Furthermore, IT budgets have shrunk in response to the pandemic, and the impact of this will be lasting. Forrester research expects that Australian tech spending will slide by anything between three per cent to 6.4 per cent in 2020. That contraction in IT budgets is hitting new hardware procurement and bigger IT refreshes, but these numbers actually point to an opportunity for technology providers, including MSPs, as enterprises will look to shift their spending away from big CapEx-based project investment to OpEd-based monthly recurring spending. For many MSPs, taking advantage of these trends is simply going to require that they rapidly shift their own business models to refocus on customer retention.
The IT Glue report suggests that customer churn sits at around 10 per cent currently. Part of that is due to MSPs ceasing work with unpaying customers, as 29 per cent of MSPs cited an increase in accounts receivable as a concern to their businesses. However, broadly speaking MSPs are in a position now where improving “stickiness” and retaining good, existing customers and finding new ways to engage with them is more important than trying to find new customers.
Adding value by broadening services
One way that MSPs are successfully grappling with the market challenges and increasing their customer “stickiness” is through the provisioning of holistic solutions that assist with vendor consolidation. As noted in an MIT Technology Review article: “Business IT ecosystems today are highly sophisticated and ever-increasing in complexity in order to realize the return on investment promised by digital transformation. Events of 2020 have further emphasised the critical need for modern infrastructure and digital experiences. However, a robust IT ecosystem can also be expensive to maintain, resource-intensive to manage, and inefficient to operate.”
Organisations are trying to manage more than ten vendor relationships for a single initiative, and that vendor sprawl is creating additional costs, compromising the IT security profile of the organisation, and resulting in inefficiencies when undertaking new projects or procurement.
MSPs can be the solution by themselves. For example, within many enterprises, the response to lockdowns and the need to work remotely has been incredibly ad-hoc with regards to communication and collaboration. With research suggesting that this new way of working will become permanent post-pandemic, those same enterprises need a more permanent solution than providing their staff with laptops, webcams and phones, and expecting them to be able to continue working productively.
Rather than managing a complex blend of cloud and on-premises communications and collaboration tools, working across a number of different networking, software, and cloud providers, the MSP could instead provide a unfiied communications solution through Access4, offering a hosted voice, contact centre, Microsoft Teams and video solution, while giving the enterprise a single touch point for the management of all of this technology. Additionally, the partner would gain analytics across the entire communications environment, offering them the opportunity for additional value-adding services in providing insights into the customer’s environment.
Once an organisation is on a comprehensive UC platform such as Access4’s, there is rarely an appetite to shift to a new platform, as the disruption caused to the core of the business – its communications facility – is a costly headache to navigate. Through the impact of lockdowns and remote work, organisations are realising the value of modernising their communications environment, but that’s not a shift they’ll want to make again, giving MSPs are rare window of opportunity to improve stickiness with their customers by moving them to a new communications platform.
Managing the shift to greater services
As MSPs move up the value chain and shift their business models to that recurring revenue model and ongoing engagement with their customers, they face a number of challenges which the Access4 partner program has been tailored to address.
The SASBOSS platform for unified communications provided exclusively through Access4 gives transparent analytics and offers a centralised, cloud-based management platform that allows partners to offer true 24/7 management. To assist partners with the accounts receivable challenge, the retail billing and invoice support offered through the Access4 program helps deliver reliable revenue streams to the partner. Additionally, firmware upgrades and automated configuration is delivered through the partner platform, meaning that the MSP’s customers enjoy a level of agility and secure reliability that will give them the competitive edge and confidence in their partners.
Access4 also runs comprehensive learning and development around eight different business areas, from technical to sales, and on to leadership. Customer retention for MSPs relies on ongoing value-adding and thought leadership, and with 1:1 access to a Partner Success Managers, events, ready-to-go sales assets and product information, Access4 delivers everything a partner needs to remain on top.
With a flexible, silo-free approach to technology and a growing roadmap of industry preferred products and integrations Access4 partners are free to bring their own expertise to bear, and build solutions that provide a unique (and thus “sticky”) value proposition to their customers.