With virtual CIO services becoming an increasingly popular option to managed service providers (MSP), many are taking an approach to re-brand themselves through this tool.
With the rapid pace that technology continues to advance, as well as our dependence on it, knowing how to re-brand yourself, understanding why and how the vCIO is the next natural evolution, as well as how to go about handling the problems associated with vCIO, are crucial components to the success of your business.
First and foremost, however, is establishing an understanding of what most MSPs are struggling with when it comes to this service.
Top issues challenging MSPs:
- No unique differentiation.
- New client acquisition challenging.
- Substitution of basic MSPs services.
- Vendors want to go direct.
- IT infrastructure is not compelling.
The best way to re-brand yourself is by acknowledging the opportunities in the IT management side of things.
Amongst top business challenges for CEOs is in fact not infrastructure related as most would assume, but instead related to security, solving business challenges, and achieving proper business decisions based on real time information from the field.
Solving this doesn’t just mean having a roadmap to your technology, either. It’s about finding opportunities in IT management that allow your business to surround the client, solve management issues, and plan an IT strategy.
“. . . eventually, you have to separate your infrastructure based component, and your traditional really good MSP service, and you have to cross and create another service – which is the fully fledged virtual CIO.” says Denes Purnhauser at Reframe Your Clients.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be a large or sophisticated process – we are just aiming to outsource our commodities. It is important to remember that there are different solutions for different businesses; some of you may still require MSP services, for instance, or coaching and management of your internal IT department to get the full effect from vCIO.
Understand all of the different aspects this tool will affect.
Try to understand what problems are generally associated with vCIO services. If it’s too infrastructure focused, if it’s misaligned with the people’s understanding or needs, if the pricing model is ill fitting, or if there is a lack of scalability – chances are there will be significant issues that lead to a non-profitable business. It is imperative to have clear pricing and packaging.
Another thing to understand and consider is how you can start doing vCIO services with your techs. Think about improving quarterly reviews, have more business conversations that cover pains, and consider what the models for both small, 20 people business, as well as large, 300 people companies, look like. Along with this, vCIO staffing, onboarding and development should be explored.
Most importantly – understand who your target market is! What do your clients look to you for? Will vCIO services improve what you have to offer them?
Planning your next steps:
- First things first – a reality check. Before you attempt to move up, figure out where your business stands right now.
- Establish a clear and attainable vision.
- Execute framework aligned with the vision.
- Ensure ongoing service and support.
Are there alternative options?
Implementing vCIO services comes as a huge change to your business model, and can present many challenges. Fortunately, if vCIO sounds more like an issue than a solution for your business, there are other steps you can take to achieve similar benefits.
A more efficient MSP, a cloud broker to improve sales resources, a data centre builder to improve tech resources, as well as the tried and true tactic of trial and error can all create a positive impact and help you reach the benefits seen by vCIO services.
Stuart Crawford is an IT services and managed services marketing expert. He founded Ulistic in 2010 and has been a regular contributor to CDN ever since.
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