By Peter DiMarco, D&H Distributing
Making 2020 a year of execution for MSPs in emerging spaces.
When asked where the MSP market is headed, D&H sees strong areas of potential. In 2019, the company realized double-digit growth of its reseller business, with growth manifesting in segments ranging from smaller partners who are growing “upstream,” to midsize VARs who expanded their core competencies, and to MSPs who are just onboarding to cloud. This growth was the result of strategic investments targeting areas identified through direct engagement and feedback from partners. Major efforts were concentrated around cloud and “XaaS” (a.k.a. Everything-as-a-Service), Esports, ProAV and collaboration, and high-performance devices.
D&H looks at last year as one of discovery for our channel partners, where programs, relationships, and infrastructures were established to educate them on offerings and go-to-market strategies in these emerging areas. We’ve been making 2020 a year of execution, where those partners leverage the education, resources, and services they’ve gained to deliver some extraordinary new solutions to the business community. Here are the categories we see as positioned for growth:
ProAV/collaboration: Due to areas of opportunity such as classroom environments and huddle spaces in commercial settings, solutions providers have been leveraging ProAV and collaborative solutions, including unified communications systems, videoconferencing tools, and digital signage. Large-footprint installations such as video walls are gaining momentum in verticals including hospitality, transportation, and education. MSPs and VARs have an opportunity to not only build these grand-scale, interactive displays but also to manage the content presented via this medium, opening the door for long-term service contracts and recurring, incremental revenue.
To take advantage, partners need training and resources. D&H is developing materials such as electronic solutions guides to help educate MSPs and VARs on how to create these sometimes-complex solutions, in addition to training via both streaming media webcast productions and at our live Technology Conference events. Video content and training opportunities will be increased this year due to the capabilities of our new headquarters, which includes a full multimedia production suite and “Technology Hub” training theater.
Cloud and MSP Services: As a partner specific to the SMB channel, D&H has worked to align the right resources to help this VAR profile profit from the “Everything as a Service” paradigm. The company launched a state-of-the-art digital cloud marketplace and self-service portal scaled for SMB. It also has invested in a growing and seasoned cloud team, starting with the addition of a new vice president of its Cloud Business Unit, Jason Bystrak.
D&H also added a series of new cloud services partners, including ConnectWise, Axcient, SkyKick, CloudCheckr, Nerdio, ReadyNetworks, and RingCentral. The company’s Cloud Solutions portfolio now encompasses areas including CCaaS, VoIP, assessment, RMM, PSA, data migration, and MSP management tools. And the company has created a series of “XaaS bundles” or prescriptive lists of hardware, services, solutions, and pricing customized for different scenarios, including a UC/collaboration bundle, a storage bundle, a devices bundle, etc.
These offerings help solutions providers more seamlessly migrate to a higher-margin and ever more ubiquitous hosted services protocol. The goal is to provide the tools, solutions, and training to help independent and SMB-focused resellers who may not otherwise have the means to make a comprehensive leap on their own.
Esports: D&H is developing a considerable legacy in the K-12/higher education marketplace, including one of the most comprehensive Esports offerings in the channel. Esports industry revenue is set to break $1B in 2020, with global audiences reaching close to 800 million by 2023, according to global research firm Futuresource Consulting. High school students are now pursuing scholarships based on their gaming skills. Yet the category is so nascent that school administrators hardly know where to begin when it comes to implementing a program. Many MSPs are similarly still in the learning stage.
Esports strategies for K-12 and higher education customers might include anything from the development of a “hobby room” to accommodate gamers, to building a cutting-edge gaming arena. To educate the market, D&H has reached out to associations such as the HSEL (High School Esports League) and the NACE (National Association of College Esports). Consultation with these organizations, combined with training and programs that match partners with institutions seeking Esports solutions, will serve to escalate adoption.
Window 7/Server ‘08 Refresh: Sales of premium mobile devices and servers continue to make a strong showing, prompted by the end-of-service dates for Windows 7 and Windows Server ‘08. EoS deadlines are typically a catalyst for refresh, generating new opportunities for VARs to upsell devices and compute infrastructure. In 2020, emphasis also will move toward BTO compute opportunities for SMB, offering built-to-order server/storage solutions that address this opportunity. Services will involve supporting partners through post-sale configuration, thereby increasing “speed-to-opportunity.”
D&H’s device business also saw an uptick last year due to the company’s cloud-based DaaS (Device-as-a-Service) program, which applies a subscription-based payment model to a combination of hardware, cloud solutions, and professional and managed services. This empowers channel partners to grow their businesses in the “as-a-service” economy while allowing them to deliver additional value to end-customers. End-client advantages include predictable monthly payments, tax benefits, plus ongoing flexible updates and life cycle services.
Success in the market always requires education and partnership, and there’s no growth without adoption. Because the groundwork was laid in 2019, D&H, as well as its partners, are well-positioned to make 2020 a year of innovative and financially rewarding execution.
About The Author
Peter DiMarco is vice president of VAR sales in D&H Distributing’s computer products division, leading all customer-facing teams supporting thousands of VAR and MSP partners. He spearheads D&H’s VAR engagement activities, plus oversees its inside, field, technical, product category, and cloud sales teams.