MAX EU keynote: MSPs, prepare for lift-off

Marc Thaler

LONDON – GFI MAX Director of Partner Community Dave Sobel spent three years living in London as a child, and his first flight was from the United States to England’s capital city.

It was a quick but fitting story, considering Sobel and GFI MAX General Manager Dr. Alistair Forbes told attendees of the MAX 2014 EU Customer Conference that the market for managed services is set to soar.

Dave-Sobel-Welcome“The story is that MAX is now at the heart of the largest MSP community in the world,” Forbes said Monday during his conference-kickoff keynote address.

Forbes’ presentation to managed service providers (MSPs) at the Hilton Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 hotel mirrored the message he delivered two weeks ago at the United States conference.

On Monday, Forbes also told attendees that the key to their success is understanding the business drivers of their customers. Collaboration and communication, workforce efficiency and market penetration, he said, are critical.

“How are you going to power the growth of your business?” Forbes said.

Forbes identified four of the top solutions that small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) need as the landscape shifts to managed services:

  • Backup and disaster recovery (86% small businesses; 100% medium businesses)
  • Virtualization (57% small businesses; 85% medium businesses)
  • Cloud computing (49% small businesses; 98% medium businesses)
  • Data centers (28% small businesses; 90% medium businesses)

“(Your customers are) going to be looking to companies like yours to help them understand that,” Forbes said. “To interpret and help deliver solutions to them.”

Contributing to the MAX keynote, Sobel discussed the need for MSPs to balance consistency and agility.

“It’s at the core of what we do,” he said.

Striking this balance is beneficial for both MSPs and their customers. He said both parties gain:

  • Predictability – Scheduled, proactive management of IT resources reduces the element of surprise.
  • Budget reliability – Customers can plan accordingly and MSPs receive reliable revenue.
  • Access and control – A team of experts are available to customers, and MSPs have enhanced control of accounts.
  • Insight – Customers benefit from advanced skills and training. MSPs have a pulse on customers’ future needs.
  • Tools and systems – Comprehensive services are available for the customer. MSPs benefit from economy of scale.

Sobel also noted that the key to building a lasting business involves asking – and answering – three questions:

  • “What do we need to focus on right now to continue doing them well?”
  • “What are the changes we need to take into account for tomorrow?”
  • “What are the cycles we need to think about to make those adjustments going onward and keep the cycle going?”

Sobel said conference attendees, surrounded by their peers, have a head start in filling in those blanks.

“The answer is here and it is your opportunity to find it,” he said. “That’s incredibly powerful.”