggling to keep things running – and not availing themselves of state-of-the-art managed services.

There are two problems IT needs to overcome, both of which are solved by managed services. First, it’s hard for small overstressed teams to secure the network, ensure performance, and fix all the problems that constantly arise. The bigger issue is this struggling IT team has virtually no time to think strategically. That leaves them both vulnerable and at a huge competitive disadvantage in their industry.
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When It Comes to MSPs, What Does Agile Even Mean?

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Agile is a term first widely applied to software development, but now is used just about everywhere (maybe overused is a better way to put it). Being nimble, able to change course quickly, and not bogged down by minutia can make even the largest MSP Agile.

Do a Google search on “Agile MSP” and you’ll get 4,630 results, only a minority of which actually refer to managed service providers.

Dig into the results that do, and you’ll find about a dozen different takes on what it means to be an Agile MSP. For some, it just means being flexible and forward thinking. Others try to apply Agile development directives 100% to MSPs, which really only works if the MSP is likewise development focused.

Some of the Agile development techniques make sense, but applying Agile development lock stock and barrel doesn’t truly fit the MSP model.
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Should an MSP Grow by Going Vertical?

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Vertical markets are a great way to expand your business. Going after more and more clients no matter their industry is also a great way to expand your business. And doing both at once isn’t a bad approach either.

So how do you figure out what to do? As an MSP professional that is really your call. Rather than telling you what to do, we’ll talk about the value, and the protective value, of being a vertical MSP.

A big reason to go vertical is that you aren’t just selling your expertise in managing and securing general-purpose systems. Instead you can make these systems shine in particular industries, such as finance, public companies and healthcare – all three of which require compliance expertise.

Let me ask a simple question. IF you are selling to a college, and have educational expertise, do you have a better chance of sealing the deal than a general business MSP? Of course you do. You have a massive advantage in getting this new business. In a case such as this, would you rather be a commodity or an expert?

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How MSPs Can Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Marketing

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Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are great with technology, but not always so marketing savvy. Still, how can you expand a business when no one knows who you are?

Sure, much of your business may be develop by word of mouth, based on great customer referrals. But if that is all you do to market yourself, you are leaving money on the table. And you are  seriously curtailing your ability to expand, especially geographically.

The good news is that MSPs tend to be very (okay, very very) smart, so learning a thing or two about marketing isn’t that tough.

The real question is: are you committed to stepping up your marketing efforts?

If you are, we have some advice to get you jazzed up, fine tune your existing marketing, or maybe just get you started.

Of course, there are challenges. An MSP is not Procter & Gamble with millions to spend on every form of advertising, promotion and marketing.

Many MSPs are small or medium-size businesses, and have to be nimble and ready to engage in a little guerilla marketing warfare.
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Hidden HIPAA Traps

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How You Can Become a Healthcare MSP Master

Many industries have compliance rules, but few are as strict as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

While HIPAA is a set of U.S. regulations, many countries have similar rules.

When it comes to these complex rules, healthcare companies can’t always go it alone. It helps to have a trusted partner who is expert in all things HIPAA, such as an MSP with a vertical health care focus.

The good news for MSPs is that your HIPAA expertise lets you sell services at a premium – compliance is just that important.

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