MSP 501 Profile: Select Technology Systems Calls for MSP Evolution

501-er Select Technology Systems talks about how MSPs can and should pave the way in terms of business outcomes.

Allison Francis

January 17, 2020

8 Min Read
Evolution of man

Company Name: Select Technology Systems Ltd

Company MSP 501 Rank: 395

Owner and Managing Director: Nigel Potter

Headquartered: Paddock Wood, Kent, UK 

Primary Services:

  • Managed Services

  • Outsourced Help Desk

  • Consultancy

  • Training

Twitter: @Select_Tech

Select Technology Systems’ owner and managing director, Nigel Potter, got his start in the business back in 1994, and has seen the industry evolve and change countless times. Along the way, he has gained some valuable insight when it comes to how MSPs should adapt.


Select Technology Systems’ Nigel Potter

“In order for MSPs to survive, we need to continually evolve how we do things,” says Potter. “Technology will always be changing and adapting, but I believe that the need for “tech” people will diminish. It isn’t just about the technology that is implemented, it is more focused on the business outcomes of those technology solutions. A new breed of people who understand this business process will lead the way within the MSP industry, and will be able to help organisations adopt and consume technology to help make them better, effective and efficient.”     

A great example of this, according to Potter, is Office 365. The technology itself is becoming easier to manage and more reliable. Leveraging the features to benefit business in the most effective way takes a blend of  leading-edge product skills and business understanding.

“We will see the introduction of productivity managed services which will be about helping clients do just this rather than just fix broken technology,” says Potter.

Read on to get Potter’s takes on IT security, growing a business from scratch, and how MSPs can pave the way moving forward.

Channel Futures: Where do you see your biggest growth areas in the next 12-24 months?   

Nigel Potter: With the ever-increasing security threats facing business, IT security is, without doubt, the No. 1 technology concern of any responsible organisation. As an MSP, this represents an excellent opportunity for us, and is one which we are focusing on over the next 12 months. The challenge for MSPs will be to redefine themselves as MSSPs without diluting their profit margins through bundling security into the existing managed services. Our strategy is to optimise our security offering, ensuring that essential areas of security are delivered as part of our managed service plan, but we will also build a more comprehensive security package for those businesses that require a standalone solution. 

In addition to having a security focus, we also recognise the huge opportunity that the internet of things offers MSPs. Being based in Kent – the Garden of England – we have many key clients in the agricultural sector where the adoption of technology and AI is making a huge difference to productivity and efficiency. We plan work in partnership with these clients on IoT solutions which drive efficiency gains, specifically using sensors to detect optimum harvest times. 

CF: What was the single biggest technology or business decision that drove your company’s growth last year? How did it do so?  

NP: Partnering with TruMethods was a great move for us and has enabled us to …

… redefine our managed services offering. This change in strategy and framework has really given us a unique selling proposition and has helped us to truly differentiate ourselves from the more traditional “reactive MSP.” The ability to demonstrate more value in our services means we are now able to command a higher-than-average seat price for our services. In addition, we have become more efficient at reducing reactive tickets, which has in turn allowed us to become more profitable as we effectively have a higher engineer to device ratio. 

We have also made some good strategic partnerships, which has enabled us to say yes more often to clients. This not only increases the revenue opportunity with the client but also their confidence in us. One such example is where a national client required 20 engineers for a two-week desk-walk engagement following a major migration. Like most MSPs, we don’t have 20 spare engineers waiting for such an engagement, so a partnership gave us the ability to provide this service resulting in a happy customer as well as opening the door to future opportunities to take on similar projects.  

CF: What type of company do you find yourself competing with that you did not two years ago?   

NP: We are finding telecom companies are diversifying more and more into the managed IT services space and this creates more competition. Of course, as a mature MSP, we can confidently compete and show more value to prospects, but it is a new threat which was not there five years ago when telecom companies didn’t have an IT interest. 

CF: What is one thing you wish vendors would do that they don’t?  

NP: I really wish that more vendors would introduce partner programs that specifically supply managed service providers. It is fair to say that the majority of MSPs these days have shifted to a monthly billing model in order to drive recurring revenue (MRR), but this doesn’t seem to be accommodated by the vast number of vendors. In our experience, we have found that some smaller vendors offer this, but more often than not, larger vendors do not.  

We regularly encounter vendors that have great solutions and claim to offer an MSP partner program; with further investigation, it soon becomes apparent that the financial plans are too cumbersome or costly to integrate with an MRR billing model. Our recommendation would be that they keep it simple. A great example is Avast, which seems to have gotten it right for MSPs. They offer a simple monthly billing program, which can be scaled up or down based on the monthly needs of the business. Other vendors, especially security vendors, should take note. 

CF: How does Select Technology Systems differentiate itself from other MSPs?   

NP: Most managed service providers will say they are proactive. We say this too, but we can truly substantiate this claim, unlike some others. Based on the TruMethods process and methodology, our managed service offering, Prestige, is unlike any other out there. We focus on strategy that drives business outcomes to the benefit of our clients.  

Customer experience is paramount and this ethos is how we help businesses succeed through technology. We take the time to really understand our client’s businesses and their aspirations. By fully immersing ourselves in their business, we have credibility and authenticity when we recommend the best technology for their business. By understanding our clients’ opportunities and challenges, we can …

… suggest and deploy the right technology that will play a huge part in their journey as a business.

CF: What specific challenges have you as a business owner overcome in your career?  

NP: Growing a business from scratch and starting from small beginnings means that I have inevitably worn many hats and want to, quite rightly, be involved in every aspect of the business. One of the biggest challenges I’ve had to overcome, particularly as the business has grown, is accepting that I can’t do everything. As we have developed into a larger organisation over the years it has been important for me to recognise this and identify where the company needs further expertise.

I believe that in order for a business to evolve and be successful, it must invest in the right people with the right skills. Select Technology has always been about its people and, as time has gone on, we have invested in dedicating people to specific roles, not being afraid to modify job roles if there is a need for it and bringing new people on board to focus on specific areas. 

Most recently we have added compliance and marketing functions as well as augmented our projects team away from our service desk so they can purely focus on consultancy. We are still learning, but taking this slight step back has allowed me to have a greater focus on the bigger picture and has also empowered employees to know they are contributing to the success of the business. 

CF: What else has defined you and/or your career? Did you execute a successful pivot? Build a business during the Great Recession? Weather a natural disaster?  

NP: I started the business back in 1994 as a traditional reseller of IT equipment with no real support services. Back then, we were more affectionately known as “tin shifters.” The golden years throughout the 1990s and early 2000s meant it was possible to make great margin on product and so this business-model sufficed. As the years went by we recognised that the tide was turning. IT was becoming more commoditised as the industry became more saturated and clients were spending less.; in turn, this meant that profit margins were being squeezed as IT providers entered a race to the bottom to see who was willing to sell for the cheapest. 

In addition, shopping online was becoming increasingly popular and we were finding it almost impossible to compete and, more importantly, add value to the sale. So, in 2004 we made the decision to start offering a mix of support services as well as IT. This was the best strategy we could have implemented for the business, as not only has it secured the company’s longevity, but has also seen our financial growth go from strength to strength. The business has now evolved to become a fully fledged managed services provider with a key focus on providing service-based solutions that make our clients’ businesses better. This approach has enabled us to become the robust business that we are today.

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About the Author(s)

Allison Francis

Allison Francis is a writer, public relations and marketing communications professional with experience working with clients in industries such as business technology, telecommunications, health care, education, the trade show and meetings industry, travel/tourism, hospitality, consumer packaged goods and food/beverage. She specializes in working with B2B technology companies involved in hyperconverged infrastructure, managed IT services, business process outsourcing, cloud management and customer experience technologies. Allison holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations and marketing from Drake University. An Iowa native, she resides in Denver, Colorado.

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