Those who know me understand that I like to write about the good, the bad, and the ugly of every event that I attend. Today, I’m writing about ITExpo/MSP Expo, which used to be two shows but is now only one. The theme of convergence and consolidation in our channel affects every aspect of what we do, even the shows that we attend.
As I sit here looking out my window at a snowy vista, I am happy to reflect on having been in sunny Fort Lauderdale only a few short days ago! The managed services event landscape, coincidentally, is in just as much flux as the weather. Here are my top-5 takeaways as well as a photo journal my time at IT/MSP Expo 2020:
Merging the events doesn’t double the traffic. This was the first year that both IT Expo and MSP Expo happened in the same location at the same time. Each of these events still has their own website, but if you go on them both, you’ll see duplicate content. Do they need to pick just one name now that it’s one event? I would vote yes. The other point of note is that combining the two events didn’t lead to a bigger event. The showroom floor and attendee traffic were good, don’t get me wrong, but not 2x better due to their union. The other point to note here is that this decline or lack of growth is happening to events across the board in our channel.
Evidence of office equipment and managed services channel convergence is everywhere. I have a long pedigree in the Office Equipment Channel and have only been attending managed services and IT channel gatherings for a couple of years now. For the first time, I saw real evidence of something I’ve been predicting for a number of years: Convergence of these seemingly disparate channels! I ran into no fewer than 6 people from the office equipment world that are now hanging their shingle out for managed services. Some of these people are now working for vendors in the IT channel. Others are still working for print vendors but bringing new offerings to new customers.
MSPs are taking being hacked very seriously. If one topic dominated the education tracks I attended, it was the dire reality that bad actors are not slowing down on their attacks of MSPs. I counted at least 4 sessions that directly spoke to this. One session led by Domenick Gandolfo of Cybersafe and Marc Laliberte of Watchguard that was very well attended drove the message home hard: Protect yourself or face going out of business altogether. Another session I attended entitled “The Massive MSP Cybersecurity Opportunity” spoke about not just the need for MSPs to protect themselves, but also the massive opportunity for monetizing the cybersecurity for customers. As more and more companies are hacked or suffer other cybersecurity woes, it is getting easier to sell protection services to new customers. to new customers. Lots of new managed services providers are still popping up. One sign of growth in an industry is the constant introduction of new players. At Tigerpaw Software, we have a pretty good pulse on this trend as many of our new customers have reached the point of needing a business automation platform to help manage their growing pains. When we’re engaging with an MSP for the first time, we ask if they are utilizing a business automation platform or not. At IT/MSP Expo, there were a surprising number using nothing at all. So even with all the consolidation of some of the bigger players we’re seeing lots of evidence of new growth in a channel that isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
MSPs and IT services providers are keen to improve their business acumen. I was on a panel that spoke to MSPs about ways they can grow their revenue and margins by harnessing the power of business automation. I was worried that attendance would be low because there were two competing sessions in the same time slot that were geared towards security, a hot topic to be certain. I needn’t have worried! The room was full, and I could see people taking notes as we spoke to how revenue and margin growth can be dramatically accelerated through business automation practices. The IT and MSP channel are only getting more competitive and it was refreshing to see how many providers are serious about bettering not just what they offer but how they offer it!
I’m sure those who didn’t attend this year are wondering, “Should I go next year?” I would say yes, absolutely! IT/MSP Expo did a great job of combining the two shows and the sheer number of educational sessions and panels will make it worth your while. The show did an excellent job of providing both good vendor/provider conversations while making educational sessions numerous and deep.
Please enjoy the photos below of the event and be sure to contact us if you want to learn more about this show and others that Tigerpaw recommends attending. If you were at IT/MSP Expo this year and have your own thoughts about the event, we would love to hear from you as well!