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MSPs and the Necessity of Real Digital Leadership

23 Feb, 2016 By: Eric Stavola, MSCIS,MCSE,MCSA,N+,CDIA+

In any business, employees are both the biggest expense and the most valuable resource, thus a company’s greatest asset is its people. Never is this truer than in the Managed Services business.

With customer expectations increasing by the day, MSP’s need their employees to be skilled, educated, and customer-focused. With such high demands in the industry today, it is becoming very clear that recruiting and retaining top talent will become a major challenge to deal with in 2016.

Why is this any different this year?

I have talked to plenty of business owners throughout my career and nearly all will tell you that talent acquisition and retention is a “threat” to a business, However, for the MSP in 2016, I think there are two key drivers amplifying this issue:

1)    The Cloud:  This has really changed the way we sell, purchase, and leverage technology. MSP’s today need to staff consultants that have both business and technical acumen to meet the multiple demands of business organizations including looking to examine what is needed most to create digital success.

With all the talk of businesses needing to adapt to a connected world, Digital Leadership roles will be in high demand. I believe that over the next few years that these roles will be evolving as company executives learn what is required in order to thrive, especially in what market researcher Gartner is calling the “digital cultural revolution.” According to Gartner:

·       80% of IT Job roles will change over the next 4 years

·       Over 9% of CIOs have a chief digital officer (CDO) vs. 6.6% last year

·       40% of CEOs have a senior leader with “digital” in the job title

With the increase in Digital Leadership, not only will it be harder for MSP’s to retain the qualified talent they’ve hired but they will need to recruit individuals who possess the combination of both outstanding technical skills and qualitative business acumen, in order to meet the demand for high level strategy and consulting sessions that customers will demand more of. Consider:

Security: With cyber-attacks costing companies billions of dollars each year, the demand to fight Cyber Crime is attracting top talent from key MSP’s. Organizations both in the public and private sector have the need for Security experts and are willing to pay for them.

Competition: In a recent study by research and consulting firm MarketsAndMarkets, it was predicted that the demand for Managed Services will jump drastically in the next five years, with the global market slated to grow from $101.2 billion in 2014 to $193.3 billion in 2019. With such growth slatted ahead, the recruitment of top talent will increase dramatically.

What can you do?

hen it comes to recruiting top talent, companies need to understand what motivates people. I have found success focusing on three key areas:

Personal Growth/Development: In the technology field, it is so easy to become irrelevant if you are not studying and staying up to date with the ever evolving technology landscape. Make sure your company has a professional development plan in place for all personnel; from a wide range of topics from business, technical, and leadership curriculum.

Recognition: Employees like and need to be recognized for their efforts. Make sure that your leadership has a recognition plan in place to delivery specific and quantifiable praise to their department staff. Also don’t understate the power of time; be available for your employee, even a simple lunch or 1- on-1 can be impactful. I have found it is a great way to get to know your staff as well as understand some key challenges in the business they deal with at their level.

Financial Reward: Make sure to evaluate the market on current job roles and market trends. While it’s not feasible to be always changing pay scales, make sure you are not extremely out of scale for key personnel. This will allow you to avoid creating a culture where your employees go out and find a higher paying position and you then have to work backward, trying to match or raise their salary to retain them. Learn to create loyalty early on.

Eric Stavola, MS.CIS, M.Ed, MCSE, MCSA, N+, CDIA+, is Director of Pre-Sales Engineers, U.S. Sales SMB | mindSHIFT, a Ricoh company. Contact him at 619.455.2732 or eric.stavola@mindshift.com

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