December is a time for business owners to reflect on the year’s challenges, successes, and disappointments, and to carefully study the predictions and precautions of industry observers and experts. Some say it’s an exercise in futility ̶ suggesting these endeavors rarely result in substantial changes ̶but for the vast majority of business leaders, these annual calendar-end activities are the only time they seriously focus on long-term strategies.
The New Year is a clear line of delineation from where their organizations are now to what they would like them to be twelve months or so later. People respond to deadlines, even when they’re self-imposed, and MSPs are no different when it comes to setting and completing objectives.
Long-term planning should be a continual process. Unfortunately, IT services professionals often get involved in a dizzying array of activities that require much of their time. In other words, MSPs often get caught working “in” their businesses rather than focusing “on” their businesses.
The Future Looks Bright
As 2019 quickly approaches, there are a lot of reasons for MSPs to be optimistic. While some so-called experts predicted just a few short years ago that the cloud, SaaS and mobility would be the death-knell for the channel, the reality is much different. In fact, for well-positioned and properly-prepared MSPs, those developments have had the complete opposite effect.
Those advances have actually increased the value of skilled technology professionals and consultants. Providers who have transitioned their business to support certain markets or added high-demand skills and services (i.e., cybersecurity, VoIP, business intelligence) are thriving.
Firms that design, implement, and support the latest technologies (including policy development and other consultative services) are expanding because the solutions they offer are true business differentiators. Today’s organizations have become more dependent on the networks (cable and wireless) that collect and distribute their values data, as well as applications that manage it all. The rising relevance of technology in business is driving the value of the more established and forward-thinking providers.
Differentiation is Money in the Bank
The trick for MSPs is delivering and effectively supporting those solutions and services and staying ahead of the competition is essential. With low barriers of entry, your rivals are literally everywhere today, from other local managed services firms to international providers, including some rather deep-pocketed retailers like Best Buy and Office Max.
It is all too easy to get in pricing wars and race to the bottom by lowering rates and standards, with cheaper solutions and services. Successful MSPs turn their focus upward with portfolio and service enhancements to better serve their clients and prospects. They automate the backend and increase their emphasis (and personnel) on customer-focused activities, shifting their valued resources to the things that matter most ‒ like developing more in demand offerings and support options.
That’s how you differentiate your MSP from the rest. Clients who receive quality care and top-notch solutions are less likely to walk away to save a few dollars each month. When SMB owners believe your team understands their businesses, including workflow and compliance concerns, and delivers services to address their unique needs, you’ve created a differentiator.
Those relationships require nurturing to remain strong. That means expanding your cybersecurity, voice and collaboration, and advanced technology capabilities. Businesses need secure networks and effective platforms for communicating globally (in many cases) with employees, customers, and partners today. Most of all, they place a higher value on strategists who can assess their short and long-term organizational goals and develop cost-effective solutions and support programs that make those objectives obtainable.
Even your best may not be good enough in the future. Rapid technological advances and increasing compliance requirements are forcing businesses to push their providers harder each year. While those improvements don’t come cheap, they’ll be needed to keep your organization competitive.
Continuum’s CEO Michael George recently predicted that approximately 8,000 of the 40,000 U.S.-based MSPs would capture most of the available IT services revenue by 2020. They aren’t alone in their expectations, with a litany of industry experts suggesting the long-term demise of providers who fail to innovate.
MSPs also need to review and modify client-focused methodologies. Gartner Research suggests that top-performing businesses will shift their IT approach from cost-cutting to revenue-generation. While the time and financial advantages of certain technologies will continue to drive adoption, MSPs should pay closer attention to solutions that help organizations attract prospective clients and boost sales and profitability.
CRM and mobility are two great examples. The former helps your clients better manage their sales and marketing efforts and keep track of lead progression and customer service activities. Each can affect revenue opportunities and client retention.
Mobility solutions provide similar benefits. Enabling your clients’ sales and management teams with remote tools ‒ including hosted VoIP, VPNs, and remote access to key business systems ‒ allows everyone to accomplish more each day. Effective communications systems make it easier to generate revenue and create happy customers.
That’s excellent news for MSPs, especially ConnectMeVoice partners. With access to a future-built hosted VoIP platform, you can give your customers the latest features and help them enjoy the benefits for years to come. Get a jump start on 2019, sign up to become a ConnectMeVoice partner today!