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windowsWindows 10 Is Here – So How Will This Affect Your Managed Services Business Over the Next 12 Months?

Resellers – I’m talking about the SMB VAR that has converted most of the business to managed services.

There are many; if you’re a VAR, it’s you and your competition. Since the late 1980’s, when Microsoft Windows first appeared as a viable business choice, beating out OS/2 for the majority market share, Window’s problems have dominated IT’s time.  This operating system has never really worked – not like other operating systems. If you don’t agree – you may not have experienced the amazing capabilities and stability of IBM Mainframe technology, the OS/400 and it’s System 36 predecessors, and of course many flavors of UNIX. These computers run circles around Windows. But that’s another subject for another day.

The point is, Managed Services has been sold as a way to even out the expense associated with the support nightmares small businesses face every day. And I have to believe that 90% of them, based on many VAR interactions, are Windows problems. What happens to your manage services business if this version actually works?

I Use Mac and Don’t Really Need An IT Group

I started with Apple back in 1984.  In 1987, taking a job with what is now Bank of America, I was forced to move to DOS (which was also extremely stable and easy to use,) and eventually Windows 3.0 (The First real Windows look and feel). Windows 3.0 was not an operating system – it was an overlay that ran on DOS.  Eventually Microsoft turned this thing into a complete operating system – NT.

Remember Vista? Many revisions after the original NT operating system…It was supposed to be the silver bullet. I bought my a new laptop from Dell around that time, with Vista installed. By the time Windows 7 came out I was ready to convert!  I did – I moved back to Apple.  I rarely need any support, and have no regrets. It’s been over seven years now.

Mac People Converting? It’s a Sign.

When Microsoft Windows 7 came out, many of the problems were said to be corrected. And they were. I had one Windows desktop remaining in my office, and immediately upgraded it to the new Windows OS.  Running 4 Macs and one Windows 7 computer was interesting. In case you haven’t guessed, the Windows box was the only system that required frequent rebooting, laborious updates, and periodic wiping and reloading. 

So I was surprised when I read last week in the Wall Street Journal about a Mac follower converting to Windows 10! Something about 10 must be really good!  I guess we’ll see – but what happens to your business if Window’s users suddenly don’t need much in the way of support?

Sure, there will always be a need for some support. The entire city of Charlotte, NC and surrounding 100 mile radius is supported by about 2 Apple Stores. There might be a third.  This is actually good. I mean, computers should be getting better, and software should be more stable over time. This technology is maturing. But what’s you’re next move.

The Point Is, VARs Must Change

I’ve written about this before, but it needs to be written again. I just got off the phone with a long time customer and friend. His business has been very successful over the years – he sells managed services. This year growth is flat. I know many resellers are making money – they’ve built substantial recurring revenue through managed programs. It was the smart thing to do. Those who didn’t do it are probably in trouble right now.

But there’s always a next move. The technology business won’t stand still. And it’s about that time. Regardless of when you made the transition, it was 2003 when the early adopters did it.

You have two choices, the way I see it.  Security or Software. Either help companies make the digital transformation with customer software (a competitive advantage sell) or move to security – intelligent, predictive security. The  technologies are new, but now’s the time to jump onboard.  If not, you might find your Windows 10 customers don’t really need you. After all, it’s moving to the cloud…like just about everything.

© 2015, David Stelzl

P.S. Not related to this post really, but there are some interesting and concerning security issues emerging with the release of Windows 10.  Your team might want to be up on these – might create some new business opportunities.

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If you are reselling technology your business may be headed for trouble.  Don’t expect an economic recovery without taking steps to change your approach to the market…find out why in this video.  In this video I speak candidly to small and mid-sized resellers about market trends and what factors play into future growth and stability.  It’s a sobering message.

Are you keeping up with the tech news?  There are some interesting things happening out there in the midst of a broken economy.  IBM is looking to pick up Sun – whether or not you are in this market or not, there are a lot UNIX servers being sold out there; it’s not all Microsoft.  Can IBM resurrect some of the momentum SUN had in the late 90s?  The more interesting news is Cisco’s entre into the server market.  If you recall a Fortune magazine article last fall detailing Cisco’s  data center strategy, selling enormous switches with a green side to them, this is the next step.  To be honest, I was expecting a storage acquisition by now, leveraging Cisco’s SAN switch technology.  I’m certain this is next.  While it may sound to some like Novell buying Wordperfect, I think there’s more to this.  A recent Harvard Review article provides some insight on what may be happening here: 

  • 1. Taking control of future cloud computing resources
  • 2. Building a compliant infrastructure in expectation of new “green” legislation
  • 3. Redefining data storage and server capabilities as part of the network (Something SUN tried to do from the server side, but never actually succeeded on)
  • 4. Positioning for a more mobile and lightweight computing world that will better serve minis, iphones, and other PDA type technology.

I recommend the Harvard Review article: http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/sviokla/2009/03/does_cisco_have_its_head_in_th.html

But wait!  There’s another side of this.  These companies are expanding their brand and foot print while others are wallowing in economic depression.  They are cutting wasteful spending while spending strategically to grow their brand.  This is part of the downturn strategy.  When things do finally turn around, these companies will have new offerings ready to go, a brand that’s remembered, and cash in the bank to restart their momentum.