IT ChannelVision Europe: Services Is Hot, Says Microsoft Exec


ROME, Italy -- Solutions providers in Europe who want to make money now should get on the solutions and services bandwagon right away, said Dana Manciagli, general manager of the worldwide system builder channel at Microsoft.

Speaking at the IT ChannelVision Europe 2008 conference in Rome last week, Manciagli urged European solution providers to follow their counterparts in the United States and start going after the service business aggressively, especially if they are looking for longevity in their market. "There are more and more companies out there looking for someone else to handle their IT and that someone else could be any one of you," she said. "This is an area where you can make money now, where there is a demand now, not in the future."

Manciagli explained that service side margins are thinning in relation to software and hardware but that's not the case when it comes to the service side. She pointed to statistics that showed that 25 percent of new business software will be delivered as a service by 2011. And that there will be more than $500 billion in profits this year related to solutions and services.

"Once you get in and get a foothold then your future is set because this a long-time, continuing service that you will provide," she said.

Helios Business Computer, a solutions provider in Russia, said it's starting to go after the service sector because it knows that's where its future will eventually be. "For us it's about providing our customers with a complete package, we want to make sure their systems work continuously and if there is a problem we can fix it," said Vladimir Shtey, director of product marketing. "This makes a lot of sense."

To profit from this need and grow their business, Manciagli said solution providers must be "relentlessly focused on customer service." They need to look at the retail experience they offer and ask questions about what worked and what didn't. "It's important to probe their experience out of the box, were they confused, do they feel they are getting high quality support," she said. "Then tailor your long time support services and you will have a long time customer."