A few times a year, I join hundreds of managed service providers (MSPs) as they gather and discuss the most pressing issues for them as operators and professionals in the managed services and cloud computing industry. The event where this takes place, MSPWorld, brings MSP and cloud professionals together to debate, discuss and solve some of the biggest challenges facing our profession.
At the 2012 MSPWorld Conference in Austin, Texas, from Oct. 3 to Oct. 5, we expect four major issues to be on everyone's lips. Although some of these topics will be explored during the sessions on our agenda, you can bet that others will spill over into hushed discussions in the hallways.
Cloud adoption trends. This is an obvious one, but we expect the discussion will be more nuanced than simply asking, "Should I be selling cloud services?" MSPs want to know which cloud offerings are popular, which are failing, which get premium pricing and which are becoming more commoditized. The discussion this year will definitely focus on how MSPs can be competitive in the cloud -- as opposed to how to just survive.
MSPs and cloud operations. This is a fairly broad category -- focusing on key operational challenges many MSPs face -- and it's become a perennial topic at MSPWorld. Pricing, risk, sales strategies, social media-based marketing and related issues are ongoing concerns for many MSP executives.
Channel partner programs. This is a sensitive area for many MSPs and vendors. A crucial career decision for MSPs is selecting the best vendor to partner with and trust. For vendors, being channel-friendly and pro-MSP is not enough; channel-friendly vendors must often work hard to differentiate themselves from other vendors that compete with the channel. Many MSPs are eager to hear from their colleagues about each other's experiences with the vendor-selection process.
Emerging technologies. So much investment and innovation is occurring in managed and cloud services today that it seems a new startup is hitting the market every day. These great new technologies help advance the cause of MSPs around the world by making their jobs easier, but deciding whether to stick with existing products and partnerships or take a chance on new ones is a recurring theme at MSPWorld. With so many emerging technologies gaining traction, we expect this to be a hot topic at this year's event.
We all have so much to learn from each other. Peer interaction in industries like ours is what allows us to grow and prosper. This year, I'm expecting to participate in great conversations and debates, see exciting new technologies that will push the boundaries of what MSPs can achieve, and, with any luck, I'll have a little fun as well.
About the author: Charles Weaver is the CEO and co-founder of the International Association of Cloud and Managed Service Providers, also known as the MSPAlliance. Since its founding in 2000, the MSPAlliance has grown from less than five founding members to more than 14,000 members worldwide. Under Weaver's management, the MSPAlliance has expanded its reach and influence to issues around education, standards of conduct and certifications for managed services professionals and companies.
In addition to running the daily operational activities of the MSPAlliance, Weaver writes and speaks extensively around the world on the managed services industry. He is the author of the book The Art of Managed Services.