Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Vista: SMB Business Justification

So I’ll start with the “How do I justify Vista to the SMB market?” question. Why? Well, as I said before, it’s probably the more difficult of the two. And that said, for smaller customers, the answer is almost too simple.

They won’t have a choice.

So now you’re saying, Whoa… wait a second … what do you mean they won’t have a choice? Well, if you’ve worked with SMB customers you already know the answer. When Dell (or fill in the name of your low-cost workstation provider) stops selling systems with Windows XP, the SMB customers are just going to start replacing their systems with whatever is available at the time their workstations fail.

And that’s going to be Vista.

Okay so they’re not going to have a choice. I get it. But this isn’t a business justification for SMB customers to move to Vista.

Oh but it is. And if you’re a certified partner, it means it’s time to sit down with your whole team and come up with a new approach to selling to these smaller SMB customers. You see, these guys (small SMB) have always been the tough nuts to crack. Often times they have the highest expectations, the smallest budget, and are the slowest to pay. They’re also why certified partners tend to move up the chain to medium-sized businesses as soon as practical. But that said, smaller SMB tend to like fixed costs.

And that’s your opportunity. A fixed-cost managed services model.

Go back and take a look at some of what I’ve written about the managed services model. Because if you haven’t done much with managed services Vista can be your hook into this model. Now you’re going to have to invest some time into testing LOB-apps, and building an effective cost model, but if you can do this, you’re really going to be able to show value. Go out and find some cost models for older platforms… Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, better yet, create them based on your existing customer base. Now take your Vista testing effort, and create fixed-cost IT models where customers who standardize on a given platform (XP, or Vista), can benefit from a lower-cost model based on standardization.

I know what you’re thinking… this is a rehash of what corporate IT has been selling for years. It’s the managed-services/standardization mantra. And it’s typically been the hardest to articulate to SMB customers. Only now, with the falling costs of hardware, better remote support tools, and some good cost models, you can start to articulate this vision to your most difficult customers.

Get them on a supportable platform, and you can show real value. And while you're at it, start putting those Windows Vista betas though the paces. Figure out what's going to sell Vista like RDP sold XP to your existing customers. Then you'll be selling not just cost models, and chrome, but the whole package.

1 comment:

Systems Engineer said...

This post has a lot of truth to it. The magority of my smaller customers only mover to the latest OS when the PC's die. Some smaller customers however do have an upgrade cycle in place. Typically these type replace 1/3 of the PC's every year with what ever is the latest HW/SW available on the desktop. This translates into Vista being nearly fully deployed by 2009/2010 on the desktop, if it does get released in 2H 2006.

On the other hand, Windows 2000/XP will be around for a lot longer in some environments. I still have customers wo are running Windows 95 because they don't want to have to upgrade or test some of those flaky applications that run on them.

The managed services model works to assist this adoption on new a new OS only to a certain extent. The managed services model my company offers is through using Terminal Services. This is great for a central management of users, and helps keeps the support person from having to deal too much with the desktop OS. The downside of this is a lot of customers justify the fixed expense because they can keep the existing OS on the desktop side and use RDP or Citrix ICA to connect to a published desktop on the Windows Server. Then the Terminal Server delievers the latest desktop and applications to the user.