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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

Location

333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States

WWW: acer.com

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MSP Spotlights, News

March 19, 2024 | Philip de Souza

Peer to Peer: Aurora’s Philip de Souza shares his secrets to creating a successful MSSP

“It’s important that we understand when it comes to this whole MSP world that it’s all about the customer.”

When we first started Aurora, our managed security services business, I bought a keyboard and was ready to conquer the world. Early on, we came up with a few basic cybersecurity tenets to help create a framework: we deliver the right data at the right time at the right place to the right people.

If your CFO is looking at payroll data in the office at noon, that makes sense. But if your janitor is looking at payroll data in the parking lot at midnight, there’s a serious problem. Context matters when it comes to evaluating an organization’s cybersecurity posture.

Evaluating that context and implementing the right security tools takes time, money, and expertise. When I’m talking to customers and decision makers, sometimes they’re shocked. “What? We’re going to be spending $50,000, $100,000, or $1 million on cybersecurity, and it’s good literally only for that moment in time?”

A business can make a serious investment in time and resources but if someone clicks a malicious link or attachment, everything they’ve done just goes poof! Then they have to start all over again. But such is our life in the fast lane. The cost of doing business in an interconnected digital world.

Secret Sauce

MSPs are in the service delivery business. If the customer wants what’s in their own best interests, you’re in good shape. That’s your path to quick success. But IT professionals often must educate them on what they should want. That’s where you bring in engineering and marketing teams, to impress upon them both the risks and opportunities involved.

We were slow to learn that, but it has become the secret to our success. We initially were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to conquer the world. We would tell customers, “No, this is what you really need. You don’t know what you need.”

Philip de Souza

But that approach was fraught with peril.

It’s important that we understand when it comes to this whole MSP world that it’s all about the customer. The sooner we educate them and gain their buy-in and trust, the greater our success.

The Changing Environment

Let me take you on a short journey …

Twenty years ago in New York, a guy reading the newspaper in the morning finds out it’s going to rain at 3 p.m. So, he buys some $2 umbrellas, appears at Times Square when it’s about to rain, and sells them to unsuspecting tourists for $10 a pop. Right place, right time, right product.

In today’s world? A millennial on her Amazon app can hit a few buttons to order a purple umbrella with pink dots, delivered ASAP to Times Square. A drone can drop off that umbrella to her before the rain starts.

That’s your customer. Tech savvy, open to change, and personally engaged in the sales process. Things are changing fast, and MSPs have to keep up.

Educating Your Customer

Henry Ford famously once said, “If I had listened to my customer, I would have invented a faster horse.”

People often don’t know what they don’t know. They will ask, “Is this good for me? Is this bad for me? Is this the monster under the bed?” With uncertainty and doubt comes bad decisions.

Create a frequent cadence for roadmap conversations. This is where we say “That looks like a nice horse, but how about a driverless car? That’s coming out. Would you like to take a test drive?” We listen, we educate, and we offer better solutions than the ones they had in mind.

We’ll bring in vendors we have vetted who’ve got exciting stuff, put them in front of our customers, and say, “Let’s dream a little bit about the possibilities.”

When we do educational webinars, we say, “We’ve got no skin in the game. We’re vendor agnostic. But let’s talk about compliance and privacy requirements since it’s going to affect you soon. You should know: China’s coming in with major privacy laws, GDPR is already there, California has CPA and CPR.” So, education plays a significant role.

Back to the Basics

Today, ransomware continues to be our biggest challenge. It’s fast and easy for cybercriminals to deploy and it pays better than running drugs across the border, kidnapping, and other illegal activities.

When it comes to cybersecurity, it’s back to the basics. There is no secret sauce, magic bullet, or garlic to hang outside the door.

Businesses need to be careful. They need to train their employees in security best practices. They need endpoint protection. They need all the relatively simple, intuitive things that an MSP can help implement and manage.

But they also need to look ahead. The bad guys are using AI now, and I’m sure in a couple of years, quantum computing will be used to increase attacks.

Whether you’re an MSP taking on more cybersecurity business or launching an MSSP, my advice is the same. Help your clients build a solid security foundation but set up regular roadmap conversations to educate them.  Keep inspiring them to go further to protect themselves.


PHILIP DE SOUZA

President, Aurora

  • Incorporated: 2001
  • Location:  Los Angeles
  • No. of employees: 60 (including holding company)
  • Website: aurorait.com
  • Company focus: Cybersecurity
  • Recommended book:  My top three: “Younger Next Year,” “Hiring for Attitude,” and “No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention”
  • Favorite part of my job: People! I love that I can offer to solve people’s complex problems with technology. A colleague once said they didn’t think I had ever met a stranger.
  • Least favorite part: The details. I love being visionary and can stay organized. However, I may have a bit of ADHD for the minutiae.
  • What people would be surprised to know about me: My bucket list was to take my kids to all seven continents – and I ride a Harley. 

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