The 2019 Tech Conference Season is Upon Us!
Deciding which conferences to attend for your MSP.
The 2019 technology conference season is in full swing with many scheduled over the upcoming months. With all these conferences to choose from, how does an MSP determine which are the most worthwhile in attending? In this blog I’m going to discuss the factors that the MSP CEO should consider when evaluating which conferences to attend.
To begin with, it’s not the cost of the event or travel expenses that should deter an MSP from attending. It’s where you spend your time as these events will take you away from the office and interfere with your day-to-day duties back home. For smaller MSP organizations this is especially true and tends to have more of an impact when the MSP CEO is away from the office.
Not attending is not an option. These conferences are an opportunity for the MSP CEO to focus working “on” the business, and not “in” the business; necessary for every MSP that desires growth. I have heard some MSP business owners state “I can’t afford” to attend events that take them away from the business. The reality is they can’t afford not to, as the cliché goes.
What should the MSP CEO consider when determining which conferences would be of most value? Let’s begin by laying out the factors that should influence this decision.
1. Learning and education: This is the most tangible value the MSP will receive when attending an event. It’s important for the MSP to review the agenda of events, speakers and breakout sessions to determine if the topics align with your business model and your interests.
2. Networking opportunities: Meeting and getting to know your MSP peers and vendors presents some of the most intangible value of attending a conference. Intangible as it may be, it has every opportunity to turn into a tangible value in the form of new partnerships, ideas and collaboration of best practices.
3. Plan your ROI: Having a clear goal of what you intend to accomplish by attending an event helps to map your ROI. For example, your MSP may be contemplating a new service offering for VoIP, document management or any other number of potential new offerings. Your goal in this situation may be to meet vendors and other MSPs to develop a plan for implementing.
4. Travel Expenses: While time may be your most valuable resource, travel expenses should always be a consideration. Especially if there are multiple people attending. Budgeting for these expenses should be part of your overall assessment for which conferences to attend and who.
Now I’ll confess, I have at times been influenced by the location and venue of the conference. After all, some of these conferences are at resort hotels that are really nice and also fun. Some MSP business owners use this as an opportunity to combine a family vacation, while others may take advantage and extend for golf. And who doesn’t want to go to Las Vegas? This is all good and fine, as long as the MSP CEO has determined that the ROI from this event is credible. Otherwise, call it what it is….a company sponsored vacation.
This is a good time for the MSP CEO to review the calendar of upcoming conferences and events and plan for the year. A list of these events can be found at CHANNELe2e List of Tech Events. Determine which members of your staff will attend. Budget for conference fees and travel expenses. Really think about the value your MSP organization will receive from attending.
Other factors to consider:
1. What are the training and certification opportunities available for key service delivery members of your staff? These events are often great for accelerating the learning of new technology and platforms, often ending with earning a certification that the MSP will be able to leverage.
2. Look for regional events that may help reduce travel expenses. User group meetings should be considered as part of the overall schedule of events.
3. Vendors may sometimes sponsor the MSP to attend an event that may reduce conference fees, hotel expenses and sometimes travel. While lower expenses are attractive remember that the real expense is your time away from the office.
Keep in mind that over the past few years there has been a tremendous amount of merger and acquisition activity around the MSP tools and platforms. So MSPs may find some efficiencies in being able to attend one conference that covers most of their MSP tools. Now for my personal favorites.
Ingram Cloud Summit, Mar 11-14th, in San Diego, continues to be one of the most valuable conferences to attend. In its tenth year, this event has evolved to becoming the key conference for MSP and IT service providers seeking to establish cloud service offerings. Here you will attend informative breakout sessions, meet a multitude of established cloud service providers/vendors and meet your MSP peers that are evolving their business the same.
ConnectWise IT Nation, Oct 30-Nov 1, in Orlando, has become what appears to be the largest gathering of MSPs, IT service providers and vendors in North America. For MSP’s that have based their business on the ConnectWise PSA platform this is a must attend. Especially for your service delivery staff to receive enhanced training. The entire event has something for everyone and always well done. You’ll have no shortage of peers to share stories with at the bar.
dattoCON19, June 17-19, San Diego, is the event for MSPs using AutoTask as their PSA platform, and of course Datto as their BDR. Here again, if you’re using AutoTask as your PSA platform then this is a must attend event. Your MSP will benefit from the various breakout sessions and opportunities for networking at this event. https://www.dattocon.com/
Kaseya Connect, May 6-9, Las Vegas, like those above is for MSPs that have built their support services around the Kaseya stack. While this event may be a bit tech heavy (at least for my taste) it is really good for getting your technical staff trained. And what better place to send your favored engineers than to Las Vegas! https://kaseyaconnect.com/
As the CHANNELe2e event list depicts, there are a multitude of conferences that are held by most of the key technology vendors such as IBM, HP, Cisco, Dell and such. They all do a good job in providing educational content and opportunities for training and certification. However, these events will be very focused on the vendor products themselves and may tend to draw a more corporate IT attendee.
And then there are other travel meetings the MSP may be obligated to take if involved with an advisory council or industry association such as CompTIA.
You can see when you combine all of these events over the year that it could be expensive and distracting for the MSP if they do not prepare a plan. Otherwise, your team will come and go to these conferences and the MSP will not be able to fully leverage their investment.
Take the time now….plan which conferences to attend and who, budget for travel expenses, and develop a strategy and ROI for each event. I believe you will find this planning exercise to be valuable and helpful in keeping your MSP aligned with your overall goals.
If you have feedback and thoughts on how you go about planning for conferences, I would enjoy hearing from you. Contact Tommy@TWTechVentures.com or visit www.MSPCEO.com.