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The MSP ecosystem is a relatively small and collegial space – and I’ve long believed that the most successful companies within the MSP ecosystem are typically among the most collegial. Many of us know one another from the industry events we attend every year, and the networking, knowledge exchange, and relationship building that occurs in these forums is all but essential for making well-informed business decisions. Vendors continuously work to develop a keen understanding of the other businesses that are offering products and value propositions similar to their own, as well as others delivering complementary solutions. This is why MSPs are wise to solicit the advice of their current vendors before enlisting new services. Too many don’t, and it’s a wasted opportunity.

Current vendors will know from experience which other solutions are well suited to working as teammates within an MSP’s repertoire and which others are prone to conflicts and issues when paired. Given the pains that MSPs are forced to go through when their technology components don’t play together nicely, it’s certainly worth doing the due diligence to avoid such problems by checking with the vendors you trust. On a more positive note, vendors often know which solutions and platforms other MSPs are relying on. Vendors can advise on those synergistic opportunities that other businesses have already tested out and currently benefit from.

The channel’s collegial nature also means that many vendors are inclined to recommend solutions that cover key needs beyond what they themselves offer. A strong example of this is in meeting the breadth of an end-client’s regulatory compliance needs. MSPs have a tremendous competitive advantage to gain if they can assemble and deliver an end-to-end Compliance-as-a-Service offering. While most individual vendors will provide only a single important piece of the compliance puzzle, those vendors will often understand the full picture of what a comprehensive service requires and which solutions can be used to assemble it effectively. Asking trusted vendors for advice can greatly simplify the research required to scout out a winning team of mutually compatible solutions. This also helps to implement these solutions while avoiding unforeseen gaps or hiccups.

Additional resources from vendors and regulators

Specifically, compliance regulations that govern particular industries – HIPAA in healthcare, FINRA in finance, etc. – center on requiring certain data handling practices and security measures to be in place. From our perspective as a device security vendor, the data encryption and device access control that our MSP partners can provide as a white-labeled solution certainly fall short of offering total regulatory compliance on their own. In IT security, employee behavior is often the determining factor in whether data remains secure, a fact addressed by regulations calling for robust employee training. When an employee is careless with his or her login credentials, leaves an active session unattended, clicks on a phishing email that infects a device with malware, or otherwise negates the security measures our solution provides, that organization’s data is no longer safe from a breach.

That said, when MSPs approach us asking how to address these adjacent needs, we’re more than happy to discuss the lay of the land, and to raise awareness of solutions from our fellow vendors, who are known to offer elegant experiences when teamed with our own. For example, the need for reliable employee training can be met by specific MSP-friendly employee cyber-training solutions. These solutions, like Breach Secure Now!, are designed to teach compliant best practices, test employees in real-world scenarios, and provide management tools that oversee employee progress and certify successful completion of training. Similarly, we might recommend threat detection and endpoint security solutions that mesh well with an MSP’s current technologies. In this way, we’re able to help MSPs to proceed knowledgably as they explore potential vendor options.

While we’ve always been glad to help MSPs to better understand their possibilities, we’ve certainly witnessed the cautionary tales of those MSPs that go it alone. Too often, MSPs end up with a mess of expensive, incompatible, and ineffective solutions, that fail to provide for their clients. With vendors usually eager to talk shop and share their knowledge, avoiding this bad fate is usually as simple as asking for advice.

Photo: 3D_creation / Shutterstock.

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Cam Roberson

Posted by Cam Roberson

Cam Roberson is Vice President, Channel, at Beachhead Solutions, a provider of cloud-managed PC & mobile device encryption, security and data access control for MSPs. Cam began his career with Apple Computer, where he held several senior product management roles in the computing and imaging divisions.

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