Carrying the Torch for Business Transformation: Credit Where Credit is Due
“Everything Old Is New Again”
Yesterday I had a long conversation with a really awesome Public Relations expert who works in our channel. I’ll leave her name out of this article, out of respect for her brand, but it quickly became apparent that she and I share a similar view of the vendor-solution provider dynamic.
We both attend and cover a variety of channel events, and we both have a deep interest in the “undercurrents” at each one. Here’s how it works: there is an official program of content at every channel event – some ideas that the keynote speakers and breakout presenters will try to hammer into the attendees’ minds before they go home. Lately it’s almost guaranteed to include the word “cloud” in some form.
Just beneath the official message, though, is some other big hot topic on everyone’s minds and lips; the real conversation. It’s almost always a much bigger deal than the prescribed content.
As this PR expert and I mused about how tough it can be to find this undercurrent if you’re not “plugged in” to the event in the right way, we hit upon a particular “undercurrent” from this season’s events.
And it’s a good one.
As you already know, everything is all about The Cloud. Maybe that’s an understatement. You’re already tired of all the hype, and you’re already sifting through the propaganda to find the kernels of truth.
Well here’s a kernel: figuring out how to be successful providing cloud solutions to SMB end users is just another form of “Business Transformation,” a term that’s actually been around since at least the earliest days of Managed Services.
Our revenue model will have to change a bit, thanks to new technologies and tools and expectations from our clients, if we want to remain profitable and competitive as IT solution providers for small business end users.
We had this conversation 5, 7, 10 years ago – only instead of “cloud” we were saying “managed services” instead. We were tired of the “feast or famine” revenue of the break/fix support and project model, and the “business transformation” was to the annuity-based revenue model. Managed Services – remember?
Today we’re talking about another shift in our revenue model. This time it’s monetizing consulting services as management and maintenance services are consolidated into cloud data centers. And today, thanks to the hype machine that is “the cloud,” the “big boys” on the block (Microsoft, HP, Cisco, etc.) are finally catching on to the “business transformation” message.
Business Transformation is superseding “the cloud” as the official program or message of choice. The content at this year’s Xchange Americas, for example, really focused on the idea.
But here’s the point, the undercurrent: it’s just another example of “everything old is new again” or “old wine in new bottles.”
There are some voices in the channel, particularly RMM and PSA vendors, who have been carrying the torch for Business Transformation for years. There is a segment of the solution provider community that has been hearing this message for years. Many of them are quite successful today with their businesses, and have a “leg up” when it comes to further transforming in the cloud era.
So where were the “big boys” back then, when folks were figuring out how to make money as Managed Services Providers? Only now, the “big boys” are catching up and starting to take that message to the big stage. Unfortunately, those “big boys” stand to claim ownership of the message that isn’t really theirs at all.
Here’s hoping that they don’t. Let’s give the credit where it’s due. If this PR Expert and I have our way, we won’t let the “big boys” fool anybody into believing that it’s their message. Because it’s not.