IT services have fallen victim to a never-ending cycle of evolution. What was once the latest trend is now a thing of the past. Technology catalogs have been recycled and discarded in favor of online distribution. Transactional revenue is out, and recurring revenue is in. Break-fix business models, VARS, SIs, and on-prem technology are yesterday’s news. Today, it’s about managed services and cloud solutions. Oh, and on Tuesdays, we eat tacos. Keeping up is exhausting.
To be honest, unless we’re trendsetters, we’d be lying to ourselves about our businesses ability to maintain pace with an always fluctuating industry. Brian Sherman of CompTIA all but confirmed this in his piece, The Not So Dirty Secrets of Managed Services. In it, he pulls back the veil and discusses perception verse reality as it pertains to managed services businesses, products, and customers.
So what are these secrets? What exactly are we hiding?
Well, it's pretty simple. The industry has been beating us over the head with the idea that the only way we can achieve success in IT is to become a managed services provider. Many of us are still offering other solutions to our customers; it’s just not something we choose to advertise. Don’t take it the wrong way we aren’t saying we as MSPs are being dishonest or misleading with our potential customers; it’s that we want them to buy our preferred offerings instead.
To stay competitive, many of us advertise 100 percent managed services to new customers, but have grandfathered in other services for our existing partners and those who ask. Because we’re in Seattle, we like to think of it like ordering off the secret menu at Starbucks—the products customers want exists, but only if they ask. And as it turns out, we're not the only ones 'hiding' services. According to CompTIA research, just 30 percent of surveyed MSPs claim managed services as their highest revenue producer.
So why then is everyone saying managed services are the only options and anything else is an antiquated way of operating? Sherman tells us that, “for every provider who sticks to his or her principles and promises to ‘fire’ any client that won’t transition to the managed services model; there’s another who will continue the status quo.” For many of us, it’s about staying in the game long enough for our stubborn customers to accept the transition to managed services.
We as MSPs are between a rock and a hard place. How do we provide the services our customers want while continuing to keep pace with the changing technology environment? Sometimes we can’t. The reality is, no matter how we choose to deliver services, our customers now have all the power. We typically do what they need or ask, because to run a successful business means we go where the money takes us.