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Ask an MSP Expert

Q:  The managed service business is very competitive and sometimes the United States feels saturated with IT providers. My business is strong and I’m primed to grow it. Are there any options for expanding internationally?

Good question! For insights on what opportunities lay beyond the U.S. borders, we caught up with Chad Mattix, founder and CEO of Kinettix, and a member of the MSP Alliance. Kinettix dispatches IT services globally and works with MSPs and other businesses to establish seamless tech services around the world.   

“Don’t necessarily pick a country you want to expand to. Instead, look at where your customers are expanding,” Mattix suggests. In other words, the corporate client that you service in Peoria might have a manufacturing plant in Mexico that could benefit from your services.

Still, if you’re simply looking to put up a shingle and open another office to try to drum up new business for your company, Mattix says Canada is a good starting point.  Mattix also mentions that Western Europe tends to have lower barriers to entry, which makes it appealing. But, be prepared for slow growth markets in both Canada and Western Europe — The real action is happening in Asia.

“The largest market for growth is China and India,” Mattix says. Both of those countries have different currencies and cultures, and you really need to know the landscape in order to successfully launch there.

Many MSPs don’t have the scale and scope to build the relationships needed to get started but a company like Kinettix can help build those. 

Kinettix and other companies like it can offer 24/7 seamless staffing using locally based techs. This allows the MSP to focus on its core deliverables without having to worry about payroll, insurance, language barriers, cultural customers, politics, and a variety of other variables.

“The challenge that an MSP has, is that they want to replicate the experience they provide in the United States, elsewhere” Mattix explains. It is crucial to be able to build out the delivery of your service, and establish that you can provide onsite service when your customer needs it. All of this builds confidence. The good news for MSPs, is that once they are up and running overseas, the technical aspects of the work is not much different from the United States. “Once the security apparatus is in place, 95 percent of the work is the same,” Mattix says.

Three keys to international success

“If you are going to expand in France or Hong Kong, you need to be able to support your devices remotely, and most of the time you can’t do that. The second thing you have to know is how to procure locally or be able to ship in. The third is to provide on-site support when needed,” Mattix tells SmarterMSP. Once you have procurement and deployment mastered, an account in India is no more challenging than supporting an account in Indiana.

Supporting devices across the globe

“The MSP’s challenge is to get devices into offices and get them appropriately configured, in the amount of time you are on site. If you can build confidence that you have access to a qualified labor pool, then your reach can be global,” Mattix says.

Kinettix goes on site every day for different U.S.-based companies, whether they are MSPs or other companies. When arriving on site, Kinettix techs follow the MSP’s help desk directives, processes, scripts, and certifications so that it’s a seamless integration.

Go ‘glocal’

“Different dispatches require different skill sets,” Mattix says. And different countries present different challenges.  For example, Brazil is challenging because getting parts in and out can beexpensive. China, takes time because so much of the business culture there is built upon the slow-brew of relationship building known as guanxi.  Trust-building is also a major factor in doing business in Japan and South Korea.

Local, country-specific regulations can also trip up an MSP. For instance, Mattix says, the Philippines require a portion of a business be locally owned.  Plus, each country has their own legal, financial, and social insurance obligations. Not to mention, shifting, and changing political landscapes. 

“Employment law is so stringent in each country; plus, social insurance and each environment is politically different. if you can make the U.S. dollar the denominator and your customer is willing to operate that way, it is a viable option,” Mattix explains. But that is tough to do. And expensive. So, working with field tech companies might be a more economical route for an MSP.

MSPs need to be able to reassure their customers that they are there if something happens. “Be global, but you still need to be local,” Mattix says, referring to the word glocal. You want to be able to confidently tell your client that you can have someone on site in four hours. And when an international operation goes smoothly, it can present an excellent opportunity for MSPs.

 Add consistency and value

“The MSPs are doing the care and feeding of the networks when everything is up and running, and can build their revenue by making their story a global one. It’s shocking how many companies have a global relationship now. The need is there, you just need the confidence to tie it all together,” Mattix says, and that is more important than the size of your MSP.

“Whether something is in the same city, state, or country, the same basic principles apply, you just have to get comfortable with the nuances of each,” Mattix says, adding that networking through your local Chamber is a great place to get started.

So, start looking beyond the border, the opportunity is there.

Photo:  Gumpanat / Shutterstock.

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Kevin Williams

Posted by Kevin Williams

Kevin Williams is a journalist based in Ohio. Williams has written for a variety of publications including the Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic and others. He first wrote about the online world in its nascent stages for the now defunct “Online Access” Magazine in the mid-90s.

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