2013 News Archive

10/21/2013

ChannelTrends: From Coffee to Cloud, Quality is a Winning Philosophy by Brian Sherman on Wednesday, October 16, 2013

CompTIA Blog

ChannelTrends: From Coffee to Cloud, Quality is a Winning Philosophy

Rather than take the low cost route, savvy entrepreneurs focus their differentiation efforts on the quality, usability and convenience of their product and services portfolio. Starbucks serves as a great example of an organization that took the high road, creating an extremely successful business selling a drink that virtually every restaurant and corner store carries. Who would have guessed so many people would stand in line every day to pay $5 for a single cup of coffee? Apparently, the Starbucks founders did, as the three developed a successful strategy with a focus on excellence in the beverages they serve as well as the overall customer experience.

While the masses may flock to the lowest price, companies that deliver quality services and products also attract a sizable audience. Of course, businesses that focus on excellence are more likely to succeed in the long term, building the customer loyalty and profitability levels needed to meet future growth goals. Strong fiscal health permits greater flexibility and creativity and gives management teams more resources to broaden their promotional and sales activities. While low-price strategies tend to limit those operations, the excellence-differentiator approach has the opposite effect when properly executed.

That lesson is good one for IT professionals to consider when crafting their cloud services model. While pushing a Starbucks-style pricing differential could be a difficult proposition in most competitive markets, solution providers can focus their energy on building and delivering a quality portfolio of services. When IT businesses pay more attention to their specific customer needs and design premier systems and support plans that enhance the overall cloud user experience, they’ve created a real differentiator. With the proper marketing, support and sales people and procedures in place, the opportunities are endless. 

How do providers get started when they want to build a cloud practice that stands apart from the crowd – in a good way? The best method for distinguishing any company begins with acquiring industry certifications and relevant business credentials that not only enhance its skills and efficiencies, but elevate its professional reputation. Accreditation and authorizations offer a number of status-enhancing and promotional advantages to solution providers. For those looking to set themselves apart in the latest service delivery field, CompTIA recently introduced a new tool to assist in that quest – the CompTIA Cloud+ certification. This carefully crafted individual accreditation was designed for experienced network, storage, system and data center administrators and other professionals who are working with cloud and virtualized environments. Any IT business looking to build and promote a formidable new practice with these specializations should encourage, if not incentivize, its team members to seek this designation. 

As cloud becomes a greater part of the corporate IT infrastructure, more businesses will be looking for expert guidance to tailor and implement a variety of solutions to meet their unique needs. With the growth of mobility and remote office technologies, more organizations are shifting their system architecture offsite and their reliance on Web-based technologies is also projected to increase. When solution providers promote their business expertise in these areas, as well as their team’s related certifications, more opportunities are sure to come their way.

The recently released CompTIA Fourth Annual Trends in Cloud Computing end-user study confirmed several of these trends, including several positive developments that VARs and MSPs should be paying close attention to. For example, approximately half of the organizations surveyed indicate that they are becoming more reliant on Web-based solutions for data storage (58 percent), business continuity and disaster recovery (48 percent) and security (44 percent).

Before moving any of those business-critical solutions to the cloud, companies must have confidence in the people and the organization making the migration. Providers with a commitment to excellence and the ability to communicate the high value of their services are likely to garner the attention of those potential clients. Whether aspiring to be the Starbucks of solution provider businesses or just looking to increase application capabilities, the CompTIA Cloud+ Certification will help any IT business meet its future practice goals. 

Brian Sherman is founder of Tech Success Communications, specializing in editorial content and consulting for the IT channel. His previous roles include chief editor at Business Solutions magazine and senior director of industry alliances with Autotask. Contact Brian at Bsherman@techsuccesscommunications.com.

- See more at: http://www.comptia.org/news/blog/view/13-10-16/ChannelTrends_From_Coffee_to_Cloud_Quality_is_a_Winning_Philosophy.aspx#sthash.5bB11P1V.dpuf

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9/2/2013

The Disappearing MSP Middle Class by SMB Nations Harry Brelsford

The maturity of the SMB community is starting to show. In a new series of articles, I detail the current shakeout amongst IT Pros, vendors and other community members that isn’t in any way wrong, it’s just a reality. I’ll explore master MSPs built for scale, lifestyle consultants built for pleasure. Plus I’ll explore the sales agent and contractor community. I’ll even talk about how to “hang on fast” and how you can try to avoid the middle class trap that I’m about to reveal to you.

Power Elite

At the top of the SMB pyramid is the power elite – the master MSP. I say master, because these firms have consciously raised their hands and elevated up to an elite tier. How did they do it? First and foremost, I point to education over luck. And while our audience isn’t necessarily graduate school-level material, you do see the value in peer-to-peer collaboration. Enter the popular peers groups including the SMB Nation Peer Groups (run by Josh Peterson), HTG Peer Groups (run by Arlin Sorenson) and the Taylor Business Groups (run by Larry Schultz). Think of these confidential cabals as a safe environment to share financial information, operations know-how and general business experiences. Put another way, your peer group is your board of directors.

Admittedly, peer groups aren’t for everyone. However, I have found the peer group phenomenon to essentially turn computer guys and gals into serious business people (even the spreadsheet jockeys) who scale up to repeatable and predictable business models. I feel that moving forward, these groups will continue to make it, because they can efficiently amortize the costs of its PSA system, the RMM tool subscriptions and even the annual costs of peer groups that, when fully loaded with travel and conferences, is north of $5,000. Does that make sense?

Another thing the “power elite” enjoy is birds of a feather with their customers. By growing-up to the “M” or midsize space, these master MSPs attract larger, more profitable customers who buy more goods and services. It just works that way--larger customers trust larger service providers. True that.

Names that come to mind for those who have elevated to the power elite include Jamison West and Ray Engler. Peek at their LinkedIn profiles to see if you can discover their secret sauce. It's all about the 80-20 rule, but on a different level: the power elite are the 20 percent that's currently making 80 percent of the sales.

In my next installment, I’ll feature the business coaches who thrive on the middle class with messages of hope to ascend to the upper caste.

Also – join me for our Thursday webinar where I’ll touch on this a bit more. It’s at 10AM PDT, September 5…sign up here.

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8/26/2013

Think Bring Your Own Device Will Go Away?

The future of BYOD revealed!

MaaS360                                                                                  

According to Gartner... 

  • By 2015 mobile application use in the workplace will double
  • By 2017 half of all employers will require employees to supply their own devices 

This leaves you one year to prepare your strategy on how you will deploy, secure and manage tablets and smartphones. Are you ready for iOS, Android and Windows mobility in your organization? What about the trend of wearable tech like smartwatches and Google Glass? 

Download the Gartner Report "Bring Your Own Device: The Facts and Future" for a clear view on today's BYOD trends and what tomorrow will bring.    



Learn The Facts and Future of BYOD!

Download BYOD Report

Gartner, Bring Your Own Device: The Facts and the Future, David A. Willis, 11 April 2013

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8/19/2013

Intelisys Steps Up Carrier, Cloud Services With Higher Up-Front Commissions

By Kristin Bent - CRN

 http://www.crn.com/index.htm

 

Intelisys Monday introduced a new partner program that helps solution providers ease into the recurring revenue model and overcome the cash flow challenges that come with taking the leap to selling cloud and carrier services.

Intelisys' new Advanced Commissions Program, unveiled Monday at UBM Channel's XChange 2013 event in Washington, D.C., lets Intelisys partners choose how they want to receive commissions on cloud and carrier service deals.

The aim of the program, Intelisys said, is to help solution providers maintain the up-front cash flow they've traditionally relied on to run their business, while still building up a long-term recurring revenue base.

 

[Related: Intelisys, ScanSource Forge Channel Cloud Initiative]

"The biggest challenge for VARs has been how to adopt this recurring revenue idea without crushing the cash flow that they have today. That has been the biggest hurdle that most VARs have when they look at pivoting to a recurring revenue model," said Andrew Pryfogle, senior vice president and general manager, Cloud Services and Complex Bids, at Intelisys."We've been talking with hundreds of VARs around the country and we have been formulating what would be the appropriate way to tackle that challenge for them, and that's what we are announcing at XChange."

The new program, Pryfogle said, is actually a revamped version of an Advanced Commissions Program Intelisys already had in place. Through the traditional program, Intelisys would start paying solution providers monthly residual commissions on a deal as soon as the deal was booked, rather than having partners wait the usual five to six months it often takes for these residuals to be paid out.

Through the new program, however, partners can choose to receive a one-time up-front payment, worth up to 60 percent of the total value of the deal, in lieu of these residual commissions. They also can choose a combination of the two, receiving a smaller up-front payment and smaller residuals.

Intelisys is offering a calculator tool for partners to determine the best model for them, and partners can adjust their payment model on a deal-by-deal basis. "They can adjust those levers between up-front and residuals as they want," Pryfogle said.

Intelisys, Petaluma, Calif., is a master agency that's traditionally partnered and gone to market through telecom agents. But the company also has started to build a reputation in the channel as being a master agency that puts a lot of muscle into helping traditional solution providers embrace the fast-growing cloud computing and carrier services markets Earlier this year, Intelisys introduced its Channel Alignment Program, which pairs solution providers with an Intelisys telecom agent to help add cloud and carrier services to their portfolios with minimal impact on their day-to-day business.

Jason Kraft, director of carrier services at FusionStorm, a San Francisco-based solution provider that created its own carrier services practice in 2007, said Intelisys' Advanced Commissions Program seems like a great way to incent solution providers to take a similar leap.

"FusionStorm was an earlier adopter in terms of bringing in a carrier services team into a VAR, but I think if there were programs like this back when we started, it would have absolutely given us even more incentive to invest and grow that business quicker," Kraft said. "The Advanced Commissions Program is really going to be a catalyst in getting more and more VARs signed up."

Mike McElaney, director of carrier services at Presidio, a New York-based based national systems integrator with its own carrier services practice, said the new Advanced Commissions Program will help ensure consistency in commission payment models for Presidio's IT infrastructure account managers and carrier services account managers.

"It resonates across Presidio because commission dollars are traditionally paid in full 45 to 60 days after the sale is closed," McElaney said. "A lot of times the carrier services solutions that we sell are tied directly to the infrastructure projects we are working on, so the IT infrastructure account managers and the carrier services account managers want to be paid the same across the board. Residual payments on carrier services sales does not allow for that." For those solution providers that have embraced cloud and carrier services, the investment is paying off. Tim Kennedy, vice president of carrier services at Carousel Industries, an Exeter, R.I-based solution provider, said Carousel has been investing more heavily in carrier and cloud services over the past few years, with the benefits of that investment really starting to show.

"Carousel has been in business 20 years and we have always been an IT services, voice, video, data and managed services company, but carrier services was relatively new," Kennedy told CRN. "We sold carrier services quietly, without much focus or manpower for several years, but I joined the company about five months to really accelerate our carrier services group and scale it across the country."

Kennedy said that Carousel's carrier services practice has "absolutely" been growing, and that sales in the second quarter were up 42 percent over the first. Kennedy said much of that growth was driven by customer interest in cloud, business continuity and SIP migration services.

FusionStorm's Kraft noted that taking the leap to cloud and carrier services isn't just a smart investment for solution providers, but a necessary one.

"As carriers start to do more in equipment and as cloud becomes more pervasive, traditional carriers are starting to do more business in the world VARs live in," Kennedy said. "And if VARs don't pivot and start offering some of those services themselves, they're going to start missing out on hardware opportunities, too."

Meanwhile, Intelisys' attempts to lure IT solution providers to the carrier and cloud services world through programs like Advanced Commissions, appear to be working. Intelisys' Pryfogle said the company has on-boarded roughly 200 new solution provider partners in the past 18 months.

"It's really starting to accelerate. We are growing by 25 percent a year, and it used to be that 99 percent of that revenue was from the telecom agent community," Pryfogle said. "Our growth now, easily 10 [percent] to 15 percent is coming from the VAR community, and we expect that to accelerate at a much, much faster pace."

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8/12/2013

Internal Reports That Help You Deliver Profitable Services

PRESENTED BY:
Rich Akullian
Rich Akullian - Autotask Corporation

Business Development Manager

Steven Alexander
Steven Alexander - MSP-Ignite

Do you have the right data and reports readily available to help maximize the profitability of your MSP services?

Join us on August 27th at 11AM eastern as industry veteran, Steve Alexander of MSP-Ignite, leads an interactive discussion on the metrics you need to be aware of to reach your desired goals and profits.

Learn how he works with his clients to identify meaningful reports that match an MSP’s business initiatives while minimizing data overload. You will also receive instructions on how to build daily utilization reports that you can create in minutes as well as automate so you receive them daily with minimal extra effort.

Join us for the following takeaways:

  • How to avoid data overload
  • How to stay in touch with your data from 10,000 feet
  • How to automate, automate, and automate!
  • Lessons learned navigating IT services businesses

http://www.autotask.com/WebinarRegistration/index.aspx?w=273564855&source=ew-inv-mspignite-082713

 

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