Every MSP should rethink how it can be a strategic partner to their customers in 2021.
At the beginning of a new year it’s critical for MSPs to ask themselves if they’re satisfied with being the managed services provider to their customers. Not that it’s a bad or inferior role to play, but ask yourself, is it enough? And ask if it’s enough on a few important levels.
The first and foremost concern for any service provider must always be fulfillment of the needs of the customer. As we approach 2021, after everything that has happened in 2020, we must closely examine and discuss how those needs have changed. If you entered 2020 committed to keeping everything IT running for your customers because that’s what they most needed, entering 2021 will be different.
Customers need to continue to adapt operations to a new normal, one that may never revert back to the previous. Many companies are discovering tremendous advantages in having everyone work from home (WFH) and have followed the leadership that companies like Twitter showed at the very beginning of the pandemic. They don’t intend on having everyone return to offices.
You’ll want to help your customers explore how they can extract even more value from the WFH revolution. What technologies have they not yet considered deploying that would even further improve their operating efficiency? Have they maximized what workflow automation can do for them? Unified communications as a service? Collaboration technologies?
While these are all technology discussions and decisions, they’re all very focused on how your customer runs their business. Your role shifts from trusted technology adviser to major strategic business partner and advisor. They’re depending upon you to best help them improve business operations as they face one of the most dramatic pragmatic changes ever.
Can you afford not to make this kind of shift? Can you afford to remain simply an operational contractor?
Best to suspect that the answer is no. More and more customers are expecting more and more from their suppliers and contractors. Just as break-fix gave way to managed services, managed services is now giving way to business technology partner.
Recognize the important advantages this new relationship offers to you and your practice.
As a maintainer of their computer network, you are pretty easily replaced. More of your knowledge is about technology than about their strategic planning. Your competitors have similar knowledge of technology. They can readily step in should situations change.
On the other hand, as a major component of their strategic planning and execution, you become more and more irreplaceable. It’s also important to recognize why this is the case! Put most simply, you are delivering far more value to your customer and the more value you provide the harder it will be for them to even want to part with you. Many talk about “stickiness,” but in the final analysis that’s a tactic. You’re increasing your relationship resilience by increasing your value. In the truest sense of the phrase, there’s nothing like the real thing. Customer value!
Opportunity for the Future as a Strategic Partner
When you expand what we’ve been discussing here, you become more aware of how much competition is growing up all around you. The rush of refugee resellers to join the ranks of the MSP continues, and many are still not preparing properly for that change. The result is competition that damages the name “MSP,” making it harder for you to gain customer trust.
If the IT channel has learned anything over the years, its that you must always be innovating, changing, growing and increasing your value proposition for customers. Thankfully, technology is the gift that keeps on giving new ways to achieve that.
It’s pretty unreasonable to expect that to continue forever. Fifty-five years ago, in 1965, when Intel co-founder Gordon Moore first predicted that the number of components on an integrated circuit would double each year, he set a limit of 65,000 components by 1975. At that point, he doubled his estimate to doubling every two years. Today, major institutions like MIT, IEEE and others are asking if we’re ready for Moore’s Law to “die.”
The meteoric growth of our industry is directly correlated to Moore’s Law, so we need to take this question very seriously. While the growth and development of technology must inevitably slow, the ingenuity and innovativeness you bring to it doesn’t.
While everyone else busies themselves forecasting what new widgets we’ll be working with, invest more of your time and premonition on what creative new strategic advantages you will be bringing to your customers. Become their Major Strategic Partner.
Happy New Year!