5 Questions with John Harden: 2024 CompTIA Community North America Future Leader Award Winner

John Harden has been preparing to be a leader in the IT industry since he was in high school. Now he’s helping MSPs become leaders too.

Five Questions with John HardenJohn Harden built custom software solutions to help scale internal operations for a growing tech company in Indianapolis and placed second in a national web application development contest by Business Professionals of America after designing an ecommerce store for a sporting goods company and a social media platform to use in classrooms. And then he graduated high school.

And that was only the beginning. Harden’s list of accomplishments is still growing. He started his own company, Saaslio, that was purchased in 2022 by Auvik, where he is now director of product, SaaS. He also serves as vice chair of the CompTIA Community SaaS Ecosystem Advisory Council and on several local non-profit councils that develop tech opportunities for young people.

For all his contributions to the IT industry, Harden received the 2024 CompTIA Community North America Future Leader Award for having a demonstrable impact within a CompTIA member organization and showing originality as an entrepreneur.

Harden recently discussed why he wants to help MSPs grow and how SaaS management applications and services can create new opportunities. Here’s what he had to say.

Why is being a future leader important to you?

It’s about impact; it’s about the privilege of serving the IT community that has been my foundation for more than half of my life. Leadership is more than acknowledging a title or award—it’s about the commitment to elevate every facet of our community, pushing us collectively toward a brighter, more inclusive future.

For me, being recognized as a future leader is nothing more than a pedestal to raise awareness of the criticality of making a meaningful difference. It’s about actions, not just words, and in my personal opinion, it’s about the actions that often go unobserved. My leadership perspective is deeply rooted in the conviction that true leaders don’t just aim for personal accolades but strive to lift all boats and create an environment where everyone can rise and achieve together.

In summary, leadership is about creating a legacy of change, growth, and elevated success for all those around you, and it’s measured by the positive impact you’ve made on those you surround yourself with.

What does it mean to be a member of the CompTIA Community? or How has the CompTIA Community helped your business and/or career?

Being a member of the CompTIA Community has profoundly impacted my career and the businesses I serve, enriching my professional journey with invaluable connections and lifelong friendships. Furthermore, my involvement with the CompTIA Community SaaS Ecosystem Advisory Council has allowed me to contribute to its collective growth, making it a deeply rewarding experience.

This community has opened doors to business expansion and professional development opportunities, connecting me with like-minded individuals passionate about advancement. Through CompTIA, I’ve gained access to a wealth of learning resources, networking events and initiatives focused on giving back, all of which have significantly benefited my business and personal growth.

In essence, the CompTIA Community is a beacon of support, opportunity and collective ambition, invaluable to those looking to elevate themselves, their business, or their understanding of the MSP community. It’s a community I am extremely grateful for.

What advice do you have for MSPs and other tech businesses to be more successful?

In an industry as competitive as managed service providers (MSPs), standing out and delivering uniqueness for success is paramount. My advice? Identify what truly sets your business apart. The challenge isn’t to claim uniqueness but to embody it through distinct services, niche expertise and/or unparalleled value delivery to your clients.

Businesses often assert they’re “different” without substantiating their claims with clear, unique qualities. I encourage MSPs to seek out and cultivate that differentiation earnestly—whether specializing in a particular industry, developing a unique offering or mastering a niche market. This focus not only enhances your value proposition but also positions you as a leader in a specific domain and creates high-value outcomes for your clients.

The tech landscape is in constant flux, with evolving client needs and industry standards. Success hinges on MSPs’ ability to prioritize effectively. Utilize resources like the CompTIA State of the Channel survey to stay informed and ahead of the curve. Engage with peers within the CompTIA Community that can provide invaluable insights and help you uncover opportunities to innovate and deliver truly unique offerings to the market. By focusing on differentiation and leveraging industry insights, MSPs and tech businesses can carve out a successful path in a crowded marketplace.

What is the biggest opportunity in the market for MSPs and other tech businesses?

As someone from a business specializing in delivering SaaS management software for MSPs, I recognize my view might lean towards the value of SaaS management as a significant opportunity for MSPs—a bit opinionated, but with good reason. The reliance on SaaS applications is surging, creating a need for MSPs to offer specialized management services. This includes ensuring compliance, mitigating risks and managing shadow IT, presenting a lucrative avenue for service expansion. The market adoption of SaaS management leads me to see it as an essential component of every MSP’s service offering. Honestly, I foresee this area expanding significantly in the next three to five years, becoming nearly a table stake in MSP stacks across the landscape.

However, it’s crucial to note that SaaS management is just one part of a broader ecosystem of emerging tools and services available to MSPs, particularly in the cybersecurity domain. The growing complexity of cybersecurity requirements leads me always to advise MSPs to focus on aligning their services with recognized controls like CIS or NIST and developing comprehensive cybersecurity stacks based on the controls required for their clients.

While my professional background shapes my endorsement of SaaS management, the broader call to action for MSPs is to explore and invest in various technologies that ensure high-quality security and compliance for their clients. In doing so, MSPs can capture significant market opportunities.

What is the best advice you ever got and how did it help you?

The best advice I’ve ever received came from my mentor back in March 2020 when I was deciding what the next stage of my life would hold for me. He encouraged me to launch my business, Saaslio, despite my fears of failure and the unknown. My mentor’s simple yet powerful guidance to “just go do it and figure it out, what’s the worst that could happen” was exactly what I needed to push forward. This advice, while fairly simple is deeply personal to my journey and resonates universally.

Many people hesitate in the face of change, holding onto the next big idea or yearning for better opportunities and choosing to remain in the comfort of the status quo. The notion of “just do it,” popularized by Nike and seen as cliché, carries truth. It’s about the ability to make the decision, to pursue your passions, and to execute in totality despite uncertainties.

The encouragement propelled me to take a leap of faith, leading to significant personal and professional growth. I’ve expanded my professional network, forged lifelong friends and connections, and it’s even that singular decision that set me down the path of joining the CompTIA community—none of which would have been possible without embracing that moment of decision.

So, if I were to share the most impactful advice: Whether you’re facing doubts, weighing the possible outcomes or waiting for that sign to take the next step, if your gut nudges you towards a certain direction, embrace it. “Just do it.” This philosophy doesn’t just apply to grand ventures but to any aspect of life where inaction is the only limitation to potential.

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