Category Archives for "Managed Services News"

Dec 01

The 20 MSP Adds 2 More Companies, Part of Multiyear Growth Plan

By | Managed Services News

These deals are in addition to the eleven other strategic roll-ups by The 20 this year.

The 20 MSP on Thursday welcomed two more MSPs into its fold. These deals are in addition to 11 other rollups by The 20 in 2022, and are the latest moves in an ongoing, multiyear growth plan.

Joining The 20 are CSP Technologies and Code Red Networks. As members of The 20 MSP Group, CSP Technologies and Code Red Networks achieved consistent and impressive growth. Both companies have developed into major regional players with a history of client success. Like the 11 companies before them, these latest shops are aligning their businesses with The 20 in order to grow together.

The 20's Tim Conkle

The 20’s Tim Conkle

“As members of our group, Chris [Plouffe, CSP CEO] and Dennis [Ward Jr., Code Red president] have built really special organizations with incredible cultures,” said Tim Conkle, CEO of The 20. “They do all the little things right, and never lose sight of the true role of an MSP – helping your clients succeed. It’s that client-first mentality and commitment to excellence that has allowed both of these businesses to stand out in our crowded industry and grow. It’s a huge part of the immense value they’re bringing to The 20.”

The 20’s exclusive financial advisor on its acquisitions is Pinecrest Capital Partners, a private equity firm. It’s important to note that The 20 is not relying on private equity funding, in contrast to some of the other large platform MSPs involved in typical M&A deals.

The 20 MSP Group

Another notable aspect of The 20’s consolidation strategy is the role of The 20 MSP Group. 

“The MSPs we’re acquiring all belong to The 20 MSP Group, which means we’ve been working with them for months – sometimes years – on a daily basis,” Conkle said. “There is already a real relationship in place, and a deep compatibility that’s hard to build on the fly.”

According to Conkle, this has been the plan now for about eight years. 

“The plan was to build the group, get everybody in the same tool set, and get everybody standardizing toward a single way of doing business,” Conkle told Channel Futures. “Essentially, the idea is that they sell the same way and contract the same way. So ultimately, what you’re doing is you’re pulling together all of these MSPs that look like you, their culture aligns, etc. And then comes the time to do the roll up, at which point 80% of due diligence and integration is already done.”

Looking Ahead

With more than 170 MSP members, The 20 MSP Group funnels MSPs right into The 20’s acquisition pipeline. Conkle’s plan for 2023 is to “fold in” two to four MSPs a month.

“After doing thirteen of these deals, we’ve settled into a rhythm that works. The integrations are smooth and [mostly] painless, and end clients don’t have to adjust to a whole new model of IT support. As for the owners of the MSPs we’re acquiring, we place them in roles that allow them to shine. It’s about coming together and getting stronger – something we’ve believed in at The 20 from the very beginning.”

Dec 01

No VMware Price Increases, SMB Neglect, Broadcom CEO Vows

By | Managed Services News

“To be clear, we intend to continue serving customers of all sizes,” CEO Hock Tan wrote in a blog post.

Broadcom CEO Hock Tan is reiterating to VMware customers and partners that Broadcom won’t raise VMware product prices or neglect SMB customers.

Broadcom in May announced its monumental $61 billion acquisition of virtualization giant VMware. The deal, recently approved by shareholders to close in its just-started fiscal year 2023, has sparked the interest – and concern – of the channel. Those concerns stem mainly from Broadcom’s track record of acquiring companies such as Symantec and CA Technologies. That track record, partners have said both on- and off-the-record, involves heavy cost-cutting and layoffs, price increases and a narrow focus on enterprise customers.

VMware Pricing

Tan on Wednesday published a blog explicitly addressing “press reports” that say Broadcom will raise prices for VMware products. For example, Forrester senior analyst Tracy Woo wrote earlier this year that Broadcom enacted “massive price hikes” for CA and Symantec customers.

Keep up with the latest channel-impacting mergers and acquisitions in our M&A roundup.

However, Tan denied any plans to raise prices.

Broadcom's Hock Tan

Broadcom’s Hock Tan

“The answer is simple: No,” Tan wrote. That’s the second blog in one month making such a statement. Tan wrote on Oct. 26 to state that Broadcom’s methodology “was not based on taking existing products and raising their prices.”

“Following the close of the transaction, we will invest in and innovate VMware’s products so we can sell even more of them and grow the VMware business within enterprises, deepening and expanding the footprint instead of potentially raising prices,” Tan said.

Tan in his Nov. 30 column vowed to recruit more engineering talent to improve the VMware portfolio and offer more choices. That includes enhancing multicloud and cloud-native capabilities to make offerings more flexible for customers, Tan said.

“Post-close, we intend to apply this formula for success by investing in and operating VMware with a concerted focus on growth and innovation, while furthering our track record of delivering consistent, justifiable value with our fairly priced solutions,” Tan said.

Customer Segmentation

Tan also stated that Broadcom won’t leave its smaller customers out to dry in favor of large strategic accounts. Tan said his company is taking a “no customer left behind” strategy.

“Our business model is predicated on adding long-term value to our products and improving them over time. Following the transaction’s close, we’re going to focus on making VMware’s products better for all of our customers, including enterprise customers who want products that are even easier to use,” Tan wrote. “And, to be clear, we intend to continue serving customers of all sizes. VMware has a robust partner ecosystem that we will build upon to help us serve even the smallest companies.”

Broadcom at its November Investor day outlined approximately 600 large strategic accounts. Those reportedly account for more than 70% of Broadcom’s annual recurring revenue. President Tom Krause told investors the company was “totally focused on the priorities of these 600 strategic accounts,” the Register reported.

Broadcom VMware strategic accounts

“Broadcom’s stated strategy is very simple: Focus on  …

Dec 01

Infoblox Rolls Out New Skilled to Secure Partner Program

By | Managed Services News

The program rewards partners who invest their time and resources in becoming “skilled to secure.”

Infoblox has launched its new partner program built around three tracks it designed to deliver support across the channel.

The Skilled to Secure partner program reflects the changing security landscape and shifting customer requirements. It also reflects the need for providers of security solutions and services to adapt in response.

The three tracks include VARs and SIs; service providers; and value-added distributors. Infoblox will announce partners’ awarded level in May. It will depend on partners’ track record and meeting defined competency requirements.

Chris​ Millerick is Infoblox‘s vice president of worldwide partner sales. He said the new partner program will replace the old Infoblox BuildingBlox program.

Infoblox's Chris Millerick

Infoblox’s Chris Millerick

“Very positive customer feedback on the power of our technology to identify and remediate threats born in DNS (more than 80% of malware/ransomware is now born in DNS) faster than ever before has propelled us to open the opportunity for our partner to skill to secure so they can offer Infoblox solutions to their customers from a position of trust and competency,” he said.

Best Components of Cybersecurity Partner Program

Infoblox assessed feedback and had many conversations with its partners and distributors over the past year to understand the best components of cybersecurity partner programs that it could offer in Skilled to Secure, Millerick said.

Benefits partners can gain through the new program include partner-hunted sales incentives and deal registration. It also offers “Guardians of the Network” rewards and incentives, marketing campaigns, marketing development funds and demonstration software.

“This program rewards partners who invest the time and resources in becoming skilled to secure,” Millerick said. “We have made it easier and incredibly cost-effective to enable and certify their teams. Unlike other partnership programs, Skilled to Secure is not based on current revenue, but places significant value on those partners who invest in technical competency.”

Infoblox BloxOne delivers DDI and DNS data-enabled threat detections. DDI comprises the foundation of core network services that enables all communications over an IP-based network.

Predictable, Reliable Renewal Margins

Infoblox said BloxOne offers partners predictable, reliable renewal margins year after year.

Integrated into the security ecosystem, BloxOne enables DNS data to be used to address blind spots in enterprise threat defense and security systems. Internal and external threats can be identified, prioritized and remediated without additional investment in new solutions.

“The rules of cybersecurity have changed,” Millerick said. “Customers want more than just another security solution or tool — they have dozens, if not hundreds, already. What they want is to drive more value from their current environment by making it more effective. That’s where Infoblox comes in.”

Dec 01

Motivating Contact Center Agents with Gamification

By | Managed Services News

Encourage gamification in contact centers to reduce high agent attrition, increase engagement and empathy.

Cresta's Scott Kolman

Scott Kolman

Contact centers are notorious for experiencing high agent attrition, an issue that has only been magnified during the Great Resignation and challenging macroeconomic times.

Unsurprisingly, agents who are unmotivated and disengaged at work are the most likely to seek a change of scenery. Adding to this challenge is that the role of the agent is becoming more complex since most routine inquiries are now handled by self–service channels.

To face the talent retention and recruitment challenge, contact center channel partners are leveraging technology, and increasingly artificial intelligence, to enable contact center agents, managers and supervisors to be more efficient and productive, while at the same time enhancing the customer experience. But to improve engagement and motivation, channel partners would be wise to encourage “gamification” within contact centers.

Add Gamification for Productivity

Put simply, gamification is the process of adding elements of a game (competition, points, etc.) into a nongame environment. It’s one of the key ingredients behind the most productive companies. Common examples are company leaderboards (where employees are awarded points for their accomplishments), goal-tracking bars (where staff can track their progress on something using goal-tracking software) or badges and achievements (to recognize and reward employees for accomplishments).

When incorporated into a workplace correctly, gamification can have a variety of benefits for contact centers. Let’s dig into it:

Gamification Challenges Agents to Be More Productive

It’s no secret that not all employees are engaged at work, or they are not engaged all the time. In fact, according to a Gallup poll, a whopping 15% of employees are actively disengaged. While this may not seem astronomically high, the cost of disengagement is — these employees cost U.S. companies more than a trillion dollars every year.

On the flip side, the employees who are engaged with their work tend to be enthusiastic about their daily responsibilities and feel positive about their workplace. This engagement typically leads to enhanced productivity.

In the contact center, it can be easy for agents to become disconnected from their work. Customer service jobs can be emotionally fatiguing and contact centers are no different. Agents are frequently required to work in a high-stress, fast-paced environment, responding to hundreds of calls from typically frustrated customers. Additionally, answering phones all day can become physically and emotionally draining, not to mention repetitive. This is a recipe for disengagement and reduced productivity.

Most importantly, there is a direct correlation between employee engagement and customer engagement and satisfaction. Simply put, happy employees make for happier customers.

Channel partners that can effectively encourage gamification within contact centers will reap the rewards of highly engaged agents. In fact, research indicates that gamification makes 89% of employees feel more productive and 83% feel more motivated. In a role that can lead to high burnout, gamification can bring fun and competition to a workplace and have a drastic impact on agent effectiveness.

Gamification Makes Agents Happier at Work

Data shows that gamification will not only make agents more productive, it will also help them enjoy their work more. In fact, a whopping 88% of employees said that gamification makes them happier at work.

Partners that gamify their contact centers will create a high-energy, positive workplace. As mentioned earlier, contact centers can be a challenging place to work and can lead to burnout and demotivation. Gamification gives agents something to look forward to. It can make a highly repetitive job more manageable and less monotonous by sparking a bit of competition in the workplace.

Gamification can also have a dramatic effect on morale and team dynamics. By creating a culture where employees work toward a shared goal and operate less individually, it can help employees become closer as colleagues and significantly improve overall morale.

How Do You Incorporate Gamification?

We’ve established that gamification is great, but how can partners incorporate it into the contact centers they work with?

Some of the most popular ways to gamify a workplace is to use badges for milestone achievements, or award points in an app or program. While those are great for remote workers, in-person workers may appreciate physical rewards (like a bottle of wine or gift card) or even an office leaderboard. There also are a variety of gamification apps and software that companies can try out.

For contact center agents, gamification could be as simple as supplying points to the person who answered the most calls on a particular day, or rewarding the agent who had the quickest call times.

It also creates an opportunity for contact center coaches and managers to measure agent productivity and motivate those who aren’t meeting benchmarks.


Gamification might not be the same as playing the PS5 at work all day (although agents could work from the metaverse), but it’s an extremely effective way for channel partners to engage contact center professionals and drive their job satisfaction through the roof.

It’s essential that contact center partners constantly seek new ways to invigorate and inspire the agents they work with. Engaged, happy agents will lead to happier customers and improve public perception of a company, all factors that positively impact contact center partners. Additionally, as businesses strive to retain contact center agents during uncertain economic times and the Great Resignation, gamification is a powerful way to both retain existing agents and attract new talent.

Scott Kolman is the CMO at Cresta, where he oversees the positioning, promotion and branding of Cresta’s real-time intelligence platform for the contact center. He has an extensive background in corporate marketing and promotion of SaaS and enterprise software. Prior to joining Cresta, Kolman held leadership positions at Five9, Genesys, Synchronoss Technologies, SpeechCycle, Amdocs, Lucent Technologies and Octel Communications. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @cresta on Twitter.

Dec 01

Benioff Now Sole Salesforce CEO as 3rd Quarter Proves Strong

By | Managed Services News

The category that includes platforms, such as Slack, reported $1.51 billion in sales, an 18% increase year-over-year.

‘Solid’ is how Salesforce described its third quarter fiscal 2023 earnings. That wouldn’t be inaccurate, as revenue of $7.84 billion was up 14% year-over-year.

Co-CEO Bret Taylor also announced that he is stepping down. This leaves Salesforce co-founder and chairman Marc Benioff, who also served as co-CEO, as head of the company.

Salesforce stock fell by 6% in extended trading on Wednesday, though its price was climbing back up midday Thursday ET.

Salesforce's Marc Benioff

Salesforce’s Marc Benioff

“We had a solid quarter with revenue,” Benioff said. “We’re grateful to our customers for their commitment, especially as we help them succeed in this challenging environment. There’s never been a more important time for our customers to connect with their customers in a whole new way.”

Officials said Salesforce was continuing to drive profitable growth in the quarter, closing more transformational deals and multicloud expansions. Amy Weaver is president and CFO at Salesforce.

Salesforce's Amy Weaver

Salesforce’s Amy Weaver

“We delivered another quarter of double-digit top and bottom-line growth,” Weaver said. “In this time of economic uncertainty, we remain committed to profitable growth and consistent operating margin expansion.”

Subscription and support revenues were $7.23 billion, an increase of 13% year-over-year. The category that includes platforms such as Slack, which it bought last year, reported $1.51 billion in sales, an 18% increase year-over-year.

Dec 01

2023 Is the Remote Work Era

By | Managed Services News

Remote work rose out of necessity; 2023 is the time to lay the groundwork for a more intentional model.

The past two years have brought about massive amounts of change in the way that we work: the growth of the cloud; new solutions and new ways of selling them; and, perhaps most importantly, a more permanent shift to remote and hybrid workforces.

Business in a Post-Pandemic World

While many organizations have brought workers back to the office or back on-site, there is mounting evidence that remote work is now a permanent fixture of our workforce and that we will likely never go back to the way things were prior to the pandemic.

The numbers don’t lie. For example, in 2022, 26% of U.S. employees report working remotely, and 16% of U.S. employees are fully remote.

What’s more, 36.2 million American employees are expected to be working remotely by 2025.

Perhaps most importantly, 40% of workers say they have been more productive while working at home during the past two years, as opposed to being on-site or in the office.

It’s safe to assume that the world has changed forever, at least regarding where and how we work, and that’s a positive thing! In fact, people who work remotely might be even more productive than those who work on-site, with an average reporting 47% more productivity, 10 minutes less a day being unproductive, and working one more day per week.

In addition, remote work may be better for the environment, since it reduces the need for commutes and associated energy usage and emissions.

Accordingly, organizations should be focusing on empowering their teams to excel in remote environments. One of the most effective ways to do that is to implement and activate the necessary technologies before disaster strikes so that business can continue as smoothly as possible.

2023 Is the Remote Era

It might be safe to say that in 2023, we’ll fully enter the remote work era. Even companies that do not have full-time remote or hybrid employees recognize the need for remote accessibility in the case of emergency or disaster. Therefore, ensuring that remote solutions are in place has become an even more essential aspect of developing proper business continuity plans and similar organizational due diligence, whether your organization is primarily remote, hybrid or on-premises.

What’s more, there’s another important statistic to keep in mind. Now that employees understand that remote work is a possibility, they want to keep doing it. According to a recent Gallup report, six out of 10 remote employees are “extremely likely to change companies” if not offered remote flexibility. It follows, then, that your clientele will want to ensure they offer fully functional remote work capabilities to attract and retain the best talent in their industries.

Defining the Necessary IT Transformation

 The desire and demand for remote work leads directly to a growing demand for the technologies that power remote work. This includes everything from collaboration tools and applications to virtualization solutions that can deliver complete desktops or digital workspaces that emulate the on-site or in-office experience.

Therefore, it is likely that your clients are looking for ways to implement, enhance or otherwise better enable remote work at their organizations. Even if a company found a solution in 2020 or 2021, there is a good chance that solution was implemented quickly out of necessity and may not be the ideal long-term choice.

Furthermore, although migrating to the cloud is not always a component of developing a remote-friendly IT infrastructure, it is a global trend with enterprises spending $178 billion on cloud infrastructure in 2022. It goes to follow that solutions that utilize cloud computing or enable businesses to better take advantage of the flexibility, cost-effectiveness and other advantages of the cloud are on the rise.

Now that we have all had some time to adjust to the brave new world of remote and hybrid work, there is time for companies to further explore their options and refine their technology stacks to best fit their needs and goals.

The Parallels RAS Partner Program: Enabling the New Era of Remote Work

As an MSP, ISV, or similar business, there’s a good chance that your clients will look to you for technology solutions that better enable and enhance remote work capabilities for their organizations as we move into the post-pandemic era.

Enter Parallels RAS, a streamlined remote work solution for organizations that provides secure access to virtual desktops and applications from any device, anytime and anywhere. The digital workspaces provided enable end users to access the business applications that they need to remain productive, whether they are working on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Chromebook or the web.

Some examples of the ways that Parallels RAS helps solve 2023’s challenges include:

  • Problem solving in a rapidly changing world. 24/7 customer support makes implementation and ongoing integration in a rapidly changing IT environment painless. Plus, full training is available for your team, free of charge.
  • Security that protects your data, whenever it is located. Remarkable security that provides IT leadership with the necessary governance to protect remote workers from today’s cybersecurity threats.
  • Ease of implementation and management. Streamlined deployment and maintenance of IT infrastructure, including an intuitive management console complete with configuration wizards and a customizable set of tools that combine to reduce the burden on IT teams.
  • Cost-effectiveness and simplicity. The all-inclusive single license model offers full-fledged, enterprise-level features such as application and desktop delivery with RDSH, VDI, and Azure Virtual Desktop, load balancing, universal printing, security features like multifactor authentication and FIPS 140-2 encryption, and more.

But you don’t have to just take our word for it — Parallels RAS has been recognized by numerous independent organizations for its ability to empower companies with remote work capabilities, including winning the 2022 Remote Work and Collaborative Workspaces Wunderkind award.

2022 has been a transformative year for Parallels and our parent company Alludo, and we’re ready and excited to help our clients take on the challenges of the next year and beyond.

Discover how the Parallels RAS partner program can help you empower your clients in 2023.

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

Dec 01

UK MSPs Face Strict New Cyber Regulations

By | Managed Services News

U.K. MSPs are to be classified as critical service providers and could face fines of £17 million ($20.8 million) for cybersecurity failures.

The U.K. government will classify managed service providers (MSPs) as critical service providers to try to stop supply chain attacks.

The government announced Wednesday it will strengthen the U.K.’s Network and Information Systems (NIS) regulations. The NIS regulations were established in 2018. The goal was to improve the cybersecurity of firms providing critical services, energy companies and the NHS.

The U.K. government said MSPs are also “key to the functioning of essential services that keep the UK economy running.”

The changes mean MSPs will now face fines of up to £17 million (US $20.8 million) if they fail put in place effective cybersecurity measures.

The U.K. government cited high-profile attacks such as Operation CloudHopper, which targeted MSPs and compromised thousands of organizations. It said the U.K.’s cyber laws need to be strengthened. This is to “continue to protect vital services and the supply chains they rely on.”

UK Cyber Minister Julia Lopez

UK Cyber Minister Julia Lopez

“The services we rely on for health care, water, energy and computing must not be brought to a standstill by criminals and hostile states,” said U.K. cyber minister Julia Lopez. “We are strengthening the U.K.’s cyber laws against digital threats. This will better protect our essential and digital services and the outsourced IT providers which keep them running.”

Industry Reaction

Other changes include requiring essential and digital services to improve cyber incident reporting to regulators such as Ofcom, Ofgem and the ICO. This includes notifying regulators of a wider range of incidents that disrupt service, or which could have a high risk or impact to their service. This could even be if they don’t immediately cause disruption.

The U.K. government said the updated rules will allow regulators to establish a cost recovery system for enforcing the NIS regulations that is more transparent. It will also consider the wider regulatory burdens, company size, and other factors “to reduce taxpayer burden.”

Paul Maddinson is director of national resilience and strategy at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). He said he welcomed the changes to the regulations.

“These measures will increase the resilience of the country’s essential services – and their managed service providers – on which we all rely,” said Maddinson.

Carla Baker, senior director of public policy U.K. & Ireland, Palo Alto Networks, also weighed in. She said the vendor welcomed the opportunity to engage with the U.K. government. She said it was developing “guidance for industry to enhance cyber resilience and combat the risk that malicious actors pose to the U.K.’s national security.”

U.K. MSPs broadly welcomed the proposed changed during the consultation period in 2021. Comments included that the changes were “a step in the right direction.”


Nov 30

SecOps Team Self-Care Red Alert

By | Managed Services News

Make investments in cybersecurity technology that can help lighten the load on the SecOps team.

The past several years’ pandemic, political unrest, war and supply chain failures have exacerbated several lingering problems in the corporate world and society. One was the increasing proliferation of cyberattacks, which was made worse by a sudden shift to remote work without the underlying security infrastructure to support it. Another has been the ongoing challenges related to untreated mental health problems that increased during the pandemic due to heighted stress, anxiety and depression.

Both of those issues have converged in corporate IT departments, where a shortage of skilled IT security experts has led to high turnover, burnout and what should be an alarming lack of preparedness.

Stress Takes Its Toll More Easily on Cybersecurity Professionals

Cybersecurity is a high-stress field. New threats are constantly emerging, the pace of change is rapid, and innovation and vigilance must remain high. However, there are simply not enough trained IT staff to go around. While that has driven up pay, retention rates are trending down as staff suffer burnout or are tempted away by more lucrative opportunities. As a result, the few staff members left are asked to do even more with fewer resources, perpetuating the cycle.

According to a Chartered Institute of Information Security report, more than 80% of cybersecurity personnel report facing more stress now than before the pandemic. Cybermindz, an organization focused on mental well-being in the cyber community, also recently published an update indicating that cyber professionals score significantly worse on burnout measures than the population at large.

“Cybersecurity workers are the unsung heroes of our time,” said Cybermindz founder Peter Coroneos. “Their day-to-day work is invisible, but a single failure through a breach that can affect millions of people makes headlines. The rapidly evolving and relentless attack environment defies any sense of ‘job well done.’ The one successful attack that could end their career could be around the corner. They are mission-driven with a strong protective ethos. But a sense of hopelessness will eventually take its toll on even the most committed worker.”

Companies rely on their cybersecurity teams more than ever but risk losing these critical employees to burnout. What can be done?

Businesses Must Recognize the Challenges and Make the Right Investments

First, companies need to invest in internally growing and training new IT and security teams — these technicians will not fall into your lap. That means identifying existing employees that can be prepared and moved into these positions and recruiting and training staff from non-traditional fields. But that is the long-term solution. Your SecOps staff needs help now before they crater.

Help needs to come from the top. While the security team primarily focuses on outside threats, team leaders and department managers must look within and recognize their staff is under tremendous stress. Hours, staffing and pay must be organized to give these critical staffers a break. Otherwise, you risk essential security breakdowns because staff are too tired to do their jobs well or you do not have enough people to respond effectively to attacks.

Make investments in cybersecurity technology that can help lighten the load on the SecOps team. The number of threats facing most corporate networks is too great for any size team to handle manually. As a result, SecOps teams need new security software tools that utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to scan for email threats and software that can initiate mitigation processes automatically when a threat is identified to relieve some of their burdens.

Consider outsourcing some security functions. Given staffing and resource constraints, hiring a managed security services provider may make sense to improve a company’s security posture. Partnering with a service provider with the security prowess to hire services such as 24/7 security operations center (SOC) can help manage the daily tasks associated with keeping networks and applications secure, freeing up internal staff to focus on more strategic issues (and make room for some much-needed time off). Outsourcing can also help internal IT personnel do their jobs better since they won’t be splitting their focus between these strategic duties and the unending daily stream of alerts they must address.

Empowering Workers to Advocate for Better Work-Life Balance Is Important

Companies should also foster an environment where staff can comfortably advocate for better work-life balance. This can be challenging, especially for early-career tech staffers who don’t want to jeopardize their future advancement. Teams should be empowered to discuss and address workload issues and other challenges and feel comfortable asking for help when overwhelmed.

This is extremely important, as illustrated in a recent Forbes article. Employees suffering from this type of burnout are less able to function well on the job, putting them at risk of the side effects of depression and anxiety. It also puts the entire organization at risk.

When handling cybersecurity staff burnout, prevention is a better strategy than reactively trying to fix the problem after the fact. A secure IT infrastructure is key to having a healthy, happy, alert cybersecurity staff.

“We must build a strong and resilient cyber workforce,” said Coroneos in a recent Cybermindz update. “If they fall, we all fall.”

Aidan Kehoe is Senior Vice President of Barracuda, a trusted partner and leading provider of cloud-first security solutions.

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

Nov 30

AWS re:Invent: MSP Partners Make Big Money On Top of AWS Sales

By | Managed Services News

The AWS Partner Solution Factory works with partners to ‘SaaSify’ their solutions

AWS RE:INVENT — Amazon Web Services (AWS) unveiled a new Partner Solution Factory and other partner-related offerings on Wednesday during this week’s re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. And its channel leader said MSP partners are making big money through every AWS sale.

AWS re:Invent has drawn than 50,000 partners and customers globally. Ruba Borno, AWS’ vice president of worldwide channels and alliances, detailed the latest partner offerings during her keynote.

AWS’ future will be realized through the power of partnerships, Borno (pictured on stage above) said.

“You, our partners, are critical to our customers’ transformation,” she said. “And we believe it will result in a better customer experience.”

The AWS Partner Solution Factory aims to work with partners to “SaaSify” their solutions, Borno said.

“We connect them with experts and we do well-architected reviews with them,” she said. “And one really great example is a partner like Deloitte, where we launched the Smart Factory in Wichita with them. And it’s an actual factory that is a graduate of SaaS Factory, where there are so many solutions for customers to go in and see how they can automate a manufacturing environment. With AWS Partner Solution Factory, we will be working with partners to validate their solutions in verticals or horizontal use cases and then putting them on the AWS Solutions Library for customers and for other partners to consume to deliver those business outcomes to customers.”

Customers want to work with their preferred partner, but they also want pre-built, validated solutions that have been tested and have customer references that they can trust have been utilized before, Borno said.

“That’s what compelled us to work on the AWS Partner Solution Factory working backward from a customer need where they often prefer those pre-built, validated solutions,” she said.

MSP Partners Prospering with AWS

AWS recently commissioned a third-party study regarding managed services. It shows for every dollar of AWS has sold, partners who have managed services, capabilities and practices across multiple AWS services make $6.40 on top of that, Borno said.

“So that should be very exciting for our managed service partners,” she said.

In addition, partners realized 61% of that value in the first year.

It’s very important for AWS’ MSP partners to continue build out training and certifications, and skill sets, Borno said.

“For us, that’s something that we are seeing,” she said. “Now is not the time to slow down on that. We absolutely encourage all of our partners to continue to double down on investing in the technical capabilities of their people. We know the measured value behind that. So partners that invest in training and certification for their people receive a 229% ROI and also 27% higher gross margins. So from that perspective, we think it’s really attractive for them to do, but also now is the time to do that to deliver value to customers.”

Scroll through our slideshow above for more from AWS re:Invent.

Nov 30

How to Optimize Contact Center Performance

By | Managed Services News

Managing contact center performance revolves around two things: information and communication.

Intermedia's Rob Oscanyan

Rob Oscanyan

One of the most effective ways to increase customer loyalty and boost sales is to level up your customer support strategy. You want your customers to feel valued and to get value from every interaction they have with your organization.

The key to making this happen is to build a high-performance contact center. The contact center is the hub of your customer support efforts, so, as a contact center manager, you want to make sure everything — from your processes to your reporting —is working toward the goal of exceptional customer experience.

Read on to find out what managers can do to boost performance in our complete guide to contact center performance management.

What Is Contact Center Performance Management?

Managing contact center performance revolves around two things: information and communication.

  • Contact center managers need the right performance metrics. Then, they need to take that data and develop strategies to enhance the contact center.
  • Managers also need to communicate those strategies, as well as performance feedback, to empower the agents to continually improve in their roles.

Why Is a High-Performing Contact Center Important?

When you make resolving issues feel effortless for your customers and help them derive value from your product or service, you’re leveraging your customer support strategy to offer what Gartner calls “value enhancement.”

Doing this can lead to economic benefits for your organization. For example, Gartner has found that the probability that customers will stay with a company is 82% when customer support reaches the value-enhancement level, compared to 61% for a low-effort resolution and 37% for a high-effort resolution.

Additionally, research by PwC reveals that U.S. consumers will pay 16% more for products if they are getting a good customer experience. On the other hand, 32% will stop doing business with a brand they loved after one bad experience.

Your contact center is the heart of your customer service efforts. It’s what you use to interact with customers, solve their problems and ensure they feel supported. So, you want performance to be as high as possible so your company can reap the rewards of high customer loyalty.

How to Optimize Contact Center Performance

To increase performance and empower your agents, contact center managers can follow these 3 steps:

  1. Use the Right Contact Center Metrics to Gauge Performance

Here are some of the most useful contact center metrics you might want to use to help you understand performance:

  • First-call resolution: This shows the percentage of calls that are resolved in one contact.
  • Abandoned and missed calls: You’ll need this metric to find out if you have customers who are hanging up before they connect with an agent or slipping through the cracks in other ways.
  • Average speed of answer: This metric shows you how long a customer waits for contact once they enter a queue. You might look at this metric if you have a problem with abandoned calls to find out if a long-wait time could be frustrating customers.
  • Daily transfers by agent: This and other agent metrics like the number of interactions per day and hold data can give you a detailed look at individual agent productivity and help you compare performance among agents.

If your contact center software uses artificial intelligence, you can dig even deeper into customer experience.

AI interaction analysis will evaluate every call transcription to track the sentiment of the conversations between customers and agents. When you can see which conversations are positive, negative or neutral, you can identify which agents are delivering a good experience and which ones might need more training and guidance.

  1. Set Achievable Goals

Once you know what metrics you’re looking at, you can establish your baseline numbers. Then it’s time to start goal setting and strategizing.

  • Set goals for your agents as a group and individually. Be honest about any performance gaps and offer specific guidance to help those agents who are underperforming.
  • Identify what areas your agents need training for and create a plan to give them the mentorship and upskilling they need.
  • Talk with your team about what their ideas are for improving the customer experience —your agents are the ones interacting with customers directly, so they can offer invaluable insights into what your contact center can do to better serve your customers.
  1. Manage Contact Center Staff Levels

As you look at your reporting data, you might find that your contact center is over or understaffed. If it’s overstaffed, not only are you losing money, but your agents might feel disengaged at work. Even more problematic, if it’s understaffed, your customers could be waiting too long, and your agents are likely stressed.

Look at metrics like average handle time, average wait time and the number of calls in each time interval to understand how well your agents are handling current call volumes. If there’s a problem that can’t be fixed with a reasonable increase in productivity, consider hiring more agents so you’re properly staffed.

The Best Software for Contact Center Management

When you have the contact center analytics and reporting you need to track performance, set goals and ensure you have the right number of agents on each day, you can operate a high-performing contact center.

If your current software isn’t delivering the insights you need, check out Intermedia Contact Center. With built-in reports for agent performance, queue performance and service quality, as well as customer reports and AI analytics that reveal call sentiment, you have all the data you need to optimize your contact center and deliver a superior experience with every interaction.

Intermedia Contact Center also integrates with your other communication and business apps, helping your agents be even more successful. Learn more about how a powerful, affordable contact center can help your business.

Rob Oscanyan is director for Product Marketing for Contact Center as a Service at Intermedia.

This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.