In my 2017 year-end post, I talked about what I’ve seen over the past year with our customers, within the industry and what I believe we will continue to see throughout 2018. As we kickoff 2018, things like cloud, AI and deep learning, security and other areas are and will continue to be important. But I also continue to think about the areas I mentioned in my previous post around keeping the lights on, simplification and how organizations will continue to be prudent with their IT spend. This month I want to address this as it pertains to small and mid-sized organizations. In short, I want to discuss why ITaaS matters today and will continue to matter going forward.
Throughout our 35+ year history, we’ve worked with firms of all sizes and types and each have unique needs and challenges. The mid to large enterprise organizations tend to have focus and needs in specific areas (see many of my past posts where I discuss these at length), where the small to mid-sized organizations have more of a need for people to do their IT for them. It’s the those small to mid-size organizations that I believe IT Solution Providers (ITSP’s) tend to overlook for the larger enterprise customers. I also believe small and mid-sized firms know and understand this and it tends to annoy them—and rightfully so.
What do Small and Mid-Sized Firms Need?
What does and a small to mid-sized firm (20-250 users) need when it comes to IT? To put in plainly, they are looking for someone to be their IT department for them. They don’t want to do IT, they want to focus upon running their business and not focus upon IT. They don’t have the time or the gumption to want or need to do IT. BUT—and there’s always a “but” isn’t there? —they need their IT to work. They want and expect “enterprise” class service—IT support and customer service—but they don’t want to pay "enterprise" class pricing. That’s the expectation we see today, especially for smaller and mid-sized organizations. And you know what? They’re right in wanting that.
Simplicity and Ease of Use is What it's all About
We live in a world today where technology and our services just seem to work. Apple and Google (amongst many others) have made that happen. Very simple to use and it just works. Now putting the Apple / Google debate aside here, I believe you’ll agree. However, I do believe Apple is simpler to use—so said this author who is writing this post on an iPad Pro. But here's the rub: because of this simplicity, businesses and organizations have expectation where they want their IT systems and services to work the same way. Just work and be simple to use. Now for anyone that has been in corporate IT for any length of time, that’s not necessarily an easy thing. But small and mid-sized firms are driving that to happen. That makes firms that deliver IT solutions and services, (like us) step up and give them what they need. Simplicity, so they can focus on running their businesses.
The Type of ITSP's Small and Mid-Sized Organizations Want to Work with
So what else do our small and mid-sized customers want from us? They want to know that we are not a fly-by-night organization and that we’ll be around to help them. A firm like Vicom has been around for 35 years and has helped hundreds of firms with their IT needs. AND we’ll be around at least another 35 years in continuing to do that. Customers need to know that. But you know what they don’t really care about? Accolades. We have tons of industry accolades, partner/vendor accolades and awards for the things that we do and have done, attend conferences and speak, are featured in industry publications, etc. But does that matter to the small business that is trying to just get their day to day stuff done? Nope. They just want to know that the firm they choose will be there for them when they need. That’s what they care about.
These firms want to know that we will be there when they need them. That our people are local (not offshore) and live in and around the local communities that we serve. They want to know how we’ve serviced similar businesses and how those other business liked/disliked the services we provided. And they want proof to help quantify that through understanding our quality survey results from other customers. They want to know how quickly we can be there when something goes wrong and help them get back on track, but they also want to know how we can help them be better at what they are doing. So not just help “help me, fix it, I’m stuck”, but “help me make it better” too. These are things that IT Service Providers didn't tend to focus upon in years past with small and mid-sized businesses. ITSP’s spent their time on larger, enterprise customers. How things have changed. Market and customer demands have changed that and it’s a good thing.
Small and mid-sized firm don’t really care about the tools that we use to help them support their environment, unlike our enterprise clients. They want to know that we have good tools and processes in place and good resources within our NOC to help them, but they aren't really concerned about what they are. They just want their IT to work. The rest of it is our problem. That means that we, as an ITSP, better bring value—and bring the best service we can. We can’t bring substandard service just because a firm a small or mid-sized organization. We need to bring them our best.
Demanding Value so they can Focus upon their Business
Our customers are paying us good money and they want and demand value. They are certainly paying a lot less than if they had to hire someone fulltime. That’s where it makes sense for a small or mid-sized organization to work with an ITSP to be their IT department for them. They get the best of both worlds. They get the IT services and outsourced IT department they need, but don’t have to break the bank or hire fulltime IT people to do it. That’s a win/win all around.
Firms get to focus upon running their business, save money versus hiring in, and get to take advantage of IT services and expertise that they would not be able to have otherwise. So, they get a much broader set of skills for much less. And this is a big one: they get a predictable monthly spend. That’s huge. Let me say that again: They know exactly how much they are going to spend each month to support their IT environments. That helps them plan for the future and lets them sleep at night.
Our Director of our Mid-Market Solutions division (Mohammed Yusuf - link his LinkedIn here) and I were discussing this in detail and what we see these small and mid-sized firms need. It's as I discussed above: someone to be their IT department for them, simplicity, predictable spending, and an established local firm to be there for them when they need. Doesn’t sound too unreasonable, does it?
In the end, it’s not really about the IT business for the small and mid-sized organizations we work with, it’s about the people part of the business. Helping their people succeed. The IT is just small part of it. Help the IT succeed and the people will succeed. Help the people succeed and the organization will succeed. And that’s a good thing for all.