Here's another blog entry that's been spinning around my head for several weeks. It goes something like this: There's no longer a first-mover advantage in the managed services market. The original theme -- proactive, remote monitoring for a predictable monthly fee -- is old news. So what's next?

First I need to give proper credit: I had a really long "first mover" discussion with N-able's Rob Bissett during the company's partner summit in October. At that same event, N-able CEO Gavin Garbutt announced the company's freemium endpoint security strategy. The goal: Empower MSPs with a new tool that drives small business engagements.

Whether I'm speaking with Bissett or other sources across the managed services market, a common theme seems to be emerging. First mover advantage is over. The market is getting a bit more crowded and competitive. In private, some MSPs tell me they are less inclined to share key business best practices -- pricing, sales, marketing, etc. -- because of growing competitive pressures.

Clear Picture

Am I worried? Not really. In many ways I think the MSP market is similar to the cable industry.

Rewind to the 1970s and 1980s, and cable service was all about having a reliable "clear picture" and access to subscription services like HBO. By the 1990s, those services were largely a commodity. But new services -- broadband Internet -- surfaced. And more recently, cable companies have introduced VoIP and movies on demand.

My key point: The managed services industry is quite a bit like the cable industry. Early MSP services -- remote monitoring and proactive management -- have gone mainstream. But there's good news: You've already got a pipe into your customers' environments. Now you need to pump new services through that pipe.

But what? Some folks are promoting a single window pane for managing on premise and cloud services. Other experts say MSPs need to go back to basics: Differentiate through aggressive branding and marketing.

I can't offer a "single" piece of advice for "all" readers. I do think MSPs need to sort out (A) their application strategies (on premise or cloud) and (B) their vertical market strategies. I knew: That's pretty generic advice. Perhaps I'm hoping readers will weigh in with more advice.

Regardless of your next move, be mindful of your marketing messages and elevator pitch. The "proactive" talk is old news. First mover advantage is over.

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