XChange 2017: MSPs Need To Become A True Virtual CIO For Customers, Not A Virtual 'Captain Obvious'

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MSPs should track and minimize their reactive support hours and use the freed-up time to become a true virtual CIO for clients, said Gary Pica, founder and president of TruMethods, in a session at  XChange 2017.

They also need to move away from technology pricing focused on tools, features and support and toward value-based pricing, which instead addresses how their services impact the entire business, said Pica.

Surrounding yourself with the balance sheet for the whole business rather than just the IT department will make the per-seat charge for managed services look relatively small by comparison, he said, thus enabling MSPs to raise their rates.  

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"We're a relatively small cost to our customers," Pica said during an executive session Monday at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee, Fla. "They just don't see it that way unless we explain it that way."   

Too many MSPs fail to be truly proactive in their relationships with customers, Pica said, leaving them to make the same recommendations that everybody else would make. As a result, Pica said the MSP's virtual CIO function becomes more of a virtual "Captain Obvious."

"If you don't understand their business, you can only give them the same advice as everybody else," Pica said.

The channel's relationship with customers will shift from being technical to primarily business-oriented as the evolution to the cloud continues, Pica said. MSPs should therfore focus on how well the end user's technology aligns with their standards, Pica said, and demonstrate the business impact of those misalignments.

"This is the part we're going to be left with, or you'll be left with less," Pica said.

Therefore, Pica said MSPs need to know much more than technology. For starters, Pica said they should know the business challenges, risks, vision, core value, competition, competitive advantage, market position, and margins for each customer.  

The main barrier to gathering that customer information, Pica said, is all the time MSPs are sinking into fulfilling ticket requests today. If they are able to successfully control the number of reactive service requests generated by clients, Pica said their value as a true business partner will rise.

"How much time do you spend on reactive support?" Pica asked the audience. "What's left above that is the time you're providing higher-level services."

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