Yet many remain bound by the same comfort cycle of doing business within core market segments, ignoring opportunities to deliver stellar growth outside of traditional methods.
In short, change is now mandatory in the Australian channel.
To drive such change however — in an industry influenced by new technologies, fluctuating conditions and digitalisation — the role of the MSP has moved away from merely building performance and market clarity.
Rather, to one that places the customer at the focal point of its business.
But today, such sentiments barely scratch the surface in terms of the challenges and opportunities impacting MSPs in the local channel.
In 2017, partners must target new technologies, diversify areas of operations — spanning small
to medium business, mid-market and enterprise — while finding new verticals routes to explore and new alliances to partner.
Collectively, these help form ‘customer hooks’, billed as a crucial requirement for success.
“You’ve got to look at what is best from a customer perspective and outcomes, first and foremost,” ASI Solutions managing director Nathan Lowe said.
“From a vendor prospective, you want to know where they want to take their product that you can use to assist your customer problems.”
As customer demands change, the success of an MSP will depend on its ability to respond to such demands, while aligning with end-user supporting vendors along the way.
“So pick a vendor that’s going to enable you to react quickly, be that agile flexible business that MSPs are known to be; this is super important,” NTT Communications ICT solutions enterprise services solution design director Joseph Vijay explained.
In offering a harsh reality to the channel, Strut Digital CEO Zack Levy outlined that MSPs that fail to listen to customer demands, “don’t have the right to be” in the market.
To make matters more complex, customers today are flooded with choice when it comes to technology.
“The whole utility concept has been brought into IT infrastructure,” Levy said. “You can now consume it on a per widget, per second increment, which means that you now have much more control, but much more commercial freedom and they now have a choice.
“As a provider, make a decision on what your use cases are; what it is that you want to offer and what your services are.
“Make sure that you’re clear on a use case and then go find the right vendors that help you deliver because customers today have so much freedom to choose.”
But an MSP sell has to be unique to the Australian marketplace, as Brennan IT NSW sales manager Steven MacKenzie explained, meaning partners must consider the approaches required to succeed.
“We’re not America; we’re not Europe, we’re none of these things,” he explained.
“Unless we truly listen to the marketplace, we cannot craft offerings to take back to them something that is going to be on the money in terms of what they want. It’s all business related. It’s all risk compliance.
“And any of our solutions, unless they’re appealing to those types of things, are completely irrelevant.”
To respond to market changes, vendor support must also increase, around consumption models.
“This is not specific to any vendor,” BigAir Group cloud and managed services CTO Scott Atkinson added. “We’re still where we were five to ten years ago with this buy a license and try to convert it into something phase.
“But it’s a big hurdle, it’s a stepping stone in the industry and until we can get past that point, being able to consume from vendors the way we sell to customers it’s going to be a rough road. And if I look ahead it’s still rough.”
To support MSPs in Australia, vendors must help create return on investment for the channel.
“If I want to sell you something that you already have I have to show you ROI otherwise you won’t change,” SolarWinds MSP Asia Pacific (APAC) sales manager Anthony Rosa explained.
“So I think it’s the same thing that you have to do with your end-user. That’s what I would recommend to my MSP. If you want to separate yourself or you want to bring more margins, you have to create ROI.”
Endorsing Rosa’s approach, Correct Solutions managing director Ryan Spillane said MSPs must now show ROI to customers, changing the way the channel interacts with end-users.