In the 1980s, I worked for my father every summer, earning money for the purchase of my first automobile (the dream!). My father owned and ran a mechanical engineering firm that was focused on the newspaper industry. I vividly remember my father, a proud, intense man, lecturing me about how to stay ahead of the competition. By the time I was 12, I could recite each of our major competitors, where they were from and what area they specialized in. At the time, the thought of co-opetition was as foreign to my dad as the concept of an iPhone was.
Fast forward almost 30 years, and all of the organizations my father competed against are gone―victims of a changing world where the big iron of yesteryear has been replaced by digital media. I often wonder, if this group of competitors had understood the dynamics of co-opetition, could they have seen the changing market dynamics coming? Would they have adapted and flourished, rather than fighting their way into extinction?
I recently had a conversation about co-opetition with a newly acquired service provider based in the Southeastern US. We discussed the benefits and opportunities co-opetition presents, as well as the potential pitfalls. Make no mistake, it raises fundamental questions for an MSP: Where does an individual MSP’s “secret sauce” end and the cooperation that could benefit the broader community begin? How could MSPs better leverage their combined expertise, and join forces to enjoy greater collective success—without also risking their competitive position?
The discussion got me thinking about the opportunity that co-opetition presents to the MSP marketplace. Is co-opetition required if the greater MSP ecosystem is to flourish? Today, we are seeing a few large players continue to grow and expand their business, but we’re also seeing a fair number of organizations fail to make the cut.
Moving forward, I believe that co-opetition is going to be an increasingly important strategy for MSPs, particularly for the smaller players in the industry. By joining forces, they can stay competitive against much larger rivals. Co-opetition can help MSPs broaden their expertise and perspective, and avoid operating in a vacuum that can lead to stagnation and irrelevance. In fact, there are several examples of multiple MSPs joining forces to bring better value to the customer—and to effectively grow their own businesses. Ultimately, co-opetition can set the stage for MSPs to fully leverage their acumen and expertise to compete and innovate—so they can keep giving enterprises the price and quality benefits they associate with the MSP market place.
Peter Harteveld, VP of the Nimsoft Managed Service Provider Practice and Business Development, is responsible for the enablement and growth of Nimsoft MSP customers while also looking for innovative ways to expand the capabilities of Nimsoft through strategic partners and relationships. Prior to CA Technologies, Peter spent eight years with Deloitte Consulting where he focused in the areas of post-merger and acquisition integration, organizational transformation and salesforce effectiveness. Follow Peter online via Twitter and Linkedin.
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