Over the last year, the IoTSSA team invested a lot of time and energy engaging a variety of channel professionals. We sought feedback on the challenges and opportunities in cybersecurity from the provider, vendor, distribution, and other industry professionals’ perspectives.

Those have been enlightening and, in many cases, inspirational conversations. What we discovered was an area of technology that is not only growing at an exponential rate, but an expertise option with the potential to become the largest revenue source for most channel professionals in the future. In fact, many MSPs are already seeing cybersecurity as their primary profit center.

That trend carried on throughout the conversations at ChannelCon. From panel discussions and research presentations to our many interviews with cybersecurity professionals, the channel’s role in network and data security is clearly growing. Most importantly, those services are beginning to generate significant income streams for the MSP community.

Collaboration is the key to delivering cybersecurity protection profitably. That point has become crystal clear, coming up in virtually every conversation with IT security professionals. Most attribute their success to having a community of protection-minded professionals at their disposal ‒sharing their expertise, best practices, and tools.

That’s what IoTSSA is all about. Our partnerships with CompTIA, ChannelPro, and cybersecurity industry thought leaders help us deliver a variety of educational content at live events and in podcasts, blog posts, and other media formats. The community is thriving thanks to collaboration, and that topic was top-of-mind for many of the experts we spoke with at ChannelCon 2018.

Expert Help Drives Sales Conversations

Cybersecurity can be complicated. That is one of the primary reasons for collaborating with other experts to deliver more robust protection services. A primary role for MSPs is to remain focused on the fundamental needs of their business clients, including organizational goals, network management, and workflow. Most IT services firms don’t have the bandwidth to design and deliver everything a company may need to protect its valued data and meet regulatory compliance requirements today. More importantly, the general channel population may not be positioned to sell certain cybersecurity services effectively.

Dark web monitoring is the perfect example. Few MSPs have the time or bandwidth to become proficient in this area ‒ learning what to look for, performing scans, and discussing results with business leaders and IT teams. While those steps may not sound complicated to knowledgeable MSPs, the approach they take with customers can significantly affect their ability to close business.

The dark web is an unknown space that few SMBs understand and lengthy or convoluted explanations can derail a prospective service sale. Experts know to keep the description as simple as possible. Matt Solomon, VP of Business Development for ID Agent, gave me a great example in our discussion at ChannelCon: “The dark web is the underbelly of the internet where hackers post data to sell or embarrass people, as they did in the Ashley Madison incident. I would definitely avoid doing a deep dive. Just help them understand that credentials are where breaches start and why it's so valuable to protect that information.”

Seek Force-multiplying Expertise

Compliance is another area where collaboration pays off. Most MSPs dabble in various verticals, especially those in rural communities with limited options for specializations. While supporting a local doctors’ office may be a great opportunity, if a provider’s team is not familiar with HIPAA rules and medical practice workflow, that contract could be costly. The learning curve is steep.

MSPs often invest a disproportionate amount of their resources taking on single clients with specific compliance and workplace requirements. Implementing one-off applications and learning the jargon and security needs can be cumbersome and costly.

That’s why many vertical “dabblers” partner with others to support those clients. For example, Mike Semel helps MSPs build their regulatory knowledge and assessment skills to take on new vertical customers. The Semel Consulting team also performs risk and compliance assessments for partners who’d rather hand off that responsibility for clients that fall under HIPAA and financial industry standards.

Collaboration gives MSPs more cybersecurity options. When there are specialists available who can properly support the unique needs of certain clients, why would a provider reinvent the wheel and incur all the associated expenses?

Partnering allows MSPs to focus on the activities that drive more profitable recurring revenue streams while ensuring their customers are safe, secure, and compliant. Collaboration is not only a cost-effective cybersecurity option but a force-multiplier for those with relatively few resources.

Brian Sherman
Content Director, IoTSSA | GetChanneled