Editor's Note: This is Part 5 of a five-part article, Master Agents Revisited. Other parts of the article are:
- Part 1 - Introduction
- Part 2 - Master Agents' Plans
- Part 3 - Minding the Core Store
- Part 4 - Traditional Functions Remain Revelant
Part 5 - New Capabilities Required
Respondents agreed that the addition of managed and cloud services with any reasonable expectation of repeatable success will require master agencies to develop, in most cases, or improve, in a few cases, their repertoire of skills. In particular, a few of the MSPs and cloud service providers contacted for this report said they have found, or at least perceive, master agencies to be lacking the required technical competence and solutions orientation.
"In the U.S. we do not [use master agents] as we found master agents are not early adopters as some [independent] agents are. Some cloud services still require some technical expertise outside master agents' capabilities," said Forrest Blair, CEO for Virtuon, a cloud service provider offering virtual storage, server, applications and desktops. (The company does have a relationship with a "forward-thinking" master agency based in Europe.)
"Internet service and long-distance is highly commoditized and managed IT service is very customized and service-oriented," said Jeff Grong, vice president of sales and strategic development for master MSP Collaborance LLC, explaining the gap in the models.
"While the delivery model is similar, the value provided is often different and is going to require a different set of training, maintenance and nurturing skills than I perceive to be the core of the master agency value," said one cloud service provider on the condition of anonymity. This provider is looking at telecom agents as a potential channel for its cloud backup and recovery services. "Since cloud solutions would seem to be an add-on offering to the traditional master agent line card, I think it is going to require a broadening of the skill set and support functionality, not a replacement. The master agents who are willing and able to step out of their comfort zone and offer solutions to subagents that they have not been able to deliver before are likely, in my opinion, to be successful."
Channel Partners identified — and respondents agreed with — potential skills requirements in the following areas: