By Mitch Cipriano, Vice President, Marketing
Let’s face it, nothing changes as quickly in a more pervasive way than technology. Change has become a core competence for many IT service and solution providers, although the true master change agents have become the Managed Service Providers (MSPs). They’ve risked life and limb to change the traditional Value-added Reseller (VAR) business model, they’ve changed their sales approach, and in some cases, their logo and brand. As we wrap up last week’s Ingram Micro’s Cloud Summit and Seismic Partner Conference, I witnessed them embrace yet another new approach – the role of CIO.
Becoming a CIO to small and midsized business clients was a popular topic. IT Solution Provider keynote speakers, such as Patrick Ciccarelli of Varsity Technologies, encouraged his peers to be the SMB CIO/CTO, even Ingram Micro’s CIO, Mario Leone, suggested IT Solution Providers bring new “proof of concept” ideas to Enterprise CIOs or not show up. At NetEnrich, we encourage our partners to offload the costly administrative and operational tasks that drag on productivity and focus their time on more strategic, higher margin IT engagements. In all honesty, what’s more valuable to your customer? You as a CIO and weighing in on bigger, more strategic IT implementations or being the break fix guy who comes in only periodically to solve fire drill issues?
Your clients need a chief technology advisor who can help them navigate through the IT changes and better understand how they impact business goals. Too often small businesses get drawn into costly technology integrations or schemes that don’t ultimately deliver measureable business results. As a trusted advisor, you can be the voice of reason to not only address their immediate business goals, but set them up for the future.
About 20 years ago, Stan Chan of Select Data Systems told me how he charged for IT hardware, he said, “Basically, I buy from distribution and I mark it up 20 percent. I share my costs with my clients and tell them up front what I’m doing. Then, I charge a fee for the service, training and support provided in addition.” Even before Managed Services, Stan understood the value of strategic consultation. As a result, Stan had a highly profitable business while his competitors were trying to sell printer cables for $75 and loosing deals to the lowest bidders.
Some MSPs and IT Solution Providers still think of managed services as the technology that’s delivered: the Network Operating Center, RMM tool, even the advanced security solution. However, I believe Managed Services is a business model and a way of operating your IT business in a more cost effective and efficient manner. The technology you sell and deliver can be easily duplicated, outbid or even dis-intermediated by a competitor, or worse, by a vendor. On the other hand, the experience you provide and the invaluable guidance given to your SMB customers is exclusive to you. Consider offloading the technology management to a partner whose core competence is to keep it running 24/7and focus your sights to becoming your client’s next CIO.