I’m right with you Susan. And thanks for linking to my post here on Addicted to IT! I think Susan is right on with the managed services concept. It’s about more than just being “proactive”, as I described in my recent healthmon post.
One of the other things we’re doing at my company is taking some of the learnings from integration work with our “enterprise” customers, and we’re starting to apply those learning’s to our SMB customers in the form of managed services. Why the lag time?
Economies of scale.
What you do in the enterprise might make sense, and have an acceptable cost/benefit attached to it for that environment. But to be successful in the SMB market you really need to have your customer base reach that “critical mass” so that cash-flow catches up with, and exceeds your existing model. Then managed services start to get really exciting.
Oh, you wanted examples?
Well, Susan already mentioned VoIP, and CRM (two things which I think partnering on makes a lot of sense). But just think about all of the things that have to happen in the enterprise to be successful… it’s more than just the technical side… there’s all of that “management stuff” to consider. And as much as maybe some technical people don’t like to think about it, management adds value too. And your customers should be paying you for that value.
Does your customer call you on the phone when there’s a problem?
Do you call them?
Or do your customers have an online reporting tool that let’s them generate service requests online, check their account-balance, and review completed activities ? Oh, and does that tool also assign service-requests based on priority to your operations team? Don't have an Ops-team? Well, does it page your cell phone?
That’s part of the managed-services model.
So what am I doing with managed services?
The online reporting tool outlined above for one thing. But it doesn't stop there. From business intelligence, to staff-augmentation and sharing, to remote-outsourcing, single-point cost models, and application development... all kinds of neat stuff. But we're in transition. We didn't wake up one day and say "hey we now offer managed services", it's a transition. You have to work with your customers. And most of all, you have to offer real business-value.
Expect some follow-up posts on some more examples of the managed-services model. I’ll also be adding to my healthmon series.