If you’re part of the IT channel, you know it’s not exactly a warm and fuzzy place.
MSPs are often quick to throw an under-performing vendor under the bus; vendors badmouth MSPs for being disloyal; and both groups can criticize and call out their own respective members.
I’ve been in this game for a long time. And I know it can be cut-throat, fickle, and mean-spirited.
But I believe strongly that it doesn’t have to be that way. And that there are signs that things are changing.
The Right of Boom Summit in Tampa in mid-February is a great example.
The event (and can I say how awesome it was to once again gather in person?!) brought together leading industry experts on cyber security. Security–and threats to it–changes lightning fast, and so we need to be on top of our game. All the time.
But if we’re too busy name-calling, bad-mouthing and one-upping each other, guess what? We miss out on great new tech, opportunities to collaborate, and a chance to be stronger together.
The Boom event recognized the severity of the challenge, and so they brought together competing vendors and leading MSPs to focus on one thing: making the industry (and therefore, all of us) more secure. Their purpose was to enable and empower MSPs to keep their clients safe and to be able to still do business despite a threat or attack.
The who’s who of internet security was there: Jon Murchison of Blackpoint Cyber, Danny Jenkins of ThreatLocker, John Hammond of Huntress, and many others. It was so encouraging to see such big names coming together to educate and help the industry mature.
Cybersecurity is a big, mysterious, nebulous topic, and there’s a skills and knowledge gap when it comes to security. Threats evolve faster than MSPs are learning and growing; and, while vendors are evolving quickly, the industry isn’t keeping up. To make matters worse, fierce competition and (I hate to say it) drama keep the little guy (who may have amazing new tech!) out of the game.
That’s the wrong approach.
Remember when I said that 2022 is the Year of MVE (Minimum Viable Enablement)? What are you going to do to help your channel partners understand the challenges, learn about the solutions and what you offer, and ultimately grow? That’s MVE, and I believe it’s going to be the secret to success for the channel.
And so my kudos to Andrew Morgan, Right of Boom creator and organizer (I had the opportunity to be Andrew’s guest on The CyberCast podcast a few times), for doing a phenomenal job on pulling the industry together.
Bringing a range of voices to the table, breaking down barriers, and engaging in important conversations can and will make a huge difference to the industry and to security specifically.
If I’m an MSP, I want to see a vendor with the latest defense mechanism and detection. I want them to be nimble. I want someone with the most sophisticated elements and approach. But if we’re only listening to the big guys, we’re missing out. There are hundreds if not thousands of emerging technologies out there. Limiting the ones we pay attention to simply isn’t the way to go.
How can we all help cultivate an industry known for collaboration and cooperation, instead of petty bickering, name-calling, and online slandering?
I’ve got seven ideas to get started:
- Instead of publicly calling out vendors or fellow MSPs you’re dissatisfied with, how about sending them a DM, or better yet, give them a call and have a chat? We’re all human beings behind the business.
- Seek out people, podcasts, and events designed to encourage, uplift and support. Even if it’s not specifically about the channel, shifting your focus to a positive mindset will serve you in your work and your life. (Some of my faves: Defensive Security Podcast, This Week In Tech, Entrepreneur on Fire.)
- Shameless plug: Subscribe to our next Pitch event! Our next one is this Friday, February 25th, and we’ll be listening to eight perfect pitches, and learning and encouraging each other.
- Start a social page or group where you give shout-outs and kudos to vendors and MSPs going above and beyond.
- When you go to events, be on the lookout for vendors you might collaborate with or learn from, or specifically look for little guys you’ve never heard of. Bigger isn’t always better.
- Create better habits. I’m a firm believer in pushing yourself to be healthier even when you want to ignore it. The discipline and drive will affect all aspects of life.
- Keep your mouth shut. Okay, okay, I’m being a bit cheeky here, but remember that cheesy Thumper line from Bambi? “If you can’t say something nice…” Rather than getting your anger out on Reddit from behind a screen, talk about it to a colleague, or, like I suggest in my first tip, have a respectful conversation with the company you’re disappointed with. Crazy, I know.
Things may not change overnight, but by slowly shifting the way we view and engage with competitors, new start-ups, and the IT community in general, the more successful, happier, and better able to serve our clients we’ll be.