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Daniel Holt, CEO and co-founder of Heit Consulting, a Fort Collins, Colo.-based MSP, agreed that the days of doing just one thing for an end user are over. “Customers don’t want 10 vendors. You have to partner up or beef up,” said Holt. “You can’t be a specific MSP to a specific technology anymore.”
Innovative MSPs talk to customers about “the whole soup to nuts,” including hosted Exchange, SharePoint, compliance and infrastructure management, Holt said. And if you can’t build the business to do that, you need to look for help, he said. “The reason to do that is, looking forward, the whole cloud market. I see in the next three to five years a big push there [toward cloud services],” Holt said.
For example, a customer today that might need 10 servers monitored and managed might have zero or one server of their own in just a few years. “The managed services of buying Kaseya or N-able where you charge per device, that model will go away. It will be per employee, perservice, not per device,” he said. “The other thing you’ve got to be is vertically focused. If you’re not, then you don’t understand their business. You can’t say you understand retail, health care, financial and government. The reason is you need to understand their applications; you need to understand their business. You can’t understand the applications of everything unless you’re IBM Global Services.”
Truly innovative MSPs also are having conversations now with vertical-specific ISVs to ensure that their services can accommodate anything an end user needs, Holt said. “We go outside of managing IT-type services. We provide a managed compliance solution. We manage business continuity planning, policy procedures. We have truly integrated all our systems into one platform,” Holt said.
To Karl Palachuk, founder and CEO of KPEnterprises, a Sacramento, Calif.-based MSP, being innovative is sometimes as simple as keeping up with the latest technology. “As strange as it sounds, the easiest way is to pay attention and integrate new technologies as they emerge. I’m frustrated with people in our industry that don’t [do that],” Palachuk said. “I find people that say, ‘I’m not selling the latest version of this server because clients are not asking for it.’ Of course they’re not asking for it because they don’t know about it. Clients didn’t ask me for the Internet, but I went ahead and installed it for them.”
It’s also important to keep up with technology in-house, Palachuk said. In the managed services market, he said he’s known MSPs who waited four years to select a remote management and monitoring tool.“By the time they made the decision, everybody had already gone to managed services. It’ll be the same now with cloud. Three years from now, people will be asking which cloud solution should they sell.”
Innovative MSPs are not waiting to introduce cloud services to clients, Palachuk said. He recognizes that many small businesses will eventually move to cloudbased solutions and it’s important to be
in front of that trend. “We have our company run in the cloud, and we offer cloud services. We want to be the first person [customers] hear about cloud from, not from some stranger,” Palachuk said.
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