As an IT services provider, you have the right to expect the same level of services from your solutions vendor that you provide your customers.
“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.”
– Gordon Gekko, “Wall Street”
These days, IT service providers are embracing “as-a-service”—IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and, now, desktops-as-a-service (DaaS), disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS), etc. I’m not knocking the trend. I actually think it’s a great model for many businesses. Customers don’t have major upfront costs, maintenance hassles or a need for onsite IT experts. They pay as they go for what they need.
What’s not to like?
A few things, actually. Huge providers offer services in standard packages, without much room to negotiate or tailor service bundles. Customer service is handled by large, impersonal call centers, and even with polite, competent and responsive technicians, there is still a lot of wasted time identifying problem causes when done from 10 states or an ocean away. What's more, different parts of the country, business sizes or industry sectors face vastly different issues. Trying to make a one-size-fits-all solution work can be a challenge.
Many local IT service providers are stepping into the market, not just as cloud resellers or facilitators, but as actual providers. They are putting together their own infrastructure to provide private onsite or hosted solutions and restricted-access public cloud services. In this scenario, customers have the best of all worlds—they get monthly service plans tailored to their needs, provided by a local trusted partner who understands their needs and can come to their office. SMBs love it.
But a lot of IT services providers don’t love it, or can’t get in on the game at all. Unlike huge service vendors, they don’t have the luxury of massive data centers. They don’t have the customer volume, upfront capital, manpower or floor space to build out such a facility. Cobbled-together solutions often lack the functionality, performance or reliability that customers demand.
What’s an IT provider to do? The answer is to approach their vendor partnerships with the same mindset their customers have. They want to know, “What’s in it for me (WIIFM)?” As a service provider, you demonstrate the value that you add to your customers, so are you asking your solution partners to do the same? Are you asking, “WIIFM?” Do it—Be greedy (at least in this context!). After all, solution providers want your business as much as you want your customers’ business.
Many IT services providers are starting to offer IaaS contracts for their partners. For example, Zenith Infotech offers its solutions with limited upfront costs, monthly rates (discounted if you commit to a long-term contract), scalable and flexible options, 24 x 7 support and even marketing assistance. Many solution providers have coordinated systems—even hyper-converged infrastructures—that are literally out-of-the-box deployments to reduce the time, effort and specialized expertise needed to roll out cloud-based services.
The bottom line is this: If your solution partners can’t answer, “WIIFM” to your satisfaction, they shouldn’t be your partner. While I don’t endorse greed as a concept generally, I do believe IT services providers must be their own best advocates. Demand the same level of flexible, tailored service that you provide for your customers to spark your evolutionary spirit. Gekko might not have been nice, but he had a point!
Richard Reiffer is Vice President of Cloud Services at Zenith Infotech and CEO of Global Cloud Consulting. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of Talkin' Cloud's annual platinum sponsorship.