Is the Trusted Advisor Still the Pinnacle of MSP-Dom?

The term ‘trusted advisor’ has been perhaps a bit overused, maybe way way overused. Even abused. But that doesn’t diminish the fact that it’s something MSPs are wise to strive for.

You all know the story about the MSP market moving away from break/fix to offer richer services, and becoming a strategic partner.

Being a trusted advisor means you help clients spot the future, find the technologies that offer specific competitive advantage, then pilot, deploy and manage these new technologies.

Trends over the last few years have only made this movement more important. Much of this has to do with the cloud, which is rapidly on the move, and the staying power of on-premises infrastructure. With that, there is a need to manage and integrate both environments, often resulting in hybrid clouds.

One of the seminal works on this topic is a white paper from Nemertes Research ‘Shift to “Enterprise Technology” Relies Upon Vendor Partners for Managed, Cloud Services’ written by Robin Gareiss, Founder and Executive Vice President of Nemertes.

According to Gareiss, the drive to a provider becoming a trusted advisor comes from shifts in technology and how IT views itself.

Gareiss argues that enterprises are shifting from Information Technology (IT) driven to what she calls Enterprise Technology (ET) focused.

“Not only does this shift change the way business leaders view IT, it also alters the organizational structure of IT itself. In the ET world, the technology team becomes more strategic, and as a result, it relies more heavily on trusted partners to handle tactical functions—and in some cases, assist in strategic direction of the company,” she says.

What This Means for MSPs

This all means that businesses are looking for partners, MSPs in particular, to step into that advisor role.

“Managed and cloud services are playing an increasingly important role in enterprise organizations, with the network itself serving as the foundation for effective and strategic ET policy. IT leaders must define a new operating model that allows for innovation and adapts to the changes in the business climate and in the demand for services,” she argues. “ET requires a transformation in how the internal staff thinks, reacts, and creates, along with a stronger reliance on technology partners through managed and cloud services,” Gareiss believes.

IDC also sees enterprises and other shops needing help from strategic advisors. “We predict that business innovation focused on creating a wider variety of solutions targeted at new business opportunities and challenges will drive a profound shift in the role of the IT organization,” says Chris Barnard, Associate Vice President at IDC. “Enterprise IT groups cannot afford any longer to be just watching, studying, exploring, or experimenting with cloud services, mobile devices, social technologies, or the other core elements of what we call the 3rd platform. They must develop deep competence in all of these technologies, often with the help of third parties with expertise in ‘as-a-service’ strategies.”

IT Clients Need More Than Strategy – They Just Need Help

It sounds counter intuitive, but the first step to becoming a trusted advisor is simply helping with mundane tasks. That’s because most shops don’t have the manpower to do all they need to do.

That means these IT groups can’t make the shift from tactical to strategic since they are mired in the tactical.

The answer is to work with partners that can help with the tactical, and at the same time act strategically.

The onus is also on the IT client.  They, perhaps with the help of the MSP, need to figure out what tactical tasks are holding them back. These tasks can be offloaded, so IT can start thinking strategically. The best scenario is to outsource the tactical functions, and look to do the same with current and future strategic technologies.

The Kaseya Take

We at Kaseya covered this topic in our blog. Not just that, we also launched the “Times20” initiative, aimed at helping MSPs build IT services that produce a 20 times return on their investment.

At the same time, the initiative with its stunning economics helps MSPs become strategic, and present themselves as trusted advisors.

The idea is to help MSPs in the 5 following ways, according to the blog:

  1. Charging the full perceived value of their services (rather than trying to win business on price)
  2. Investing in technology that differentiates them from MSP competitors. They don’t grow by adding me-too services late to the game
  3. Developing services that meet the strategic business goals of their clients to support their clients’ growth – and further embed them as a trusted advisor to those clients
  4. Wringing excess costs and inefficiencies out of their business
  5. Creating an agile organization (from business systems, IT training, and internal processes) that allows them to respond quickly to changing market conditions”

Efficiency to Support Strategic Thinking

Just as MSPs hope to make clients more efficient, MSPs themselves need to be efficient. One way to increase MSP’s operational efficiency  is Kaseya BMS, an MSP business management solution. With BMS, MSPs can:

  • Control all aspects of their business – sales, marketing, human resources, client project management and IT service delivery – at a price that is 66% lower than current industry solutions.
  • Decrease operational costs by improving the productivity of every business function and simplifying tasks so that all departments work more efficiently together
  • Quickly rollout new service offerings by streamlining the processes to market, sell, bill, deploy, and support them
  • Deploy a cloud-based modern architecture that can support virtually unlimited scaling, open integration with RMM and accounting tools, quick onboarding of new services and clients, and more”

Go Bionic

Meanwhile, Kaseya interviewed hundreds of MSPs to find the secrets of the most successful and profitable managed service providers. Our eBook “Building a Bionic MSP Practice” shows that the most successful MSPs are not necessarily the largest. They do, however, fully exploit IT Automation, offer value-based pricing, and have a broad service portfolio.

Check out the full eBook here.

Posted by Doug Barney
Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld, and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.
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