Solution providers and MSPs have opportunity all around them. According to some of the latest market data, Cloud, Managed Services, and Mobility together will have more than $122 billion dollars in new IT spend. This is new IT spend is made up of additional dollars that SMB organizations will spend on investments beyond their existing infrastructure.
However, having that information alone isn’t enough. In order to capture that potential revenue, solution providers need to understand why SMB organizations spend money. What are their priorities? What drives them to invest?
What customers want
The top priorities cited in a global survey are a desire to increase revenue, the need to reduce operating costs, and penetrating new markets and acquiring new customers. Those themes are consistent across North America and across Western Europe as well, as mature markets have this need clearly defined.
What is striking about this is that these drivers – increased revenue, reducing operating costs, and acquiring new customers – are the same drivers that most MSPs also would rank as their own business priorities, and none of these drivers are technology driven. They can certainly BE driven by technology, but they are not driven BY technology. For an MSP to effectively relate to their own customers and prospects, they must be speaking in the language of business rather than the language of technology. This requires a focus on proper business management rather than technology management.
Don't be the cobbler
This offers a unique advantage for those solution providers who have honed their own skills as business consultants. And to do that, these solution providers will have honed their own skills in their own organizations. As the fable warns, the cobbler should not let his own children go without shoes, and equally so the solution provider should not let his own organization be mismanaged when these skills will prove even more valuable than technology skills. Solution providers that are built as sales and marketing organizations that happen to sell technology are better positioned than those built as technology organizations that try to do sales and marketing.
As such, the leaders that run these well prepared solution providers will also have honed their business skills in their own organizations, ensuring that they have built teams that practice what they preach, giving them the competitive advantage in offering services that are driven by business need and aligned with those top priorities.
Tools of the trade
The following are some of the techniques these leaders use to drive this level of success:
- Metrics: Successful business leaders build metrics into their organizations, understanding their key drivers. They start with revenue, growth, profit, and costs, and break each down into component factors to understand what and how they can influence each.
- Cost: These business people focus intensely on understanding the drivers of their business, particularly around the cost of delivering their services, so they can make those portions of the business as efficient as they can be.
- Human Element: They focus on the human capital of their organization, understanding motivation, incentive, and how to build a business that high quality people want to work at.
- Market Understanding: They track and understand market forces that create and drive opportunity, using that knowledge to create those very opportunities that they look for.
It’s intensely powerful that technology can be used to drive the business priorities that solution providers and their customers want, and each of these techniques is a business skill that can be learned, practiced, and crafted each and every day. These skills – these tools of business – can also be used again each and every day in a solution provider’s customers' businesses, helping both grow in the process. This is the key to the opportunity: honing one’s skills to become the true Outsourced CIO. And to do so, one must focus on their own internal skillset beyond that of technology delivery to that of business delivery. These are the organizations and their leaders that achieve the best in class.
Dave Sobel, Director of Partner Community at GFI MAX, is responsible for fostering the growth and success of GFI MAX Partners. As Director of Partner Community, he helps promote collaboration, education and innovation among GFI MAX Partners and among the industry as a whole, ensures they have access to business, technology and market resources, and are utilizing the MAX Platform to achieve positive growth, enhance their offerings and become best-in-class solution providers.