Winner of PSA/RMM Vendor of the Year at this year's Channel Innovation Awards, Barracuda MSP's Brian Babineau discusses adapting to COVID and predictions for 2021.
This article is part of a Meet the Winners Q&A series following Channel Partner Insight's Channel Innovation Awards. Click here to see all of the award winners.
What has been your personal highlight of 2020?
Successfully re-adjusting my work life balance with two grade school children studying entirely remotely, a spouse who contracts from home supporting Asia Pacific hours, and maintaining my responsibilities to Barracuda, our employees, partners, and customers.
What has been the biggest challenge for your business this year?
Like many other companies, we are missing the energy that working together in the office brings. Until March, our team had always enjoyed the benefit of being together in the office. Seeing each other every day and working side-by-side creates an awesome energy that is hard to replicate.
Along similar lines, the inability to connect face-to-face with our partners is something we wish we could fix. We are certainly missing the opportunity to meet in person, because it's such a great forum for getting feedback from our partners, as well as sharing and testing out new ideas with them, gathering insights into what they're seeing and experiencing in their businesses, and having deeper discussions. We're staying in touch virtually for now, but eagerly look forward to the time when it's safe for us to engage in-person again.
How has COVID changed your business long term?
Our focus has always been enabling partners to secure customers, and COVID has drastically changed the perimeter that needs to be protected. 2020 has largely been spent helping partners quickly pivot to support a remote/hybrid workforce. It's no longer primarily about protecting customers that reside within an office or maybe several offices. Now, customers' employees are working from a myriad of locations and using a mix of devices - some company provided, and some personal.
In many cases, the pandemic has increased demand for certain managed services, and has reinforced and emphasized the critical need for Barracuda's portfolio of security and data protection offerings. We will likely see demand for our solutions not only to be maintained, but grow in many cases.
Aside from that, there's also something to be said for the impact an experience of this magnitude has on a team. I believe this experience will make our internal team an even stronger one - it has made us masters in resilience, empathy, communication skills, and has highlighted the passion our team has for helping and supporting their partners.
What technology or app has been most valuable to you during the pandemic?
Slack. It enables collaboration whether it is 1- on-1 or 1-to-many. It also provides a nice reprieve from email and Zoom. Although Zoom meetings have their benefits, not every interaction requires one. I see Slack helping to drive efficiency. An added benefit is that it doesn't require me to search all my emails to ensure everyone has caught up on the latest message; it's quite easy to stay up to date on the latest via Slack.
What are your top predictions for 2021?
In 2021, an MSP will either be "security-centric" or it won't. An MSP's success will be determined by their ability to continuously assess their client's security postures, looking for opportunities to improve and address any gaps (both technological and human) that may impact the safekeeping of their data, no matter where it is located or how it is used. Security-centric MSPs will have a different lens on both their business opportunities and their accountability to deliver IT services.
Every industry is going to operate differently as a result of the pandemic. Those businesses that embrace the opportunity and transform to meet new realities will survive. At the center of this is cloud-based applications and services. Cyber risk created by a shift to cloud computing is a manageable obligation MSPs should welcome in an effort to aide their clients in business transformation.
Even with the cybersecurity skills gap expected to continue, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic and recession, MSPs must take advantage of any new talent coming into this industry to develop and/or deepen their existing skillsets. In the coming year, we are going to see greater demand for expertise around mobile device security, especially as rules, regulations, and new compliance requirements are put in place around privacy.
What does it mean to you to win PSA/RMM Vendor of the Year in this year's Channel Innovation Awards?
It's a tremendous honor to be recognized as Vendor of the Year in the PSA/RMM space. This award validates our focus on providing a truly security-centric RMM that empowers MSPs to protect and serve their customers' businesses, while growing their own. We know an RMM is a foundational tool for every MSP, and we are committed to continuing to develop the platform with a security and data protection lens. We will continue to add value for MSPs by making it easier for them to weave security into their day-to-day operations, continuously improve the security postures of their clients, and leverage an RMM that complements their tech stack.