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MSP - the most debated IT acronym?

We were recently asked by one of our clients, a top gun from the service business, to carry out a survey to help find addressable markets for their Cloud Solutions.

We all know that our profession loves acronyms… Acronyms are the greatest asset for marketing guys looking to revamp an old idea/product/solution with some new features. We won’t go into why that’s the way the business works, but we should point out the risks of sharing terms when a definition hasn’t been fully set up and accepted by everybody.
One of our client’s questions was about recruiting MSPs, not the Wikipedia definition of MSPs, not the IBM definition of MSPs, not even the IDC definition of MSPs, but their own definition.
Come on guys! If consulting companies work hard to establish a definition, it's so that the definition can be used. If language exists, it is to communicate with a shared sense of the meaning of the words...Well most of the time anyway... If a car is a car (except for Tesla), is a Cloud a Cloud?

So we had a lot of discussions about those three letters: M-S-P.
Most vendors try to put all their dreams and expectations behind those three letters, a bit like VARs in the 80s, since nobody has ever qualified their own activity as “VAR”.
The acronym MSP is like the acronym VAR, it denotes not an activity, but a quality: the quality to sell or resell digital solutions as ongoing services.

There are different schools of thought regarding MSPs: those who think that anybody reselling something that will consume IT resources as a service is an MSP, which therefore also includes ISV-SaaS, and, at the other extreme, those who think that MSPs are just the Cloud Providers or Cloud Service Providers. In the middle you find those who include resellers that sell third party Cloud /SaaS services.
What we have seen from our client’s request is that MSPs usually (but not always) include the two following categories:
  • Cloud Providers / Cloud Services Providers
  • Managed Services Resellers

and sometimes also ISVs who have their solutions as SaaS.

How many MSP in Europe? How many MSP in Middle East? How many MSP in Africa? How many MSP in North Amerca? How many MSP in Latam?

MSP Europe - MSP Middle East - MSP Africa - MSP North America - MSP Latam

We ultimately arrived at this segmentation for Cloud Activities :

Cloud activity segmentation- active Cloud companies


In conclusion, when you want to tackle a new or moving market, DO NOT USE a new acronym if it hasn't yet become a standard.
Define precisely the attributes partners must have to work with you.
The acronym is just a label. Putting a label on a box doesn't mean what's in the box corresponds to the label.

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