As an IT solution provider, it’s your company reputation on the line for a seamless, working customer experience. Cloud computing makes the user experience from the road to the desk seamless, but can prove challenging for the IT solution provider to maintain this standard. In an effort to future-proof your business, here are five ways to diversify your cloud offering to ensure operational stability, customer loyalty, and maintain a competitive edge.
1. Standardize vs. Diversify Cloud Providers
There are benefits to standardizing cloud and technology providers within your business. You offer expertise in select technologies and know them intimately to get the most out of the features available. But what happens if there’s an outage? Taking the “too big to fail” approach to cloud providers isn’t recommended.
You need to ensure that critical workloads and components are working 24/7/365 despite the 99.9-percent guaranteed service level agreement (SLA) found on the vendor’s website. AWS has experienced outages in the past, and it’s likely that other cloud providers could too.
On the other side of the spectrum is a portfolio of a bunch of vendors, which brings a different challenge. Vendor management requires a person to maintain the different operational processes, compatibility, too many choices for a client to decide, etc. The key is to strike a balance of standardized (or specialized), but diversified to protect against the unlikely event of an outage.
To help you visualize, this can be leveraging AWS as a primary infrastructure offering, and having your failover/disaster recovery set up in Azure. While you’re paying for two cloud services simultaneously, this in the event of an outage protects your customer for critical, line of business applications.
2. Be a One-Stop Shop
Enhance customer loyalty by ensuring you meet all their IT needs. Every business needs a phone, cyber security, email, and collaboration tools. Email and Microsoft Office are basic, but telephony and cyber security may be a bit more complex. Understand the best way to offer these services without altering your core focus.
If a competitor provides phones for your client, what makes you think they wouldn’t switch the rest of their IT needs someday? Adding telephony doesn’t have to be complicated, and the residuals earned from the agent model can prove to be lucrative.
Cyber security may seem like a daunting task with unwanted liability, but it doesn’t have to be. There are several services available that IT solution providers can white label and do the work for you. You add revenue to the client with a little bit more profit. Services like Recon are proactive monitoring, and with little setup, can save you time and ensure business continuity in the future.
3. Offer One-of-a-Kind Solutions
Stay competitive with your diversified cloud offerings by specializing in a niche market, like healthcare. Healthcare is a broad field, and you can get as granular as dental, doctor offices, hospitals, or pharmacies. Build packaged offerings that cover critical business needs to integrate with applications specific to the segment. For example, a dental office may be using Dentix. Does your solution integrate or solve for business gaps that Dentix doesn’t cover?
To understand a bit more in depth, check out this post, which outlines how a partner, Pharmica, addressed their customer’s unique business needs with cloud solutions.
4. Partner With Complementary Services/Offers
Think outside of the box and connect with non-competitive companies/offers that also help your customer and you. A few ways to approach this can be referral models, cross-promotion, or specialist groups.
- Referral Model – consider collaborating with other companies who would be logical referrals to your clients, and vice versa. This could be as simple as recommending a company with cyber security insurance policies to clients (and the insurance company gives you a “finder’s fee”) alongside your security package.
- Cross-Promotion – Work with businesses to promote each other. You can barter with a community or professional group. In exchange for promoting clients to join, you receive free logo placement on the website or access to regular meetings.
Another idea is to host a partner’s event in your office, put business cards in their retail space, host joint-charity events (great public relations opportunity), or even help promote each other on social media.
- Specialist Groups – consider hosting education events for your customers as it relates to technology. Keeping on top of tech trends may not be their first priority, but it would benefit your business to ensure clients have the basics.
For example, host a networking event. If the focus is cyber security, bring in an expert from the local police department or even the FBI. Is there an association within the field that can lend their knowledge? Going back to the dentist office example, secure someone from the American Dental Association (ADA) as a featured speaker.
Finally, look to other businesses to help you build a niche offering, such as web developers, lending institutions for creative finance options, or even your IT distributor. Distributors offer many services for partners to leverage like finance/credit, marketing, implementation, white-labeled services, and more.
5. Expand Into a New Vertical(s)
Perhaps you already specialize in a market and are looking to add new clients and revenue to the business. Consider expanding into a new vertical or specialty with your solution. Keeping with the dentist example, can you apply the same solution, with a few tweaks to help physician offices?
If you’re looking for bigger results, consider a different vertical altogether. If you specialize in healthcare, look for an industry and customer segment that would have similar budgets (if currently selling enterprise level IT, trying to apply the same solution to a small business would miss their needs completely, and the price point would be misaligned too).
This long-term strategic move can take some market research and business planning to implement. Consider leveraging tools like the Business Model Canvas to review positioning and value statements, pricing, and customer needs before taking the leap.
Diversifying your cloud offerings is important for your long-term business strategy. Connect with your Tech Data Cloud specialist today and let us help you diversify and expand your cloud practice. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-237-893, ext. 82031.