We recently had the opportunity to chat with Peter Sandiford, CEO, Level Platforms, regarding the many accomplishments the company has achieved in the last year, as well as Sandiford’s outlook for 2013. With the year now in full swing, Sandiford offered how far LPI has come in the last year, and where the company is headed in the next year.
Among the topics we discussed during our chat, Sandiford noted two announcements that the company recently made at the end of last year; the most recent in December when the company noted its continuing expansion of Managed Workplace RMM platform by adding a MDM capabilities. By injecting MDM into LPI’s Managed Workplace, MSPs will now have the ability to simplify and speed email configuration, improve performance and enhance security for new smartphones and tablets from Apple. Deploying enhanced MDM capabilities, now available as part of Managed Workplace 2012 R2 Feature Pack 1, MSPs will also help end-clients lower operating costs and address critical security concerns as sensitive corporate material is shared and accessed on mobile devices.
In November, LPI announced that it had established an Open Platform for Vendor Technology Integration, allowing its IT vendor partners to create their own Managed Workplace dashboard experience and integrated workflows to maximize MSP partner benefits. By opening its Managed Workplace platform to third-party products and solutions, LPI’s MSPs can now streamline and optimize technical support for their preferred vendors to lower costs and provide a superior end-user experience for the vendor's technologies.
We also discussed how LPI, for the first time, took home the “fall classic” ASCII Cup as the organization’s top esteemed noble partners. The cup, which is awarded each year, following the SMB Nation Fall Conference in Las Vegas, indicates the ASCII channel vendor partner who shows outstanding goodwill and a commitment to helping ASCII members grow their revenue and effectively serve their customers; LPI was definitely a fan favorite this year, as they achieved the honor by garnering the most votes from attendees throughout the year at regional ASCII Success Summit meetings.
Aside from these internal successes, I also wanted to know from Sandiford his thoughts on the external SMB channel community, specifically what he sees happening in the next 12 months. Interestingly, he noted how many vendors are moving away from the PC market and into a more mobile atmosphere. His thoughts are in fact not far-fetched, as many of the large tech giants have reported their intentions to move away from the PC business, specifically Intel, and possibly Dell, as it looks to go private in the near future. “The whole transition from traditional PCs is fully in motion, and we are at an exciting point in the channel,” Sandiford said. “We are moving away from PC servers and now into a much more interesting market, such as the cloud and mobility, and many technologies that are different in the way SMBs have typically consumed IT.”
Sandiford added LPI is of course fully committed to help its partners to grab hold of these opportunities, which might also bring new challenges for MSPs and vendors alike. “We look at these changes as our goal to equip MSPs to take on with enthusiasm ways to elevate the relationship (with the SMB customers) of being a tech consultant to a true CIO where they are looking after not just on-site technology, but all of their end user’s mobile infrastructure and cloud to ensure the end user is fully up to speed.”
Sandiford also said that some of the biggest trends the channel will see this year will focus on automated network audits. “Anyone not running audits will lose out,” he cautioned. “We are currently putting a big effort into extending the simplicity and power of our network audits and a core part of our RMM…and we are really extending a distinct sales opportunity here, as partners have 80 percent success rate…it is phenomenal.”
The core of much of our conversation was regarding network audits, not because Sandiford wants to simply tout LPI’s offerings, but because it is an important and critical tool to assist MSPs, many of whom might not have the time and/or budget to focus on sales (in addition to servicing customers. “This (network audits) make this easier for MSPs to sell,” he said. “Many don’t have the time to conduct toward sales, and with the network audits, they have the information containing user-friendly reports, so they can have a valid conversation with the end user linking technology to business needs that are core drivers of upgraded technology.”
Bottom line: Sandiford says LPI is committed to its vendor and MSP partner base and will continue to forge ahead on supporting these groups, with automation continually at the core. “We are making big investments in these areas and all around one common theme is to help our partners manage and monitor all customers sites and to automate as much as possible,” he said. “What they (partners) will continually need to do is have sales tools that deliver an effective sales message, and we think an effective audit is something that can solve this.”