Businesses often take years to develop a sterling reputation. Yet, it only takes one slip, one promise unfulfilled, to undo years of hard work and diligence. In a community as tightly-knit as the office technology space, one piece of bad news travels 10 times as fast as 10 positive reviews, and the dealer is left to pick up the pieces and mitigate any possible fallout.
Perhaps nowhere else is this truer than in the realm of managed IT. It’s been said that one of the biggest mistakes dealers make is not in fully committing to managed IT as a distinct line of business. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum lies the fear of over-selling your competencies, at the risk of unraveling (in some cases) decades of credibility in the copier/MFP arena. It could be said that the only thing worse than not selling something you have is selling something you don’t have, or severely lack.
“Nothing will ruin your reputation as a managed service provider like promising something you can’t deliver on,” noted Greg VanDeWalker, senior vice president of IT Channel and Services for Collabrance and GreatAmerica Financial Services. “We’ve seen it happen, and it’s not unique to copier companies getting into IT. We’ve seen managed IT companies getting out over their skis.”
Part of the beauty in enlisting the services of a Master MSP such as Collabrance is that it offers an all-encompassing managed IT platform with fully-vetted partners and components. They have a successful blueprint and processes for not only all the current needs that a dealer needs to deliver to its customers but also a technology roadmap that anticipates future needs. As dealers look to spread their offerings, whether hardware- or managed-based, there comes peace of mind in knowing that whatever is in a Master MSP’s toolbox can be confidently sold without fear of overcommitting.
“One thing that surprises a lot of MSPs who try to build their own managed IT platform is they don’t realize how much time it takes to vet the different technology partners that you have to do business with,” he added. “Managed IT services is a very fast-paced market, there’s a lot of players and that takes a significant amount of time. We take that vendor management and product development burden off our partners, and our subject matter experts do it on their behalf. Some organizations have one person dedicated to vetting and maintaining their vendors. That’s a pretty big expense because it’s critical.”
Once a concern for enterprise-level organizations, security has become a major IT concern for the entire business community. Michael Amiri, senior director of Dealer Services at Continuum, points out that while the internet is a vast ocean of immense information and productivity, it contains a bottomless trench of security risks. Fortunately, the heightened risks have raised customer awareness.
“The average business owner or decision-maker may know little about the inner workings of a server room, but they are acutely aware of the legal risks and business impact that a security breach could have on their organization,” he said. “Dealers must enhance their managed IT services offerings to include security services to keep pace with the ever-changing landscape of the IT marketplace to ensure they are on the cutting edge of IT vendor service deliverables.”
Collabrance offers a 19-point security offering that is destined to grow as technology and threats evolve, and it is generally a factor that is overlooked by dealers who choose to attack managed IT on their own, according to VanDeWalker. With most end users having that one employee who will click on anything or open every attachment, dealers need to invoke behavior modification training and awareness programs, which many Master MSP platforms offer.
A number of OEMs, including Canon and Konica Minolta, are already offering their own or partnered solutions for security cameras, door access and systems for dealers to provide physical security tools. The unfortunate reality is that many schools and school districts are seeking initial or upgraded security monitoring systems; a dealer at the recent One Canon Event last month shared a particular success story. Given the strong relationships many dealers count in the educational arena, this will be an undeniable growth area as a managed IT adjacency.