Famed Irish writer George Bernard Shaw said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
He was talking about risk, innovation and differentiation. When you adapt to the world around you, you essentially become a part of the landscape. When you adapt the world to yourself – and mold the world to your liking – you become unique.
The next generation of managed service providers won’t become part of the landscape. They will change the world around them through vision, innovation and fortitude.
And that’s part of the problem we’re combating in managed services today: too many providers becoming part of the landscape. We, as an industry, have done a masterful job boiling managed services down to kits that practically anyone can open up and start selling. At this pace, managed services will be no better than Amway or Avon. Surprisingly, no one has tried pulling a Mary Kay marketing scheme to give every MSP a pink Cadillac.
What does it mean to be successful by changing the landscape to your world vision? Look no further than the icons of the industry. Larry Ellison. Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. Thomas Watson. Mark Zuckerberg. What these people did was not play by the rules created by the rest of the industry, but rather rewrite the rules to meet their vision. And here’s the thing about them: Each of them was considered unreasonable when they started out.
We can talk about technology and business models and marketing schemes and vendor alliances built on APIs and channel programs, and it’s all meaningless when managed services – as a market segment – is built on industry scale and not individual scale. What’s the difference? Individual scale is when a business is built to grow by expanding resources to meet customer needs and market demands; industry scale is when the industry creates legions of providers for the purpose of pushing more of their product and not necessarily the sales and profitability of the individual provider. Understand the difference?
What we need are more unreasonable people in managed services. We need thought-leaders who aren’t willing to accept the latest 5-step guide to becoming a MSP, or are willing to sell the same set of services as the other 5,000 guys in the room at some conference in Las Vegas, Chicago or Orlando. We need people who will look at the current technologies and imagine new applications that create value.
The managed services market needs to heed Shaw’s advice. The value to changing the world around you means you won’t eventually become just another tree in the forest.
SVP, GM NetEnrich, Inc.