Solving The Mystery

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Next month, we&'ll publish the first in a series of “survival guides” intended to help you make informed decisions that drive sales. Part of that report will include the results of a survey about managed services fielded by our sister organization, the Institute for Partner Education and Development.

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One high-level result that shouldn&'t surprise readers: More than two-thirds of the approximately 250 respondents said they already offer something they consider to be a managed service, and another 19 percent said they plan to do so within 12 to 18 months. More than half of those already in the game said

storage management was their primary offering, although network infrastructure and peripherals services were close behind, followed by help desk. Respondents point to security and CRM most often when asked about future plans.

When it came to motives for crafting a managed service, 45 percent of survey respondents said it was mainly about building revenue, while 40 percent pointed to reasons of either competitive advantage or profit margins. Speaking of profit, slightly more than 30 percent of respondents said their managed service already is profitable, while another 27 percent said they believe their offering will reach profitability with 12 months. (Another 23 percent said it could take up to two years for this to happen.) As far as the skills necessary to pull this off, in the view of the respondents, here are the top six: business consulting, technical consulting, sales, software monitoring, hardware monitoring and break/fix.

Obviously there&'s a lot more to share, but I&'ll save it for our special issue, scheduled for March 27. Meanwhile, an observation: I think we&'re making the underlying premise of managed services more mysterious than it needs to be.

Clearly, many solution providers have already crafted services—managed either remotely or on-site—that bring them into regular, proactive contact with their customers. The mystery surrounds how to value that offering, ensuring an adequate return for the platform investments and business-process changes solution providers must make internally while convincing customers to pay a recurring fee for a service that, if managed correctly, should actually be transparent to them.

How do you make the argument for your managed services? HEATHER CLANCY, Editor at CRN, welcomes comments at

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