It might be easier for us to wrap our brains around the shift to managed services if we first separate the parts that make up the company, and then dissect the financial transaction piece of the various technology delivery methods (which we’ll do in another blog).
We have to be adaptable to each client we serve, and not limit ourselves to just one way of doing things. And here’s why: We’re becoming many things to many people.
First, we are integrators (and, quite likely, we will be for many years). One key aspect of our channel is that people are still needed to design, sell, and install the technology. Selling may become a less favorable way to deliver technology to our clients, but somehow it gets installed.
We are also systems companies. Many traditional integrators have transformed to a “managed systems” company, delivering technology using leasing or other supply-chain financing methods. Often, the same equipment is used but the ownership transfers in a different fashion. In some cases, the technology is never truly owned by the end-user at all.
Third, we are “managed services” companies. We can host technical services and offer cloud-based technology solutions that don’t reside at a client’s location. There are plenty of technical solutions that lend themselves to at least a hybrid approach of both premise-based and hosted/cloud solutions.
Most importantly, we must become “real-time services” providers. Regardless of which transactional format you prefer, or what you lead with for technology ownership transfer, we have to adapt to the way our clients want to buy: monitor in real time, diagnose in real time, communicate the problem in real time, and fix it before it’s a major ordeal. That’s our future. Where the equipment is located is of secondary concern.
The one thing I hear continuously when I’m visiting NSCA members is that client expectations are rapidly changing. In many cases, the frustration seems to center around customers who want more but aren’t willing to pay for it. I contend that they might be more willing to pay for something if we deliver it in a way they understand or have become accustomed to. Our traditional selling and their traditional buying may be very different as IT influence increases.
I often say, half-joking, to members: “You know how we often say good contractors are hard to find when we need a plumber or an electrician? I sometimes wonder if, down the road, we’ll look around and ask ourselves, ‘Where did all the good contractors go?’ ” –Chuck Wilson, NSCA Executive Director