Managed services providers (MSPs) able to speak “the language of business relevance” with customers and prospects are the companies that will be best positioned to capture business in the SMB market.
That message was one of the key takeaways from a discussion on “Maximizing Opportunities in the SMB Market,” part of the CompTIA Managed Services Community meeting Wednesday, March 22, 2017, held during the association’s 2017 Annual Member Meeting.
The discussion was led by John Tippett, vice president and general manager, Aisle8; Vince Tinnirello, CEO, Anchor Network Solutions and chair of the Managed Services Community; and Tim Herbert, CompTIA’s senior vice president for research and market intelligence.
Herbert presented data from the CompTIA study The Business Relevance of IT in the SMB Market. He noted that the large majority of SMBs recognize the important role technology plays in helping them meet business objectives, but there are factors inhibiting spending. That’s where the business relevance discussion comes in.
“Small businesses are moving toward a more data-driven decision-making mindset,” Herbert said. MSPs that can provide relevant, solid data to customers are likely to have a leg up on their competitors.
“If we sell to the business need they should get it very quickly,” Tinnirello said.
Herbert acknowledged that calculating return on investment (ROI) can be challenging.
In the CompTIA study, a majority of SMBs said they make efforts to calculate the ROI on their technology purchases. But just one in five SMBs reported using dedicated ROI calculators to evaluate the impact of their technology spend. Others rely on more general or informal tools, or on “ballpark” estimates.
“Still, it signals the need for technology providers to fine-tune their ROI discussions with customers,” Herbert said. “There are benefits even if it is difficult to capture the number.”
For Tippett, the ROI discussion comes down to a single factor: downtime.
“Any downtime is a loss of productivity,” he said.
The 600 SMBs surveyed for the CompTIA study were asked to identify their business priorities. Their responses:
- Renewing and maintaining key customer accounts.
- Implementing new systems and work processes to enhance efficiencies.
- Identifying new customers and markets.
- Successfully launching new products and services.
- Hiring skilled workers to drive strategic growth.
- Innovation and cultivating new ideas and putting them into practice.
At the end of the day, many SMBs are looking for a technology partner that they can rely on, according to MJ Shoer, chief technology officer of Internet & Telephone, LLC. Said Shoer, “Nine times out of 10 it’s about stabilizing IT so they go out and run their business.”