By Larry Walsh
Technology is a part of everything we do, but achieving success has never been about the technology. It’s always been about the business. Now, say that again—out loud: “Success IS always about the business.”
The point of technology is to serve the products and services that benefit the end user. But many companies fall short on capitalizing on technology because they don’t focus enough on their business objectives. They simply don’t have the principles and practices in place that drive what’s needed to ensure repeatable performance.
When The 2112 Group and Ingram Micro teamed up to run the Incubator Growth and Maturity Program, we suspected it would reveal a great deal about the strengths, opportunities, needs and challenges of SMB-oriented resellers. And we were right. The Ingram Micro partner community now has plenty of insights to learn from—and apply.
The 2112 Group largely focuses on core business principles and instruments, planning and strategies for growth, and the best ways to balance service and sales agendas. All of the posted articles are worth a second look—or a first read, if you haven’t seen them already.
For now, here’s a quick recap of some key topics:
History has shown that having a plan isn’t enough. To implement an effective growth strategy, a company needs the resources to execute it. And the most important resources are human—that is, great teams are made up of great players. Recruiting, acquiring and retaining talented individuals are the keys to executing an effective business plan.
While solution providers have invested in delivering managed services, they—with a few notable exceptions—haven’t invested in the development of managed services businesses. Making managed services a sustained growth driver requires building a salesforce that adds new accounts and expands consumption with existing customers.
Any business is risky, as there’s no guarantee of success. Staying relevant to the market requires taking some risks, and that usually requires investments. Solution providers need to extend themselves through calculated risk, making strategic investments in acquiring new skills, expanding sales capacity and reach, and marketing their brand and capabilities to target customers.
Using managed services as a sales catalyst isn’t a new idea. A core function performed by MSPs is replacing failed or obsolete equipment that causes maintenance issues, thus impeding operational performance and effectiveness. But MSPs have insights into their customer operations and can use their access to gain a greater understanding of customer needs and expectations.
Governance reflects discipline. SMB-focused companies with strong managerial leadership will exercise governance to ensure all staff members are doing their jobs as defined and pushing the business forward in the same direction. Governance is often the difference between companies that grow and produce higher profits and those that underperform or stagnate.
SMB customers need more than just a point of sale. They can get product anywhere, and often do. But their ill-advised purchases are fodder for solution provider services and support opportunities. What they need is expert support—or what many call “a virtual CIO”—who guides IT purchases with real strategy that results in operational improvements.
While solution providers are getting better at organizing and governing their organizations, many still lack the fundamentals or simply don’t exercise the discipline required to fully implement the business instruments that drive repeatable performance and result in growth. By identifying areas that need better management maturity, greater visibility or more transparency for operational effectiveness, a solution provider can begin to create and document repeatable processes and practices, along with a maturity road map and growth strategy that move it forward.
The difference between successful and unsuccessful companies is often the recognition and prioritization of business objectives and execution.