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September 23, 2016
MSPs still struggling with how to define their role in the cloud should consider this: Cloud services create an excellent opportunity to up your consulting game and cement your position as IT trusted advisor.
MSPs have always regarded the cloud with suspicion, wondering if offering cloud services threaten their position in the supply chain. In its “Fifth Annual Trends in Managed Services” report, CompTIA revealed that the cloud is a major concern for MSPs, with 62 percent of them selecting it as the No. 1 issue keeping them up at night.
The main reason for this concern comes down to an age-old question about the relationship between vendor and provider: If the cloud vendor is managing the service delivered by the provider, with tasks such as 24/7 monitoring and update execution taking place at its NOC, does the MSP become nothing more than a selling agent on commission?
No, unless, of course, that is the arrangement you choose to enter into with your cloud vendors. But that’s just one way to do it. Under a cloud services contract with a vendor, you should retain contact with the customer. If the vendor is the one handling support calls from customers, the contract should spell out how this works. Typically the vendor would perform the function on your behalf. Of course, if a vendor shows signs of wanting to touch the customer directly against your will, clearly you should find a different vendor partner.
Clarifying the relationship between vendor and provider is essential to a successful long-term engagement. But there is another angle to cloud services delivery MSPs shouldn’t overlook–the opportunity to maximize your value as a consultant and strategist for your clients.
If your cloud vendor is managing the service, this should free you up from day-to-day tasks so you can focus on other aspects of the business, such as sales. For one thing, you should have more time to put into identifying prospective clients and winning new business.
Beyond that, you should have more time for existing clients. You can be more of a strategist, meeting periodically with customers to review their IT plans, discuss the health of their networks, and determine whether they need upgrades or should consider new investments. Aging applications might need replacing. Legacy technology silos could be integrated into a more efficient and easier-to-manage environment.
In consulting with customers, you might, for instance, work with clients to plan and execute a digital transformation strategy to sharpen their operations, improve customer outcomes and make them better competitors in their markets. Or perhaps you can offer guidance on data capture and analytics and the implementation of IoT (Internet of Things) strategies.
Consulting and strategy are what being an IT trusted advisor is all about. You go beyond “keeping the lights on” for clients by acting as a true a strategic advisor who helps clients find better ways to use technology to support the business.
So, rather than view the cloud as a potential threat, you should regard it as a vehicle to achieve and cement the trusted advisor role that so many MSPs crave.
Marvin Blough is StorageCraft’s Vice President of Worldwide Sales where his focus is on expanding the company’s global reach by establishing channel partnerships that enhance the profitability for the channel partner.
Guest blogs such as this one are published monthly, and are part of MSPmentor’s annual platinum sponsorship.
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