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World Synergy was recently featured in Channelnomics on July 07, 2016.

Read more about his interview in the original article below:

MSP Road Trip: Cleveland, Ohio

Welcome to MSP Road Trip!

As our journey around the nation continues, this week we are hitting the shores of Lake Erie as we take a pit stop in Cleveland, Ohio.

While this once-hotbed of manufacturing may take the lead when it comes to rocking and rolling (it is, after all, home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – how cool!), it’s not quite so at the forefront when it comes to cloud and bandwidth, says Michael Mack, of World Synergy.

“A huge, huge challenge to our region is big bandwidth and affordability in moving people to cloud and reliability,” Mack tells Channelnomics. “I don’t know if the pipe’s been laid enough for this area and that it’s cost effective. Everyone says ‘Yes, let’s go to the cloud, the cost makes sense’ and then you show them that besides the cost to go to the cloud, you also have the cost associated with staying in the cloud and then that becomes prohibitive.”

Mack says that as you get closer to downtown Cleveland, you can get decently priced bandwidth, but as you get out to the suburbs, it starts to get expensive. He adds that with the “sprawling community” Cleveland has, decent bandwidth is just starting to “make it out to some of the suburbs”.

To try and work on this, World Synergy has relationships with some of the local telcos, like AT&T, and uses those relationships to try and have a conversation about bandwidth. However, those conversations are often not that productive, Mack says.

“Every time we have a conversation about needing fiber, it comes out ‘Oh, we need to build out, and there’s a cost associated with the build out’. No one wants to pay for the build out. The customer doesn’t want to pay for it and, of course, you have to sign a five-year agreement. After that you usually get some decent pricing, but it is still cost prohibitive for us in a lot of areas, so that’s a big challenge.”

On top of this, getting customers to fully understand what cloud means adds to the cost challenge for a Cleveland MSP.

“Everybody talks about the cloud, but the challenge that we have is getting it across to our customers that the cloud doesn’t solve all problems. It definitely solves some really big ones, but it doesn’t solve all problems,” Mack says.

“And having that conversation with the leader of that organization that we’re going to do it and we’re going to make some wholesale changes, but they are still going to need some maintenance and management and controls in place to make sure it doesn’t get out of control and their costs don’t get out of control, doesn’t necessarily make sense for them yet.”

The important thing is getting customers to a strategy conversation, Mack says. That way they are much more likely to understand what cloud means for their business.

“Maybe they won’t get it right away, but over time they start to and it’s our responsibility to educate, and that’s always really the role we try to play,” he says.

But it is important to persist and work with Cleveland clients to help them stay focused on strategy and business planning around technology, despite its being “challenging to say the least”, Mack says.

“We’ve found the scheduling component helps with that and also really forcing people to put the lens on that at the moment and plan their technology and strategize around it. In the old world we’d just throw in a computer, we’d just throw in a server. It’s really not that simple anymore. There are a lot of moving parts to it – there’s training associated with it, there’s maintenance associated with it. We just want to make sure we have that conversation, the proper conversation.”

Cleveland also presents challenges when it comes to its manufacturing heritage. Mack says the region is going through “a bit of a renaissance”, but at the same time still has small manufacturing companies with an “old world way of thinking”.

“They think about what used to work, and monthly recurring revenue doesn’t make sense to them,” he explains. “But then you have the next generations of leaders – the [children] of the people who created these businesses coming in and telling them there is another way. So then we have the challenge to overcome those obstacles with those leaders, and we are starting to see the momentum beginning to pick up and we’re having better conversations. We’re definitely able to make some impact.”

As far as working with fellow MSPs go, Mack says he feels the MSP space has a lot of interconnectivity compared to a lot of other industries. Interestingly, he feels the MSP industry is geographically segregated, meaning people in the same area don’t necessarily want to talk to their peers about the industry, whch is not the case for MSPs from differing regions, Mack says.

“You get some MSPs from separate parts of the country in the same room and they’re more than willing to share everything with each other because they’re not necessarily going to compete with them,” he points out.

However, like many of his fellow Road Trip MSPs, Mack is keen to have those conversations with his local peers.

“If you’d talked to me two years ago, I would have been deathly afraid to talk to other MSPs in my area. Now I’m actually to a point where I want to talk to them, I want to work with them, because there are certain things that I know that our organization is not as good at and I’d love to leverage that. I think that comes with confidence in where you’re at in your space.”