5 Steps to Making the Business Transformation to an MSSP

June 6, 2018 | Mike LaPeters
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One of the perks of my job is the opportunity to speak with a diverse community of channel partners including Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs). Invariably, we end up talking about customer opportunities, open issues, marketing events or product roadmaps. Occasionally, I have these exceptional discussions about the opportunities and challenges they face today, how they react and respond to these challenges and why they have been able to succeed when so many have struggled.

Success is rarely an accident - you may stumble into something you have an affinity towards, but, you can’t claim success without really working at it. This is true in everything – sports, school, business, art, music, relationships, parenting (I could go on forever). Typically a high level of success is always preceded by a period of transformation.  We’re living in an incredible time where being a technology channel partner has more opportunity than ever, but only for those who recognize that the world has changed and consequently, what customers need and want, have also changed.

So, let’s distill what I’ve learned into some key points.

1.     Know what you’re getting yourself into – Too often the decision to sell a new product line, partner with a new vendor or change your business model (resale to MSP to MSSP, etc.) is made without enough research. I can’t even count how many times I have spoken with a partner who has said they decided to carry a product they know nothing about to resell into a market they have never supported because they ‘read something that said they can make money doing it’. The decision to do something new should be made AFTER you have investigated what it will take to be successful.

2.     Be prepared to invest – Transforming your business is not usually cheap, and I’m not just talking about money here! Regardless of what you are today, if you want to be something different tomorrow, you will need new training, processes, technology, people and content. Making the investment in these today will give you a much higher likelihood of success.

3.     Build a plan with realistic goals  Build your blueprint for success. Just like building a house, if you don’t plan from the beginning you risk collapse. Take a page out of the franchise manual, there is a reason that places like McDonalds, Subway and Stanley Steemer are so predictable, they have an exceptional plan behind them. Make sure you also set goals that are realistic. Know your market, know what you can achieve and plan for that attainment.

4.     People are the key – Any time you decide to make a fundamental change in your core business, or you decide to start a new business, you need to ensure you have talented people you can tap to help you. Cultivate talent, if you have access to smart people (already working with you), invest in making them smarter. Your investment in their abilities will build loyalty and attract other like-minded people. Make sure you have either hired or trained your people BEFORE you fully commit.

5.     Don’t do it alone – When you make a decision to try something new, your chance of success skyrockets if you take some time to speak to someone who has experience trying something new. Even if you are doing something so unique, no one has done this exact thing, guaranteed you can find someone who has done something similar (maybe not in the same space) you can bounce some ideas off of. There’s a reason peer groups are so commonplace in the managed services space. It’s not easy to be something new, so sharing what you learned from missteps, ways around roadblocks, is pivotal to succeeding.

The opportunity is huge; analysts are predicting the MSSP market to exceed $40B in 2022. The complexity required to offer managed security means that there will probably be fewer good MSSPs, but the path is clear IF you’re willing to truly transform. But, whether you offer managed security or not, your customers want it and will either buy it from you or from your competition. The bottom line is you need to transform to keep your customers. The question is not just will you, but can you?

Sign up for our webcast coming up June 12, How to Outsource your Security Monitoring 101 to learn more.

Mike LaPeters

About the Author: Mike LaPeters
Mike LaPeters joined AlienVault in 2015 and heads up the global channel initiative. Mike has more than 20 years’ experience building and leading channel organizations in security, infrastructure and storage software products. He has led teams at CA, VERITAS Software (Formerly Symantec) and he represented the sales and channel efforts from inception through acquisition at 4 startups (acquired by Microsoft, Hitachi (WD), SolarWinds, Nimboxx). He is a 3-time recipient of CRN’s Channel Chief award.
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