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TruMethods Schnizzfest 2018: How MSPs Can Differentiate for Technology Success

TruMethods CEO Gary Pica and CTO Bob Penland at Schnizzfest 2018 this morning in Philadelphia
TruMethods CEO Gary Pica and CTO Bob Penland at Schnizzfest 2018 this morning in Philadelphia

Several hundred MSPs are attending TruMethods Schnizzfest 2018 here in Philadelphia. CEO Gary Pica, CTO Bob Penland and several managed services industry leaders are set to provide a health check and forecast for the MSP market -- and the entrepreneurs who lead it.

Stay tuned to this live blog throughout Friday for the latest updates from the ninth annual  Schnizzfest conference.

PS: The notes below are largely paraphrased recaps from Pica, Penland and other guests today.

Gary Pica Keynote Recap...

1. The Quagmire of Mediocrity vs. Awesomeness: There's a fine line between greatness and mediocrity. And in the IT services world mediocrity often involved people-intensive break-fix services.

2. The Early Managed Services Move: After awhile, MSPs had tasks, alerts and reports to share with customers to show value -- but MSPs hit a wall with all the tools and tasks they were juggling.

3. The Move to MSP Practices: Actually formulating a practice area let's you focus on goals, metrics and outcomes for customers. "Almost everyone today, if they're gonna survive, they're going to have a practice," Pica says.

4. Market Saturation?: Today there are roughly 30,000 to 40,000 MSPs, up from about 10,000 when TruMethods started about a decade ago.

5. It's Time to Create a New Adventure: The next inflection point is now -- and MSPs have to shift to thinking about a technology success practice (TSP). Other folks use the TSP acronym to represent technology service provider and total service provider, BYW. "Shift to managing outcomes for customers," Pica says.

6. Today's MSPs Are Not Set Up to Address Customer Outcomes: What's the proof? Customers considers MSPs an SG&A expense, and customers lump MSPs in with office cleaners, office supplies, electric service, etc.

7. Strategic Enterprises... and Strategic SMBs: Within the enterprise, IT is strategic. The same is starting to happen in the SMB sector. "Even large companies that have a full finance department pays money to a top accounting firm for the audit and strategic advice." The same must be true for service providers. If an MSP doesn't have a strategic seat at the table with customers, it's the MSP's fault, Pica asserts.

8. Technology Success Practice: It requires standards, alignment, impact and strategy, Pica asserts.

9. Customer Meetings: Stop thinking of them as project opportunities, and instead virtual CIO meetings where you provide strategic advice -- moving you a function area (high value) rather than an expense item.

10. Look in the Mirror: "We all have self-limiting beliefs that stand in our way. And you need to move those out of the way."

11. Change Your Business, Change Your Life: "Use your business and career as a platform to change your life."

12. Careful of So-Called Technology Solutions: "The industry wants you to sell point solutions to solve problems. That's tactical, not strategic. You won't build strategic customer relationships by adding more point solutions. Build the relationship first, then you can add the solutions."

Check Back for More: We'll be updating this blog with more perspectives throughout the day.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.