Specialization: Don’t Believe the Hype?

You’ve got to specialize, specialize, specialize to succeed as a managed service provider. That’s been the key message from vendors for more than a year now. But the vendors are wrong, according to Ziff Davis Enterprise Editorial Director Mike Vizard. Instead, MSPs need to offer a broader range of services. Confused? Don’t be. I worked a bit with Mike back at Ziff Davis, and there’s sound logic behind his thought process.

During the MSP Alliance conference in San Jose, Mike told MSPs that they will be like a boat on the bay if they specialize: Your fortunes will rise and fall with the economic tides, product release cycles, etc. A far wiser move, he claimed, is to focus on multiple complementary market segments — and to avoid the temptation to bet your business on a single vendor platform.

Of course, I’ve been somewhat guilty of hyping vendor specializations — or at least covering them — for TechIQ (or magazine and daily blog for VARs) over the past year or so. I still think there’s value in specializing in complementary technologies — say, security, wireless and mobility. But Mike provided a valuable reminder that going too deep and too narrow with your MSP skill set is a risky bet in the ever-changing MSP landscape.

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