As an IT solutions provider, the reputation of your service relies on delivering a seamless user experience. Cloud computing streamlines the customer experience from the road to the desk, but it can be difficult for the solutions provider to maintain this standard. This doesn’t have to be the case, there are various steps you can take to future-proof your business. Read on to find out the five ways you can diversify your cloud offering to ensure stability, customer loyalty, and maintain a competitive edge.
Standardised vs. Diversified Cloud Providers
There are benefits to standardising cloud and technology providers within your business. With advanced technology expertise, you can enhance customer experience of the features available. But what happens if there’s an outage? No company is too big to fail; this approach is too risky.
Despite the Service Level Agreement (SLA) found on the vendor’s website, you have to ensure that critical workloads are working 24/7 all year round. AWS has experienced outages in the past, and it’s likely that other cloud providers could too.
On the other side of the spectrum is a portfolio of vendors, which presents a different challenge. Vendor management requires a person to maintain different operational processes, compatibility, too many choices for a client to decide, etc. The key is to strike a balance of standardised or specialised but diversified to protect against the unlikely event of an outage.
To help you visualise, this can be leveraging AWS as a primary infrastructure offering, and having your failover set up in Azure. Whilst you’re paying for two cloud service simultaneously, this protects your customers critical applications in the event of an outage.
Meet your clients’ needs: both basic and complex
How do you secure a loyal customer base? Simply make sure you meet all of their IT needs. Every business needs a phone, cyber security, email and collaboration tools. Email and Microsoft Office are basic, but telephony and cyber security may be more complicated. Understand the best way to offer these services without altering your core focus.
If a competitor provides phones for your client, what’s to stop them from switching the rest of their IT needs one day? Broadening your offering to include telephony doesn’t have to be complex, and the residuals earned from the agent model can be lucrative.
Cyber security may seem like a daunting task with unwanted liability, but it doesn’t have to be. There are several services available that IT solution providers can white-label and do the work for you. You add revenue to the client with a little bit more profit. Services like Recon are proactive monitoring, and with little setup, can save you time and ensure business continuity in the future.
Offer Inovative Solutions
You can stay competitive with your diversified cloud offerings by specialising in a niche market, like healthcare. Healthcare is a broad field, and you can get as granular as dental, doctor offices, hospitals, or pharmacies. Build packaged offerings that combine critical business needs that can be integrated specifically with the service.
Offer Complementary Services and Offers
Think outside of the box and connect with non-competitive companies that help both your customer and you. A few ways to approach this can be referral models, cross-promotion, or specialist groups.
- Referral Model – What about collaborating with other companies who would be logical referrals to your clients, and vice versa? This could be as simple as recommending a company with cyber security insurance policies to clients (and the insurance company gives you a “finder’s fee”) alongside your security package.
- Cross-Promotion – Work with and promote other businesses. You can barter with a community or professional group. In exchange for promoting clients to join, you receive free logo placement on their website or access to regular meetings. Another idea could be to host a partner’s event in your office, put business cards in their retail space, host joint-charity events, or even help promote each other on social media. You can leverage each of these into a great public relations opportunity.
- Specialist Groups – Consider hosting education events for your customers as it relates to technology. Keeping on top of tech trends may not be their first priority, but it would benefit your business to ensure clients know the basics.
For example, host a networking event. If the focus is cyber security, bring in an expert from the local police department. Is there an association within the field that can lend their knowledge?
Finally, look to other businesses to help you build a niche offering. This could include web developers, lending institutions for creative finance options, or even your IT distributor. Distributors offer many services for partners to leverage like marketing, implementation, finance/credit, white-labeled services, and more.
Expand into New Vertical(s)
Perhaps you already specialise in a market and are looking to add new clients and revenue to the business? Consider expanding into a new vertical or specialty with your solution. Keeping with the dentist example, can you tweak your solution to appeal to physician offices?
To deliver bigger results, consider a different vertical altogether. If you specialise in healthcare, look for an industry and customer segment that would have similar budgets. If you’re currently selling enterprise level IT, trying to apply the same solution to a small business would miss their needs completely, and the price point would be misaligned too.
This long-term strategic move can take some market research and business planning to implement. Before taking the leap, consider leveraging tools like the Business Model Canvas to review positioning and value statements, pricing and customer needs.
Diversifying your cloud offerings is a key part of maintaining your business strategy in the long term. Connect with your Tech Data Cloud specialist today and we’ll be more than happy to help you expand your cloud practice.