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Opportunities in Managed Services

28 Jun, 2012 By: David C. Ramos

I recently read an article that cited the latest Gartner research showing SMBs worldwide spent $860 billion in 2011; and that spending is expected to surpass the $1T mark by 2014.  This data, as referenced in Business Solutions magazine by Editor Jay McCall, makes the point that this is a very appealing market for Managed Service providers and VARS.  McCall goes on to point out that many VARs focused on the SMB market are in fact themselves SMBs that have to address their own business struggles before they can effectively help their customers.  He highlighted three main business pain points that SMB VARs struggle with most:

1. Vendor Management
2. Marketing
3. Available Resource Awareness

As I read more on this, I began to think about my experience in working with dealers in the imaging industry and one thought came to the top of my mind; It is much easier for the independent dealer channel to transition into the Managed Services than it will be for their industry to transition into print, (not that they want to, they believe the benchmarks of 35% GP in hardware and 52% in service are a pipedream).  I look at that list and think, our industry knows about vendor management from carrying multiple equipment lines for hardware, multiple lines of software offered by hardware manufacturers and independent companies like DocuWare.  Couple this with managing OEM and aftermarket partners for toner, parts and service training and vendor management is the least of our worries.  Marketing, yes we need to do some work in SEO and understanding the power of social media, but the foundation is there from doing business in our communities for 20 or 30 years where we are entrenched in the community and with our customers.  Awareness of resources?  We have been managing to benchmarks of Tom Johnson’s model for years, our dealerships understand financial metrics.
The challenge for us will be in realizing the urgency to change our business model where clicks are declining along with unit placements in order to capitalize on this opportunity.  When our sales people walks into a customer’s office and walks by a desk with a PC or laptop on it, they don’t see potential for money.  The progression for our industry is logical, we began connecting MFPs to networks, then transitioned to installing software like document and content management and now we should work to convert that customer base and begin managing their network.  In the last five years or so, as technology has grown more complex and expensive to manage, more and more companies have turned to outside parties to handle running of day-to-day IT needs.  Managed Services is a mature concept, in which technology is bought, delivered monitored and managed as a set of services.  For over a decade outsourcing has played a prominent role in how businesses operate.  Does anyone do their own payroll anymore?  In one recent CompTIA Trends in Managed Services study it was found that “over half of organizations >$10M reported outsourcing at least half of their IT-related functions.”  Big opportunities usually are met with big challenges, like “where do I start?” 

Here is a list of the most common managed services as polled in a recent Gartner study:

1. Remote Help Desk Monitoring – remote help desk support, most efficient way to solve most common IT related problems
2. On-Site Support – Unlimited on-site service calls and regular scheduled maintenance ensuring network uptime
3. Infrastructure – A dedicated network administrator combines with 24x7x365 remote monitoring and maintenance to keep infrastructure running smoothly.
4. Business Continuity (Backup & Disaster Recovery) – Turnkey solutions for backup and disaster recovery
5. Security – Antivirus, AntiSpam, Firewall, and Security Patch management that ensures network inbox remains safe and secure
6. Email Management – Whether hosted or on-premise email management gives client email continuity
7. Technology Consulting – Providing a dedicated Virtual CIO providing expertise needed to make the right decision about technology needs
8. Unified Communication – Focus to transforming business communications and streamlining process with the right VOIP solutions
9. Mobility – Support for mobile devices
10. Print Management – Ensuring that output devices are always accessible to end-users
11. Software – Production support and maintenance

Here is a list of potential partner companies to assist you in selecting which services to provide as part of your Managed Services portfolio.

  • Chartec - unique program provider because hardware and service costs are no longer an obstacle. Computer workstations, servers, Backup Disaster Recovery, Firewalls, 24x7 Help Desk, Video Conferencing, IP Video Surveillance, Internet Security, and even VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) are easily acquired.
  • datto - provider of hardware based on- and off-site backup and disaster recovery solutions
  • Continuum - provider of intelligent, resolution-oriented management software and data protection solutions for MSPs
  • Cloud Services Depot – distributor of Managed Services software and private-label services for MSPs
  • Level Platforms - remote monitoring and management software with over 3000 IT solution providers
  • Kaseya - IT Systems Management Software and Network Management Software for IT Departments and Managed Service Providers
  •  intronis - secure online backup services, cloud backup storage solutions, and data recovery services
  •  Packet Trap – Remote monitoring software
  •  Axcient – data backup, business continuity, and disaster recovery

Using the latest technology is no longer a convenience for small businesses, it is a necessity.  Surviving in a volatile economy means staying current with the ever-changing business technology landscape.  This can be an overwhelming reality for business owners, causing them to lose focus on their main goal of growing their business.  Our channel is poised to fill that void, it will take research, planning, resource allocation and execution but the foundation is strong for the dealership community to capitalize and be that trusted advisor and strategic partner with businesses of all sizes.

Content by David Ramos, a leading, senior industry consultant to the office channel. Contacts: Phone: 407-416-4923 / Skype: david.ramos1971

About the Author: David C. Ramos

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