10 “Critical Skills” to Seek in Your MSP


Last month, we attended a keynote address by Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA, the world’s leading IT association. He outlined the “top 10 critical skills” he believes technology professionals will need to succeed today and continue to thrive in the future. As we have a habit of providing readers with guidelines for assessing the professionalism of their IT Managed Services Providers (MSPs), we felt a digest of Thibodeaux’s speech would be apropos:
  1. Ability to Integrate Technologies -- Today’s MSPs must understand how all programs, systems and devices in their client organizations function separately and work together. Even if an MSP chooses a particular specialty, such as cybersecurity or cloud services, the vision to see the big picture and detail level at the same time is vital.
  2. Ability to Understand Cloud Services – Pick your study. The consensus among business researchers is as many as three of every four companies in various industries have some sort of cloud strategy underway. So, MSPs must understand how the cloud works, how to secure it and what compliance issues their clients must manage.
  3. Ability to Understand Different Programming Platforms -- Until recently, a clear division between programming and infrastructure existed. Now, in many instances, software and hardware are integrating and melding quickly. MSPs must understand how the two parts of the new whole of technology communicate and understand each other.
  4. Ability to Work Effectively in a Multi-Generational Workforce – In many posts, we’ve advised readers to prepare for a multi-generational workforce. MSPs are no exception to this new rule. Today’s workforce includes four generations, and each one brings unique capabilities.
  5. Ability to Recognize the Value of Soft Skills – Thibodeaux believes “soft skills” determine success or failure for technology workers today. We concur. Good MSPs need effective communication and collaboration skills to work across organizational boundaries in their own businesses and within client companies.
  6. Ability to Recognize and Respond to Cyber Imperatives – Every MSP need not be wholly specialized toward cybersecurity. But whatever their business focus, any MSP must understand how breaches happen and be able to recognize vulnerabilities within their own systems and those of their clients.
  7. Ability to Relinquish Some Degree of Control -- Good MSPs must be flexible and open to relinquishing some of the control they’ve previously held over technology. And they need to encourage clients to learn the same adaptive posture. In today’s diverse, rapidly shifting digital environment, inflexible businesses risk competitive advantage.
  8. Ability to Understand and Develop Data Analytics – With the escalating flow of information from all directions in business, a good MSP is one that can help you manage and interpret all that data. See our post “5 Ways Small Businesses Can Mine & Analyze Big Data” for more.
  9. Ability to Incorporate Continuous Education – Today, no technology stands still. So, no business can afford to allow their knowledge of technology to stand still either – regardless of the company’s size or focus. Same applies to the MSPs that help them cope with technology.
  10. Ability to Mentor and Inspire the Next Generation of Workers – Businesses thrive when people in an organization communicate why they love what they do and what excites them about their jobs. Technology is a prime example. Look for MSPs that work, in Thibodeaux’s words, “to inspire all kinds of people – minorities, women, people re-entering workforce” because, in all types of industries, passion is contagious.