Business Model Match

IT Business
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While we haven’t yet officially announced the biggest thing we have on deck this year (because we want to talk to our partners about it first and there are many of you and most of you don’t pick up the @#%@ phone) the details of things that are coming along with it are starting to pop up as is the usual partner chatter and the never-ending bitching from my competitors who just can’t get enough of my missteps to make it seem like “we’re not listening to our partners”.

But you know what.. record numbers came in again. Record month, record quarter, record year. And I didn’t have to suck Arnie’s dick for it.

So with all due respect, kiss my ass.

Now that we have the pleasantries out of the way..

Let’s discuss something that has been on my mind all year and that is the subject of vendor responsibility and the right fit for the MSP.

Which in itself is a mindfucking misnomer because the job-hopping channel chiefs seem to be in consensus that all MSPs are pretty much the same and (if you kind of squint on their PSA/RMM/BDR choices). And as 100% of my former employees who knew how to run my business better than I do while being completely incompetent at the task they were given, I am going to offer some fucktastic advice for you to ignore as you try to decode the fountain of channel chief bullshit being spewed at a smaller and less occupied side room

Vendor Perspective

To a vendor, you the MSP are the channel. That faceless, mindless, numbfuck ninja that can get past the executive gatekeeper / IT guy in charge through your cunning use of body odor and Gilden cotton shirt with a BBQ stain on it.

emptypanelAs the channel chief looks down on you from their elevated stool the airport Hilton facilities guy stole from the bar, s/he (let’s not be sexist here, tits are tits) thinks the following:

What the fuck have I done wrong in the life to be stuck here??? I guess this is better than being back at home with the wife that hates me or the office that I can’t stand but how much longer can I keep up this shit show of having these idiots fail at selling my shitty half baked solution till the last of these morons gets a real job? What the fuck do I tell them?

I am here to help you make more money.

Sell this shit right here, your clients can’t get enough of it, your business needs more revenues.

And friends, they aren’t that wrong: The typical MSP is just an animal that needs to be optimized for a maximum sell-through. The only problem is that the animal farm MSP they think they are talking through/about died last decade. You can’t get people to sell more shit because the end user got a lot smarter and more informed while the MSPs diversified far from their RMM-watching days.

The industry got better. To be more specific: The part of the old VAR/MSP industry that thrived looks nothing like that stereotypical case-study guy that’s at every IT roadshow talking to you.. because he wants a job!

MSP / VAR / ITSP Perspective

You’ve heard the same sales pitches about the same crap a million times before. The only thing that has changed is the logo.

The reality of the MSP marketplace is that it matured in a way that many didn’t want it to – instead of the “come to your friendly local MSP pawn shop, we’ll sell you yesterdays technology at last decades price” – the smart people ignored “Just do anything for money and sell all of our shit because we came up with this cool 3D poster” and instead specialized in different things. Some went into health care, some into legal, some into VoIP and communications, some into mobile, some into…

This is infuriating to a software/hardware/solutions business that no longer has your complete and undivided attention and a cookie cutter mass sellthrough solution is no longer appealing.

The Conflict

The coming age of conflict, as has come up in many of my conversations with service providers over the past few months, is in the realization by the vendors that they will have to do a lot more work to remain a relevant piece of the puzzle because you have diversified your business away from what was traditionally seen as IT.

The traditional IT got commoditized by the MSPs (remember how we pulled the plug on the in house IT employees last decade) and the workstations/servers are rapidly becoming commoditized by the cloud and mobile devices. With less gadgets to monitor and patch you have to move up the food chain.

This natural evolution of our business has a casualty: the incentive to do the hard, ugly, difficult and messy “must not impact business operations during business hours” job is now not the primary revenue driver for most small business IT providers.

Simply put: The vendor community has a much higher incentive to do the hard work than your typical service provider who frankly isn’t interested in making cents on the dollar and is chasing 3 digits rates per hour.

Not everyone has received this memo yet. Hence the bitterness and misplaced anger.

The future of MSPs, just to arrogantly pile you under the same convenient panel moniker, is in working with vendors who effectively supplement the business model to eliminate headaches or boost profit margins. With the traditional IT becoming a commodity, this business is no longer about maximizing revenues “to keep your lights on through the effective use of an RMM platform that” – it’s about finding people who will do as little or as much work as needed to get the solution implemented. Smart and profitable MSPs are diversifying away from being the provider of the commodity service and are positioning themselves as the expert part of the overall solution. You’re just no longer dumb enough to be the conduit for it all that assumes the most liability while getting the least margin in return.

The vendor community now has to bend itself to fit into the MSP / IT Solution Provider business model and do so in different ways (branded, white label, full service, licensing only, software with support contracts; because different MSPs will rely on the same vendor for the same product at a different level of involvement depending on the client, business maturity, other business projects and opportunities, hiring cycle, etc)

emptyGood for you. The line between solution providers and vendors is blurring. Which yes, brings some competition & friction, but elevates service levels and brings the common interest closer to the top.

As for the swag dispenser road shows.. Well, I don’t want to say anything rude.