Karen Griffith, Practice Lead, Cloud Solutions EMEA has over 15 years’ experience in the IT industry. She and her highly skilled technical team work with customers within the full lifecycle of Cloud Services, from the initial asset discovery, pre-sales including POT’s and POC’s, to the Cloud Strategy and Architecture Services and on to the cloud migration, transformation and automation services
We all want to say yes to our customers and everyone I meet prides themselves in providing their customers with a great service. But for many businesses working in the managed services industry, finding the balance between offering your customers the support they need across numerous different technologies verses being able to maintain a healthy profit is a constant and intense balancing act.
In many ways you could view it as a simple input/ output equation. Inputs include the price your customer is willing to pay and the quality of service they need and want. The output is what it costs you to provide the required level of service to your customer. The input is determined by competition, market and economic factors, etc. But for the purpose of this discussion, let’s look more closely at the output elements.
Let’s face it, in a competitive market, no one wants to tell a customer to look at another provider. So many service providers find themselves trying to support a very broad range of technologies, some of which can be very niche. To do this, you need to recruit the right staff in terms of skills, experience and attitude. You also need to keep certifications current. You need to make sure the people you have are neither over nor underutilised. Importantly you need to keep costs as low as possible to be competitive. To do all of this can be an incredible challenge and one of the barriers to entry in the market.
I have worked in the managed services sector for the last 10+ years, and personally experienced the challenges businesses face around balancing the need to expand the breadth of capabilities without affecting the quality and depth of technical skills and expertise. Mix in with this the need to keep up to speed with market shifts and new technologies, it makes the technical growth of managed services a continuously challenging cycle. I am not aware of a magic wand or quick fix that can help a managed service provider extend their market reach apart from maybe a large injection of money, a luxury, many businesses in the current climate do not have.
There is of course a very innovative option for dynamic service providers. That solution is based on collaboration and to lean on the skills of IT distributors. Many of the large IT distributors are global organisations with army’s of technical experts supporting all manner of data centre and third platform technologies for customers around the world. My role at Avnet over the past 5 years has been to help service providers provide managed support to their customers without them having to make large upfront and potentially risky financial investments. The service providers I work with want to be able to always say yes to their customers’ support requirements. But often the service provider is very conscious that profitability means sustainability. Sometimes the technology is outside their area of core expertise. Other times they need help dealing with peaks in demand where it is not always wise to increase the size of in house resources. Our service provider customers lean on us to provide seamless manage support on their behalf. It affords greater flexibility to scale and adapt to changing business requirements and needs quickly and successfully. Outsourcing to a trusted partner like Avnet, can deliver greater benefits to customers and partners when planning to grow their portfolio capabilities. It provides direct access to Avnet resources, skills and technicians who are innovative, creative, trusted and up to speed on the market technologies, trends and demands.
At Avnet we have the same challenges as any of our service provider customers. But the difference is, we have the global scale that makes it far easier to overcome some of these challenges. I’m really pleased with the strong technical team we’ve built. Datacentre, cloud, security & networking, mobility, internet of things and analytics are key areas where we can help plug technology gaps. Service providers use us to provide operations, incident support or continual service improvement. It is quite normal to tailor a bespoke support solution to fit a partner’s or customers specific needs and requirements. For us, the focus is helping managed service providers extend their reach into the market to open up more opportunities, develop annuity revenue and drive profitable growth.
With success comes the business case for service providers to invest in their own teams. It represents a far less risky way to run a successful managed service provider.
To find out more about the tailored support solutions that Avnet can offer feel free to contact Avnet’s support services team: man-sol.emea[at]avnet.com