Vertical Market Managed Services: Thinsolutions Makes Moves

Thinsolutions, a managed services provider in Cleveland, Ohio, is going vertical. Indeed, the MSPmentor 100 company has launched a Vertical Chief Information Officer (VCIO) strategy to tackle industry-specific vertical markets. Here's how.

Echoing a familiar theme, Thinsolutions is promoting managed services, cloud computing and custom software into its SMB customer base. "I'd say about 50 percent of our business is managed services, 25 percent is cloud computing and 25 percent is custom software development," said Thinsolutions CEO Michael J. Fischer.

The company currently has just over 200 SMB customers in the legal and accounting verticals, each with a VCIO who stays up to speed on their industries. "They (VCIO's) go to technology shows and stay up to date on the most current software," said Fischer. "I think that's what makes us different. We are trying to build verticals of expertise."

And more verticals are on the horizon. Thinsolutions plans to push into the manufacturing and distribution vertical sometime during early 2012. A venture in the accounting and finance vertical will follow.

Meanwhile, Thinsolutions' current cloud efforts emerged from the ASP (application service provider) ashes. "Our first managed service play back in 1999-2000 was the cloud, but it didn't sell," said Fischer. "A lot of companies trying to sell ASP went out of business. At the time it was too pioneering. People were not comfortable with their application being hosted off-site."

Thinsolutions around 2003 put the cloud solution on hold and started building out an on-site, comprehensive managed service package that includes Microsoft, Citrix Systems and Cisco solutions. Now that cloud computing is gaining momentum, Thinsolutions' cloud offering is back in play as well.

Meanwhile, Thinsolutions may consider more acquisitions -- similar to the CBIZ acquistion in 2010. CBIZ Solutions provides IT support to SMB offices around the country and has helped Thinsolutions expand its service range.

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