Managed Services – what does that mean? If I am a small business owner, what do managed computer services do for my business?The trend in the small business computer space has been this push towards “managed services” over the past few years. Everybody wants to jump on the managed services bandwagon. Is this the magic pill that will save your small business practice? Trends are shifting toward software and hardware as services rather than products, but what does this mean to the owners of small businesses?Managed Services in the small business computer space is really a service offering small business specialists are using to extend a level of service where they can better take care of small business technology needs. It offers a full-time computer help desk or IT department that allows the small business to focus on their business and leave the headaches associated with technology to their trusted solution provider.The problem is that today’s small business consultants and owners of small business computer shops are too focused on delivering this managed services offering and forgetting about the client’s needs. I have attended conferences in the past three to four years where the same conversations are always occurring around how to compensate employees, how to bill, what services are offered and many more about how to the deliver the service. Why is this? Are we as computer consultants losing focus on what is important to our business?
I have always focused on what the client needs. However, is the market fully aware of what the client needs from a managed services approach to computer support? Do small businesses really want managed services? Everyone in the IT space is jumping on this bandwagon and believe they know what the client needs with managed services but have they forgotten to ask the client.Managed services needs to be positioned to small business owners in such a manner that shows real benefit to a small business. The “managed services” terminology is a predictable expense for a small business. Their IT support can now become a consistent expense throughout the course of the year which lets a small business budget their IT support costs throughout the year.Small Business today needs to be educated so that they understand what a managed services solution will do to benefit their business. The popular phrase that the your existing or prospective client will always ask, “what is in it for me” rings true in this technology dependent market. It is not about what is in it for the computer consulting firm– always what is in it for the client. I am seeing that small business IT support firms are still too focused on what is in it for them, and losing focus on what is it for the client. The small business specialists that clearly understand how to meet the client’s wants and needs, will always win.The term “managed services” is over used. I have taken the approach that we are a Professional Services Organization and do not even the term, mention managed services to the end client. When you shift your mindset to offering a professional service and provide small business with a professional services offering, it doesn’t matter if you bill hourly, monthly, annually– it is about the services you offer and how you take care of your client.The small business market is made up of four buying groups: stable, mass target, tipping and tipped. The tipped market is actively looking for a new solution to resolve their pain; these are the 3% of the market that are actively looking to replace their existing service offering. The tipping group can be tipped over to a new approach to help with their needs; these are the 7% of the small business market that can be persuaded to look into new offerings to better their business. The mass target is an approachable group that may not be aware they need a new solution. They are unaware that their IT systems are having challenges or specific areas are not even being looked after; 40% of your potential sales can come from this market. The stable market is not even looking; this is about 50% of today’s small business market.
Small Business computer consultants need to concentrate on what is best for their clients. It is time to stop the over use of the term “managed services” and just take care of the client’s needs. You can have the best managed services business, however, if you focus too much on your internal company needs and forget about the client needs, you will end up with a well planned managed services business, but no actual business.