Q: Your first channel job?

WOW, this is going back some! (24 years) I guess this is going back to my college days, I had a part-time job at PC World and the biggest lesson this job taught me was: always expect the unexpected from end-users. Joking aside, it taught me that people don’t know what they want when technology shopping. They know the outcomes of what they want with regards to technology but really need help and support when procuring technology. This has not changed some 20+ years later when working with Small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs)!

Q: How did you get into Channel management?

After coming out of senior IT roles in central and local government, I moved into the Managed Service Provider (MSP) space and really found a passion for helping SMEs drive business results with technology! After a good number of years as Chief Technology Officer at an MSP, I decided I could help more businesses and MSPs along the way on the vendor side of the fence. This led me to move to Datto as Business Development Director for the EMEA region.

Q: Why Channel? 

I love working with MSPs and have a real passion for this space! Personally, I gave up working many years ago, I now get paid to follow my passion and help others along the way.

Q: Best day in the job?

Getting that call or email from a partner thanking me for moving the needle within their business, it is all about results and helping MSPs & SMEs!

Q: Biggest change in the industry since you started your career?

I have seen many changes over the years, but I guess the most profound is the move to the cloud and the shift in how the modern workforce is using technology to empower business across the globe. The possibilities are endless with regards to what businesses can achieve with the right technology!

Q: What has been your most successful campaign?

Well, that depends on what we define as successful, but I would say the support to the MSP community throughout COVID-19. The world changed overnight with COVID-19 and the support needed for the MSP community was vastly different. I decided to change everything from a business development point of view within the EMEA region for Datto. My vision was clear, to support our partners and the wider MSP community no matter what! I changed all events, content and spent budgets on things that went beyond technology and results. Events such as mental health awareness sessions for all our partners, virtual pub nights and free expert advice to help our partners traverse unsettled times with topics such as finance, managing change, uncertainty in the marketplace. I am particularly proud of this and have a vast number of partners getting in touch and thanking me for the support we offered.

Q: How has hybrid and remote working impacted the channel?

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased demand for cloud and IT for many businesses, with MSPs playing a critical role in helping businesses meet the demands of the accelerated digital economy.  Over the last year and a half, MSPs were the unsung heroes for SMEs, enabling them to run their business while the MSPs themselves faced many of the same challenges of remote/hybrid work and economic uncertainty. This accelerated MSP and SME digital transformation.

A remote workforce opened new security vulnerabilities for SMEs, and cloud migrations have offered an opportunity to improve collaboration and business resiliency across a distributed workforce.

MSPs see a continuation and acceleration of trends that were already in place before the pandemic: increasing cloud migrations and a focus on security. MSPs also expect SMEs to better appreciate their reliance on their IT provider and disaster recovery plans.

Q: What are the other key changes that MSPs are now seeing as a result of the changing work landscape post pandemic?

The past year has seen a significant shift in enterprise IT management. With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting a lack of agility in some organisations – who struggled to quickly set up secure, large-scale work-from-home environments – and with IT departments having to downsize, the need for external technology expertise, added scalability and agility has never been greater.

 This is driving an accelerating trend towards co-managed IT services, where MSPs support the in-house IT teams of larger organisations with some, but not all, of their responsibilities. Global demand for co-managed services has accelerated over the last year, perhaps triggered by the sudden shift to remote working during the first lockdown.

The COVID-19 pandemic has bought major and lasting changes in how businesses operate. To facilitate flexible working on an ongoing basis and to take some previously face-to-face processes online, organisations are having to implement new solutions. Partnering with an MSP can help enterprises speed up this digital innovation, while keeping costs manageable thanks to an ‘as-a-service’ or consumption-based commercial model.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing the channel in the future?

Our recently published “Datto State of the MSP report” found that despite 98% of MSPs saying now is a good time to be an MSP, there are issues on MSPs’ minds. The most commonly reported challenge for UK MSPs was revenue growth (35%), followed by competition (30%), achieving a work-life balance (24%), and profitability (23%). These pain points reflect the ongoing concerns and challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

MSPs have consistently reported sales – and marketing-related challenges in our State of the MSP surveys. It makes sense that the MSP space is competitive and getting more so. Even in a global pandemic, many MSPs saw revenue growth, while lots of other industries did not fare nearly as well.

Q: Tomorrow’s World – what are your predictions for the future of channel?

Quite simply, VALUE! Value will become a key focus! The MSPs and vendors that focus on adding value will be the ones that have the most growth going forward. People don’t just want a product, services, or technology, they want something that will create business value. I also believe that we will see a huge shift in the services needed to support SMEs in the future. SMEs need help and support with regards to how technology can improve business processes and they don’t understand or see the true possibilities of technology yet. This is certainly true when we look at automation and how this can be a game-changer for many businesses.

Q: Then and Now – what is the one thing you wish you knew back then?

I have a few:

  • Shut up
  • Listen more
  • Great questions can unlock endless possibilities.

In short, many people when buying technology don’t know what they want, it is your job to find the outcomes they are looking for and then connect the dots on an emotional and business level. People don’t buy technology, they buy outcomes! Most purchasing decisions are subconscious, people buy on emotions and then back it up and justify it logically/intelligently.

Greg Jones is the Business Development Director, EMEA, at Datto. He is responsible for expanding and driving the success of Datto’s partner program and unique MSP ecosystem across the EMEA region. With over 20 years of experience in the IT sector, Greg has extensive knowledge in expertly managing the development of technology and business processes.

Visit Greg’s LinkedIn bio here

Read more of the interviews in our 10 minutes with series.