E-Tech: Look to Web Dev to Offset Shrinking Traditional Margins
Cloud is changing the game for traditional managed service providers (MSPs). While it’s significantly diminishing revenue streams on which MSPs have traditionally relied, it’s also opening up new opportunities for established shops to explore new offerings, markets and customers.
Such is the case with Toronto-based E-Tech Computing, for whom dwindling demand for private data-center services prompted a new service offering in web development. It’s not a recent one per se; the company, which came in No. 442 on the 2018 Channel Futures MSP 501 list, first entered that particular foray years ago.
“We have been hosting the website for years — primary a content management system called iMIS. As we began to branch out into WordPress and Kentico hosting, we started to focus our efforts on the development and design aspect,” says Ian Evans, E-Tech’s president and CEO.
Managed services has always been a relationship business, and Evans says the strong working relationships E-Tech has developed over the course of the 27 years it’s been in business provide the backbone of the edge it has over other marketing and web-development firms.
“It’s an advantage that we decided it was time to exploit,” Evans says.
Every person who is not yet a centenarian knows that today’s business culture demands a sharp, easily navigable website in order to be successful, but many small and midsize businesses have lagged behind the curve in developing a modern, responsive user web experience. According to Evans, this means there’s an opportunity that can be summed up in three words: mobile, mobile, mobile.
Toronto is a longtime entertainment industry hub, and E-Tech has spent years developing relationships within that vertical. “There is so much room for growth,” Evans says, since the demand is there, and E-Tech already has carved itself a firm footing into the industry niche.
Web design has long been the purview of digital marketing agencies, but, as E-Tech did, in recent years MSPs have begun to roll such services into their offerings as a way to develop what they hope will be long-term revenue streams that will help make up for shrinking traditional opportunities. While developing a new line-of-business (LOB) specialty able to compete with these pure-play houses can be daunting, Evans once again emphasizes the importance of leveraging existing relationships, where the MSP is already the trusted adviser.
“[We compete] through our personal touch and close relationships with our clients,” Evans says. “Our team members have close relationships with high-profile entertainment industry artists.”
The entertainment industry sees a lot of overlap in terms of personal relationships, he explains: Everyone knows everyone. E-Tech’s development team has their finger on the interpersonal pulse, while also striking the right degree of professionalism. Because that still matters too.
It’s a tall order: Developers have to have both mad coding skills and people skills. As many MSP owners can attest, these qualities don’t always go hand-in-hand. But E-Tech says it’s heavily invested in its people, with two full-time onsite web developers and a dedicated specialist whose role is to foster client relationships. The strategy is paying off in terms of growing its web-development services. Evans says he expects E-Tech’s website development team to grow both client and staff count in the coming five years. Building a web-development offering is clearly a strategic decision that’s paying off in spades.