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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

Techaisle study reveals top 3 channel partner managed services success inhibitors

Inability to balance product resale and services revenue, inability to adjust to a customer-centric approach and inability to align recurring and non-recurring revenues are severely holding back the MSPs. Since 2008 Techaisle has been conducting managed services studies, both demand side within SMB & Midmarket segments and supply-side within the VARs, MSPs, SIs, SPs, Consultants offering managed services. Each year Techaisle (latest report deliverables are here) has been quantifying what separates the successful and unsuccessful managed services channel partners. And there are several data-evinced barriers to entry and success factors. To understand barriers to entry, it is important to first define the characteristics that are important to success as an MSP. There are many but let us discuss three that always percolate to the top:

  1. The ability to sell services independently from product sales (while maintaining the ability to sell products to customers as well).
  2. The ability to package and efficiently deliver standardized services to multiple customers, growing by expanding portfolios of discrete services rather than by simply agreeing to address sprawling customer requirements on a ‘one-off’ basis.
  3. The ability to align internal processes and costs/cash flow with a recurring revenue (rather than transactional) approach to the business.

Techaisle research substantiates the importance of each of these key characteristics.

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The connection between managed services and SMB business and IT challenges

The subject of “IT/business alignment” has been a hot topic of debate for many years. Yet despite this interest, business and IT interests and objectives frequently diverge. To some extent, this is inevitable: the business is concerned with issues that extend beyond IT, and IT needs to manage issues that are (at least, as long as they are working) beneath the notice of most business professionals. However, today’s business environment is increasingly dependent on IT support, and IT products and services that improve productivity and efficiency or which expand market reach and potential. IT initiatives that can be linked meaningfully to broader business objectives are best positioned to attract corporate support – meaning that products and services that address key business priorities have the greatest potential for growth.

The Techaisle SMB survey, which captured the perspectives of both business decision makers (BDMs) and IT decision makers (ITDMs) in US SMBs ranging from 1-999 employees, looked at key business issues and in particular IT challenges. The list of the most important IT challenges faced by SMBs such as budget constraints and the need to control IT costs and improve justification for new IT investments are both tied to the goal of reducing operational cost, and effective maintenance of current IT infrastructure contributes to reduction in operational uncertainty, and thereby get linked to managed services.

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Europe and US SMBs - Managed services support growth and savings

US and European SMB buyers believe that managed services contribute to both cost savings and to business growth. As the figures below show, managed services is seen as helping buyers to achieve lower IT costs, greater control over IT environments, and higher performance with less IT downtime; managed services also helps businesses to “maintain a lean business environment” and to provide predictable performance, user experience and cost. On the growth side of the equation, superior (relative to internal options) MSP responsiveness to IT problems is seen as a means of achieving better productivity; MSPs are also seen as helping SMBs to maintain focus on core business competency, staying abreast of technology changes and providing support for business continuity and disaster recovery.

54% of US SMBs and 68% of Europe SMBs say that managed services help improve bottom-line, contribute to profitability and reduce costs. On the flip side, 46% and 32% respectively state that they view and have experienced managed services as a technology contributing to growth and revenue. A more detailed look at the data underlying this summary analysis illustrates the many benefits that SMBs obtain from managed services (and MSPs).

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Does channel partner sales cycle vary by cloud delivery and positioning?

Data from Techaisle’s study channel partners (research analysis documented in Techaisle’s series of reports either delivered individually or as Channel Partner Research Annual subscription service) tell fascinating stories. Excerpt from the specific study of 650 US channel partners selling managed services, based on Techaisle’s database of over 250,000 partners, shows that the sales cycle length varies not only by line of business, but also by expertise levels:

  • Cloud provider channel, on average takes 2 weeks longer in its sales cycle as a cloud provider channel
  • Systems Integrators’ average sales cycle is ~1.5X of VARs because of complexity of SI’s engagement with an SMB. VARs, are often selling products into existing accounts, have relatively short sales cycles, while SIs, who are positioning complex solutions, have longer sales cycles than other channel businesses
  • Even a consultant who is usually familiar to an SMB organization has to prove that they are the right partner and it involves building a plan and showcasing why their advice and solution would be ideal for SMBs

More fascinating are the four charts below.

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