When Darwin spoke of “survival of the fittest,” he was referring to the evolution of biological species. The most successful, he argued, leave copies of themselves in the generations that follow.
The same argument applies to the IT channel. Since its inception with the arrival of the PC, the channel has embarked on an evolutionary process that rewards successful business models and weeds out players that can’t keep up. New channel entrants often copy aspects of successful predecessors to guarantee their own success while acquiring the new traits to facilitate their survival.
This is what we have seen for at least a dozen years in the managed services branch of the IT channel. MSPs (managed service providers) have absorbed the characteristics of the reselling and integration businesses that came before them, and built upon them to create a business model more closely aligned with day-to-day customer operations and strategic goals.
We can map the evolution of MSPs back not only to the VARs (value added resellers) that bought hardware and software from suppliers and resold it to customers, but also to the network integrators that installed, managed and maintained their customers’ IT environments. VARs themselves evolved from the computer and printer deals that essentially started the IT channel.
For managed services to emerge as a viable model, the right elements had to be in place – affordable systems monitoring technology and an evolved perspective on the role of IT. As opposed to fitting business operations to the available technology’s capabilities and methods, we now view IT in a support role for business operations and strategic goals.
Pioneering MSPs had to figure out a new business model by themselves, often uncovering the right approach through trial and error. Now new MSPs and VARs looking to migrate to the model can skip most of that by copying what early MSPs did right.
In our new guide, Managed Services Matters: A Roadmap for Enduring Business Success, we take the mysticism out of the managed services model by breaking down the elements that make it work. For instance, we go over in detail why focusing on customer value, as opposed to price, is a more desirable approach.
The guide covers a range of topics of interest to managed services businesses, including aspects of internal operations such as whether to open a NOC (network operations center) or partner with a vendor for NOC services. The document covers best practices such as customer contracts, SLAs (Service Level Agreements), onboarding new customers, and marketing strategies.
The guide also covers how to prepare for the future as new technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) start to catch the attention of your customers.
Managed Services Matters guide can be leveraged as a road map to ease you into the managed services model by sharing the experiences and best practices of other MSPs that have succeeded in this space. Call it a shortcut for the “survival of the fittest.” Of course, we can’t guarantee you success, but by following the guide, you’ll have a leg up on competitors still learning only through trial and error.
To learn more about our Managed Service Provider Program, click here.