Changing your business model certainly isn’t easy. Those solution providers who moved to the cloud or added a cloud practice can validate the work and complexity required to do it successfully. Whether they were responding to their clients’ current (and/or future) needs or retooling to improve their own business prospects, the path can be a bumpy one.
Today’s VARs and MSPs have to be increasingly intuitive to survive in a highly competitive business environment where customers have so many choices and so many continually shifting priorities. That’s why cloud practices are so useful today, offering the flexibility providers and their clients need to thrive. Of course, those offerings need to be continually evaluated and adapted to ensure they’re successful.
In an era where the cost of entry into the cloud services market continues to drop, its commoditization is happening much faster. Solution providers have to consistently up their game with the mix of “value add” that best supports their target audience. In other words, a cloud practice must be dynamic to succeed over the long run. It’s about providing a superior end user experience and becoming a more proactive participant in a client’s business, giving them better tools, support and the information required to take their organization to the next level. If you don’t keep pace, your company is apt to stumble, if not take the same death spiral thousands of small businesses follow every year.
Build on Others’ Success
At last month’s Continuum user conference, Navigate, our team facilitated the CompTIA Executive Certificate in Cloud (Intermediate) courses, which included a number of best practices that can help providers build more formidable offerings. More than 40 solution providers attended the Day One and, thanks to the interactive format, the conversations were as insightful as the content.
A number of attendees shared their own personal experiences with building and fine-tuning their operations. The collaborative break-out sessions for creating a sales playbook were especially insightful, with some successful cloud professionals offering up great advice to their peers, including:
- Hire those who already know how to sell to specific verticals. While you can teach the tech, it’s much harder to build trust and relationships, and to learn the language and commonly-accepted practices. For example, look for successful pharmaceutical or medical equipment professionals when you build a healthcare IT practice. They know who makes the purchasing decisions (or influences them) and understand the workflows and what value propositions have the most merit.
- Document, document, document. Just having a process isn’t enough, every procedure should be carefully detailed so others can replicate it if, and when, needed. Input each document into the company professional services automation (PSA) and training files to ensure they are readily accessible. From selecting new cloud vendors to phone procedures for the help desk, make sure someone has the information required to complete the task handily if you aren’t around.
- The biggest objection has moved from security to data ownership. While somewhat related, businesses want to know where their data is kept today and how they can get it back when their vendor/solution provider relationships end. Security is still big, but information control is more critical for many organizations.
This is just a very small sampling of the advice shared by participants of the training class. Our discussions and material covered everything from selecting the right cloud model for your particular customers to building a business transformation strategy to capitalize on all the new opportunities.
The Executive Certificate in Cloud (Intermediate) course curriculum is just one of the many educational resources CompTIA offers to help solution providers build, fortify or transform their organizational practices. From channel-oriented research and white papers to instructional guides and business tools, members have access to a literal treasure trove of material to increase their cloud IQ and expertise.
Just like your managed IT services program, implementing a cloud services practice will require continual attention to ensure it will meet the current and future needs of both your existing and prospective clients. The best way to get a leg up on the competition is to do your homework and build a true value-added complement of services, including consulting, design, implementation, end user training and, of course, support.
Why go it alone? Use the best practices of your peers and your trusted industry association. Check out all the cloud-specific business resources CompTIA and its members have developed and assembled ─ just for you.
By Lily Teplow
By Gretchen Hoffman
By Gretchen Hoffman