When it’s over (seriously, it’s time to let go)


Folks have been trying to sucker me into this debate that started yesterday with CRN about “the cloud” and how to find a profitable way to it (I believe the title was “Running behind the train you’ve missed and why your sales # isn’t ringing anymore.”)  Everyone from CRN to Joe @ VAR Guy and the endless stream of shameless opportunistic weasels elsewhere are now entering the debate on a conversation that for the most part ENDED nearly three years ago at WPC 2006 with Kevin Turner.

I feel there is some value in encouraging the channel to change when it becomes threatened by technological evolution. My body of work, however ugly, is a reflection of that.

I, however, see no value in shamelessly cheerleading it to the grave. But hey, we all need hope in despair, so by all means you’re free to continue to be delusional if it makes you feel better.

So what’s changed to start this debate over the cloud again? Nothing, really. VARs  started losing money and clients to the cloud, like they were told they would, and now they are ready to pay attention and form a strategy for the cloud. Too late.

A friend of mine writes a blog in which she spends 10% of her time bashing the cloud solutions (many of which she actually uses/plays with) and the other 90% of her time demonstrating why DIY “on-premise” IT Management is about as much fun as doing your own root canal. And all while all her key vendors including Microsoft and Intuit are sending her a clear message – IT’S OVER – she persists to question it. Good news for her is that she has a real job – but the VAR? Not for long I’m afraid.

One of the more vocal folks about the change has been my buddy Karl (smbbooks.com) who last night wrote: “I want to sell that client a new PC every three years until one of us dies.” I (heart) Karl. But what Karl gets, and many others don’t, is that business survival requires change, which was the topic of that post to begin with. What made money yesterday isn’t making money today. The customer has changed the preference.

Does this mean the death of the VAR world? Of course not. In my humble opinion, it’s been dead for at least 2 years and the economic collapse just accelerated the inevitable.

The only bright news for the VAR industry is that there is plenty of work out there painting and putting up drywall in all the forclosure properties.

What about the IT Solution Providers aka “VAR with a business plan not stuck in 2002”? They are doing quite well as far as I can tell. As I’ve written here over, and over, and over, and yes even again today – business is about fulfilling the market demand. So people don’t want to pay for Vista. Or antispyware. Or email. So what if they don’t want a new computer – there is so much money to be made optimizing processes, improving security, mobility, remote access, business continuity, business intelligence. You can focus on that – or sit in a webcast with other defunct businesses trying to get on top of the trend they already missed.

Focus on what the clients want. It doesn’t matter what you want, you’re in the business for the sole purpose of making money. Either get comfortable with that or grab a paintbrush.

7 Responses to When it’s over (seriously, it’s time to let go)

  1. Mark says:

    Nice. Truth hurts but coming from you it hurts in a unusually pleasureable way…

  2. karlp says:

    Have you forgotten how to hyper-link?

    By “Karl” you mean http://blog.smallbizthoughts.com, right?

    Anyway, I may write up a taxonomy for the consulting ecosphere. There will always be VARs. There will always be MSPs. But there are new animals emerging that have no regard for onsite hardware and software.

    We’re moving (back) to the cloud after getting out of it. Now the tools are mature and the clientele are mature.

    I’m NOT going to be selling wagon wheels in the age of the automobile. And I’m NOT going to be selling $5,000 servers into 10-user offices for much longer.

    There will always be a market for on-premise computers. But that’s now officially a commodity market. It’s also old technology.

    We still own a fax machine. But we’ve bought our last one ever.

    Things change and the business plan of the future is not the business plan of the past.
    — karlp

  3. Pingback: SBSC & MSP Buzz » Blog Archive » Sane People, Insane Statements

  4. vlad says:

    I did say SMBbooks.com. I can never remember the smallbizthoughts.blogger.com thing and I’ve linked incorrectly before and fed some blog spammer 😉

    But yeah, I totally agree with you and we’ve covered all this on the SPAM Show and your two podcasts now that we’ve had on the cloud.

    I understand there will be VARs out there (I don’t count MSPs as VARs for what it’s worth, if you can mature your business to the point of a reoccuring service it’s just a matter of renewing contracts)… just as there will be bicycle repair shops and Amish.

    The point is that as small businesses we have limited amounts of money to spend on marketing and we need to bill out a lot of time in order to earn a decent living outside of contracts/subscriptions we have. When it becomes difficult/expensive to obtain the next client, the business simply ceases to exist as a seriously profitable venture.

    Can you push it for another decade and make $25,000 a year if you work only 10 hours a week. Sure, but at that point you really are a compensated hobbyist.

    Gotta keep on evolving to stay in business. At least the IT business. Painting and drywall, from what I understand, still a very safe place 🙂


  5. HandyAndy says:

    Painting may be safe, but drywall is dangerous, I have 2 ruptured disks in my neck to prove it :>)

    btw oh master of the cloud, my friend Jimmy wrote you a song, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3i6OrOZwtmA, on behalf of riffraff everywhere I dedicate it to you :>)

  6. Vlad Mazek says:

    I got only one thing to say to riffraff:

    “Hey, you missed a spot.”



  7. HandyAndy says:

    that’s what you get when you don’t hire a pro :>)

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