The sentiment “we are all in this together” has been repeatedly heard during the coronavirus crisis in an effort to keep us united. But rather than just saying it, IT communities put that sentiment into action.
Many business owners join an association or peer group to glean information from other IT professionals or to utilize particular programs or resources. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, however, many MSPs discovered that an IT community is much more than just a group of peers discussing technology—it can become an extension of your staff and a group of friends you didn’t know you needed (bad jokes and all). Here at The ASCII Group, for instance, we noticed that new MSP members who were joining in 2020 were looking (in particular) for a group that housed a trusted kinship of individuals, willing to exchange knowledge, information, and business opportunities in a space that was based on collaboration and real-world experiences.
Particularly now when we are in uncharted territories, MSPs are seeking input from their peers on how to quickly react to clients’ needs. After the pandemic started, for instance, we saw a 27% increase in member participation. Member forums available through an IT community, such as our own ASCII Link, not only help MSPs stay connected, but also provide a venue for fast access to the collective brainpower of hundreds of MSPs.
IT community members not only seek help from their peers, but generously offer it many times as well. At ASCII, we’ve noticed several MSPs who had previously sat on the sidelines as passive participants now jumping in with both feet, asking questions, providing insight, and sharing real life stories (good, bad, and sad) surrounding coronavirus and our new world. When everyone pulls together for the benefit of all, there is a deepened sense of camaraderie.
Feeling connected to other business owners during these unprecedented times has been essential for many. In fact, when we surveyed members, 88% said belonging to a community or association during this time has helped them feel less isolated.
In addition, IT communities have always been a venue for enhanced education and information vetting by peers. There are a lot of choices available for MSPs, who look to their colleagues to help cut through the information (overload). Especially now when many MSPs are rethinking some of their partnerships and vendor relationships during this uncertainty, your peers can be a great first resource.
Community members can also help each other with specific clients. With restrictions in place due to the pandemic, getting to certain areas of the country to do a job has proven difficult for many MSPs. ASCII members, for example, have shared business opportunities and have assisted one another with a “boots on the ground” mentality and program that has been greatly utilized.
Finally, MSPs always have their clients’ protection needs top of mind. An enhanced feeling of connection to peers and access to shared knowledge can play a critical role in keeping customers’ systems secure, educating clients, and staying ahead of the curve (with information, intel, or scenarios shared by fellow members)—evidence that belonging to a group, community, or association is good for business, and can be a source of strength during times of struggle.
ALYSIA VETTER is vice president of marketing for The ASCII Group (www.ascii.com).