Making smarter use of business intelligence (BI) can mean a competitive advantage for managed services providers (MSPs) with the sophistication to identify, collect, analyze and respond to crucial data.
But what are the critical pieces of data that MSP should look for and how can the information be used to gain useful insights that improve business outcomes?
This month’s launch of the MSPmentor 501: 2016 Worldwide Rankings offers a glimpse into one approach, aimed at assessing the best MSPs.
The annual survey invites companies to report the most current and accurate information about their competitive positions, and where they see the market for MSPs going.
“What you have is a list of the highest performers,” said Terry Hedden, CEO of Marketopia, which is partnering with MSPmentor to help MSPs maximize their use of the results.
By reviewing responses to the survey’s 48 questions, MSPs, vendors and others have a host of data points to interpret and analyze.
Users can gain a rich understanding of the broader industry, specific vertical or geographic markets, and where partners and competitors are placing near-term bets.
“The more you gather, the more valuable that big data is,” said Hedden, who ran his own MSP for 11 years before making a business out of outsourcing marketing activities for channel firms.
“What size is an MSP? What industries does it target? The more elements that tie to that MSP’s success, the more useful that data is,” he said.
Among the information each MSP answers:
- Which sales activities does your company leverage to acquire new recurring clients?
- For 2015, how many physical servers and network devices (switches, routers, firewalls, etc.) was the company under contract to remotely manage?
- Which business management software does the company use internally?
- Which remote management/monitoring/remote control solutions does the company use?
- What do you view as your biggest business opportunities for 2016?
This year’s survey is the culmination of years of experience by MSPmentor in asking about and analyzing conditions in the MSP market. Combine that with a new level of scientific rigor introduced by partner, Clarity Channel Advisors.
James Lippie, the consulting firm’s CEO, coaches MSPs to make innovative use of business intelligence and increase their value to customers by acting as trusted advisors or virtual CIOs.
Instead of telling an owner how many backups were completed during the period, show which employees seem to be least productive or less engaged. Rather than listing the status of each server or how many viruses were addressed, aggregate the business intelligence from all customers to demonstrate how a client’s business compares with peers on key metrics.
“That’s the opportunity that MSPs now have that they don’t see,” Lippie told MSPmentor recently.
Hedden offered the example of a business that sells a solution that is complementary to a VMware or Microsoft offering. The data can be used to help identify vendor partners that also meet certain other criteria, like some minimum number of technicians or salespeople.
“Vendors in the cloud space are dying to learn who the best MSPs are,” said Hedden. “Companies will call and they want to get the Top 10 or the Top 100 MSPs.”
Other organizations will want to examine the data on a more granular level, looking for such insights as go-to-market strategies for competitors in a particular vertical or geographic region.
“You can interpret information and use that to your advantage,” Hedden said. “There’s a lot of intelligence if you look at the correlation between all those numbers.”
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