Archives For Mac

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.

Advertisements

Photo taken by David Stelzl

A couple of attendees emailed questions regarding competitive advantage…following Wednesday’s Cisco sponsored webinar.  I thought it might be helpful to address this here:

(Q) Why is Operational Efficiency or Risk Mitigation easier to sell than Competitive advantage?

First, it’s important to note, I did not say you can’t sell using competitive advantage as your value proposition, but rather, operational efficiency and risk mitigation are preferable; at least to the average sales person.  Here’s why…

Companies can use technology to compete, however this type of advantage is often short lived unless the company deploys some type of unique patented technology; something their competition can’t go out and buy tomorrow.  More often than not, technology driven competitive advantage is really an operational efficiency gained by the perfection or automation of some process.  So in the end, it’s really an operational efficiency sale, that in-part, delivers competitive advantage, in addition to delivering cost efficiencies (which their competition will either adopt or find another way to accomplish).  The technology sales person’s ability to foresee such an advantage in a complex manufacturing situation (for instance) is not so likely.  (Again, speaking of the average rep calling across many verticals).

True competitive advantages are seen when a larger company has more buying power, putting others out of business by squeezing their margins such as is the case with the Home Depot stores competing with smaller hardware stores.  Wal*Mart does this by putting highly efficient distribution processes in place that are unaffordable by the average mom and pop store in your local area.  While Wal*Mart may have some unique applications in place, their infrastructure isn’t really unique, just unaffordable to smaller companies.  The process itself is key, and unique as it is cost prohibitive to the smaller company.

Operational efficiency in itself may offer competitive advantage as seen above, and the seller can use this to gain momentum on the purchase, but the efficiency is more easily articulated by the seller.  To go down the competitive advantage road with technology sales may require a deep understanding of the vertical’s market pressures.  Perhaps if the sales person has come out of that industry, they’ll have success with this.

Competitive advantages not tied to operational efficiency, which stand alone as a true advantage that cannot be duplicated, may come in the form of location such as the best corner owned by McDonalds, exclusive distribution of a product, or patented technology such as the iPad and Mac OS.  These advantages are not easily matched.  Will Dell come out with a better laptop than Mac?  Probably not (in my opinion), however they certainly have a less expensive one.   Note how first to market has earned Apple 90% of the market on tablet computers!  This won’t be easy to steal.  This is hard to match when selling commodity goods which are largely over distributed in the VAR/Reseller world.

© 2011, David Stelzl