Selling Service Solutions.

There’s been a significant shift over the last few years from big manufacturers to complement their portfolio with services. It’s now recognised that selling a box with a break fix contract is not the way to grow a business. By developing and selling services, there are substantial advantages.

One key advantage to a services-led approach is that there are fewer limitations so there’s much more opportunity for manufacturers and resellers to adjust features and capabilities to fit the needs of individual customers. Solutions that are better integrated into existing technologies, workflows and processes are more likely to address the specific requirements of customers, provide the business outcomes desired, and drive a faster return on investment.

A vendor’s or reseller’s services portfolio might include professional services, such as consulting or training offers, or the increasingly popular “X as a Service”, including Software as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, Video as a Service and so on.

However, when manufacturers talk about their services, many people still think primarily about traditional support or break fix services. Indeed, traditional hardware companies and their customers are quite familiar with adding a support contract to a hardware product purchase. For customers, support is like purchasing insurance for a high value item.

The downside of a break fix approach, of course, is that it’s a reactive service, which means that problems are fixed after they occur. For lower priced products, an organization may decide to keep spare stock on hand rather than covering their assets under a support contract. But when we begin to talk about more critical solutions, a component failure could cause serious impacts to a business.

More and more, I’m seeing customers looking for a proactive approach to the service relationship. Managed Services Solutions take a proactive approach to supporting customer’s environments thereby limiting risks and improving the reliability and end user experience. Outsourcing operational responsibility also frees up the internal IT team to focus on other strategic initiatives. Offers that encompass hardware, value-added support services and managed services are seen as end to end solutions.

Before continuing, I’d like to clear up the definition of IT in this article. IT (Information Technology) is traditionally seen as computers, servers and printers within an organisation. However today, this definition has been widely expanded to include anything that incorporates a component that will provide processing capabilities – such as tablets, mobile devices, video endpoints, etc. Company IT resources still traditionally have a primary focus on the computer/server elements, as any of the other examples require more niche skills to manage. It’s not to say that customer IT teams don’t have these skills internally, but they tend to have limited teams that will be responsible for these niche products.

More and more companies have changed their approach to assisting customers with the remote monitoring and management of their collaboration solution brings numerous benefits. Off-loading day-to-day operations to skilled manufacturer technicians that live and breathe their own solutions on a 24×7 basis allow internal customer IT resources to focus on other core areas of their business, reducing overall solution management risk, providing better uptime and ultimately increasing user satisfaction and solution adoption. With these services, manufacturers will get the call at 3am not the internal IT team.

Over the long term when all service elements are taken into account, manufacturer provided remote monitoring and management services save customers money compared with them doing it themselves. A commonly asked question is “why should we use XXX to manage our YYY?” IT environments today are more and more mission-critical. However, as customers rarely have dedicated IT teams that are focused purely on the monitoring and management of their network which means they are more reactive as opposed to proactive.

There’s also a common misconception that it’s more cost effective for customer IT teams to contact a manufacturer’s helpdesk to resolve issues as they arise. Unfortunately these internal IT resources tend to be limited and can be easily overwhelmed. This can have an adverse impact on the day to day requirements of managing infrastructure or endpoints when backups, patches, security, changes, or MACD (Moves, Additions, Changes and Deletions) arise and the internal team has insufficient bandwidth to manage them efficiently. If these elements are not properly managed, the risks of infrastructure outages and unhappy employees increases.

Increasingly, customers look to outsourcing their IT support requirements to third party IT management companies, which provide enormous benefits. However, some of these outsource companies still tend to have skill sets that are focused on certain areas of IT and not all. Whilst they can provide excellent coverage on core products, working jointly with the manufacturer on the niche products will provide complete support on all IT components within a customer environment.

By using manufacturer provided managed services as the owner for the remote monitoring and management of an IT infrastructure, customers are able to control, and reduce, their overall operating expenses. These services are provided as an OPEX offer meaning the cost is spread out over the length of the contract period (typically three, four or five years).

Many manufacturers provide additional value added services, such as design, deploy, support and optimisation offers. Managed services are often delivered by partners, but can be just as efficiently delivered by manufacturers. Many partners have close relationships with customer organisations and use manufacturer provided services to complement or augment their own offers. This approach, with its clear focus on customer success, offers a win-win scenario for everyone involved.

NOTE: This article was originally published on LinkedIn at the following link: Here

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