In addition to the actual offerings provided, the services and service levels delivered can be a source of differentiation, both before and after the sale. Here are a few ways service providers can deliver differentiated services:
In the retail industry, brands have been built based on customer satisfaction. In the cloud, it is important to recognize that service expectations and differentiators will vary according to the cloud model. On the one hand, some IaaS models are built on no phone or email support. Users submit a credit card, get provisioned, and are pointed to Web pages for support. However, most customers will look for more support in the cloud, and this is where service can be a differentiator. Instead of looking at building up the support infrastructure as a cost, view it as an opportunity to add value and gain differentiation.
Another opportunity may be realized through service packaging. Particularly as small and medium businesses grow more reliant on the cloud, leaders will get increasingly frustrated with dealing with one vendor for email, another for backup and recovery, and so on. They’ll want one “throat to choke” when it comes to tracking service levels. Longer term, they’ll also see opportunities through having disparate services delivered and supported in a more integrated fashion. Just as in the vertical segment, this type of service packaging can set the stage for winning differentiation.
Managed Cloud Services
For many clients, initial encounters with cloud models can vary substantially. For example, while the cloud offloads hosting, it doesn’t offload ultimate responsibility for customer service and service levels. In IaaS, for example, after computing instances are provisioned, customers are on their own in terms of applications, patching, backups, monitoring, and so on. Many early cloud deployments fit this model.
Because managed services require human involvement, they are typically too complex to deliver profitably in an elastic cloud environment. This has hindered cloud adoption, since customers need managed services to make the cloud work for them. By addressing this need, service providers can deliver significant value and differentiation. In fact, leading cloud providers like OpSource (now a part of Dimension Data), Rackspace and SoftLayer are now offering managed cloud services. The bottom line is that service providers can help customers achieve their service delivery goals by delivering managed services on top of the flexible, scalable cloud platforms.
IT Management as- a-Service is a key capability for organizations looking to deliver managed services in the cloud. Through its cloud delivery and its capabilities for remotely and uniformly tracking services across disparate deployments, IT Management-as-a-Service makes it practical to deliver managed services on top of cloud platforms. Providers can initially have customers start with basic levels of service and availability, and then offer them options such as dashboards, reporting and alarming that increase value and margins. By combining automated, efficient service delivery with service provider expertise, your organization can make it easy for customers to deploy and consume these value-added services, so the upsell is painless and compelling.
There’s a lot that goes into making a move to the cloud a success, the strategies outlined above should provide some useful advice for those charting their options. While this next step in your business’ evolution will require some changes, making the effort and investments can provide big dividends.
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