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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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Apple Video

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Apple – Bigger Than Microsoft? How Can That Be?

Apple, $683, Microsoft $338 Billion (Market Cap).  Wow! (Be Sure to watch the video above).

This morning as I read this I was thinking about my Mac 128 – the one I purchased as part of Drexel University’s computer science program – one of the first accredited computer science programs offered in the U.S.  It was a great computer and it was the first Mac.  Today I’m sitting in front of my Macbook Pro. This one actually has a hard drive in it…I’m connected to various cloud apps, made calls to Europe on it this morning, and am sharing documents around the world, monitoring the other Mac’s on my local network, and syncing with my iPhone – the other half of my IT infrastructure.

How did Apple get here?

If you’ve not read Steve Job’s life story, I highly recommend it – if you’re in the IT space. If you’ve read it, you know what I’m saying when I say, “I had no idea.” Back in 1984 I had no idea who Apple really was, who Steve Jobs was, or Bill Gates. But reading about Steve’s life has been eye opening at the least. Regardless of the baggage you’ll read about, he was a genius. It’s amazing story or rags to riches…Blog Subscribe Ad

Now, have you read Simon Sinek’s book, Start with WHY? Interesting, Simon wrote this book in 2009. Apple was growing – but Simon had no idea Apple would be where they are today. Looking back at what he wrote, his wisdom is validated. People buy your WHY before they buy your WHAT. If you haven’t read his book – you should read it now. Apple is the company he’s talking about.

Taking the Risk vs. Following the Trend

Today’s Business Times article explains how Apple got to where they are today.  Read it!  <<  CLICK.

The iPhone – Steve was right. People can do everything they did on iPods, with a phone. And by making the phone bigger, they not only cannibalized  their iPod business, they ate into their tablet business.  “The most successful companies need a vision, and both Apple and Microsoft have one. But Apple’s was more radical and, as it turns out, more farsighted. Microsoft foresaw a computer on every person’s desk,… But Apple went a big step further: Its vision was a computer in every pocket.” (BusinessTimes).

The article goes on the show that “Microsoft has repeatedly tried to diversify, and continues to do so … But “it’s been more of a follower whereas Apple has been more of a trendsetter.”

The Wake Up Call To Resellers

This business is changing. I don’t know how long Apple can hold this leadership position. No one stays in front forever. But the bigger thing on my mind as I read this is the technology reseller business. Years ago Novell led the charge in building a successful channel – many have followed, and  there are some great channel programs out there. But the technology sales business is changing. In the 90s, Unix systems made the firm I was working for very successful. In 2000 it was VoIP. in 2003 I was running my own consulting company, helping resellers convert to Managed Services.

Those who are still hanging onto these offerings are doing the opposite of what Apple is doing. There are two things to focus on right now – helping clients gain a competitive advantage (largely through software), and helping them build in greater levels of security as they transition to cloud, BYOD, and online collaborate tools.  Those who wait will be too late.

© 2015, David Stelzl

P.S. Do You Have Your Copy of The NEW House & The Cloud?  << Get it on Amazon…

Did you see this in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal?  “How Microsoft can become the next Apple. Struggling to regain momentum and capture the imagination of consumers and employees, Microsoft Corp. has pinned its hopes on the Windows 8 operating system, which powers tablets and smartphones in addition to notebooks and desktops. If Windows 8 doesn’t do the trick, its board may very well heed insistent investor calls for CEO Steve Ballmer’s head; if it does so, there may be only one person who can step in with the instant respect of Microsoft’s top lieutenants, and the clout to implement major changes in the company: Bill Gates. Just as Steve Jobs provided a fresh perspective and new singularity of purpose when he returned to lead the company he helped found, if Mr. Gates were to return to Microsoft’s helm, “people would get excited,”…

Simon Sinek provides a simple explanation, and even uses Apple as the example.  I’ve shared this video before, but in light of this quote, it’s worth repeating:

© 2013, David Stelzl

Walking along the Arabian Sea

Yesterday we completed day 2 of the Making Money with Security workshop – working on messaging.  Wherever I go, there seems to be a disconnect between marketing and sales…at some point in the value proposition development portion of my workshop, I ask someone to show me what they would deliver if given a high level appointment today to talk about security, and what their company can offer.  There is always a hesitation – no one wants to stand up and show me.  Why?  Usually it is because after a day and a half of discussion on messaging, they realize their presentation does not contain the elements of a great security approach.  Marketing has delivered a set of slides with talking points that are all about them and their product.  There is nothing new, nothing educational,…nothing amazing.  No call to action other than – let us know if we can help.  Nothing to cause the meeting attendees concern within their own business and approach.  Yet every day companies like RSA, Microsoft, the Income Tax division of India, etc. are defeated by cyber criminals.  There is an urgency; why can’t we demonstrate this in our messaging?

© 2011, David Stelzl

At the end of yesterday’s Making Money with Security Online class I mentioned the upcoming “Principles of an Effective Value Proposition” online program scheduled in April.  There is nothing worse than sitting through a terrible presentation or being stuck in boring meeting for several hours.  So why would we subject our prospects to this kind of torture?  To get us started, here are ten things that will absolutely kill a Power Point presentation… 

1.     Opening with an agenda slide – your first task is to grab the audience’s attention; the agenda slide is a sure way to lose everyone.

2.     Using the standard bullet point format in Power Point – this makes for boring slides with too many words.

3.     Showing slide after slide of meaningless numbers, statistics, financials, with values that are too big to comprehend.  The human brain needs a comparison when dealing with large numbers – a point of reference.  A slide or 2 is okay, but don’t go overboard on statistics and sound bites.

4.     Talking about “Self”.  Especially true when presenting to new prospects – no one cares about your company before there is a reason to do business.

5.     Bad colors and no graphics.  Most people are visual.  They want to see pictures – this is why people watch movies rather than listen to stories on the radio.  If you want your information to be memorable, use grabbing graphics!  The best way to do this is by changing the slide background to an image.

6.     Reading your slides – no! Look at the audience.  This requires that you know your material.

7.     Too many words on the slide.  If your audience can’t read the whole slide in a few seconds (5 or 6 words) you’ve lost them.   They will either listen to you or read the slide…most will read the slide and ignore you.

8.     No climax. A presentation must build.  If it’s flat people will lose interest quickly.

9.     Obvious.  Most sales presentations look exactly the same.  They discuss company background, offerings, features, a few client names, etc.  This is predictable, boring, and obvious.

10. When he presenter is not a speaker.  This is the final presentation killer.  If you’re going to stand up in front of a crowd, you had better be good.  This is not a genetic trait.  It’s simply a matter of learning the skill and practicing until you’re great at it.

© 2011, David Stelzl

After attending and speaking at dozens of channel partner meetings and hundreds of reseller workshops I’ve had opportunity to interview and speak with many business owners and sales people on the topic of value – just how much value is there in attending these events.  Listen to what I’ve learned about channels, resellers, distributors, and vendors…

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When little gadgets like the iPad command greater attention than just about anything you sell, the technology business is in trouble.  That is, unless you have something greater than the product to vend.  It was bad enough that half the emails I was receiving said they were sent from the iphone (which we Verizon customers still don’t have), but now the other half are coming from the iPad!  Where are we headed?  I’m changing my signature to read, sent from my MacBook Pro, which supports more apps, has a bigger screen, and consumes more power! (Right about now I am loving the fact that I upgraded from Microsoft Windows earlier this year.)

The real issue of course, is that the product can’t be the center of attention.  If you you work for Apple, perhaps your real value is innovation.  If you are a reseller it must be intellectual capital.  If you work for just about any product company, you had better have some niche, or you’ll be what Geoffrey Moore once called the Chimps, always trying to steal market share from the Gorilla.  Or, perhaps you’ll learn the same lesson we all need to learn…that the message, the marketing, and the intellectual capital are more valuable than just about any product.  Certainly in the long run this is true.

© David Stelzl, 2010

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