Discover New Revenue Streams in the ‘FED’ and ‘SLED’ Markets

One of the best ways VARs and MSPs can grow their businesses is by expanding into new vertical markets. If you’re not yet selling to the government, this is one vertical you should seriously consider.

Michael Humke, VP of Public Sector and Healthcare at Ingram Micro led a breakout session recently at the Cloud Summit, highlighting some of the opportunities and challenges of this vertical.

  • “The SLED [state and local government and education] market will represent a $94 billion IT opportunity this year,” he said. “Opportunities include desktop replacement, virtualization, and cloud services and some of the primary technology drivers include: public safety, citizen demand for anytime/anywhere Internet access, growing mobile workforce, and more cloud acceptance (i.e. IT as a Service).”
  • “The FED [federal government] will spend $82 billion on IT-related projects this year.”

One of the biggest barriers of entry to entering these markets is the long list of rules, regulations, and requirements necessary just to be eligible to respond to RFPs. This is one vertical where building your competency by yourself isn’t recommended. The public sector represents $20 billion of Ingram Micro’s total revenue, and the distributor has made several investments in this market that channel partners can take advantage of, including:

Approved Contracts

  • GSA (general services administration) Schedule,
  • SEWP (solutions for enterprise wide procurement),
  • WSCA (Western States Contracting Alliance) –NASPO (North American Security Products Organization).

An Enhanced Diversity Business Partner Network

This targeted network of channel partners has been recently enhanced to provide more resources and benefits to all members of Ingram Micro’s Public Sector Elite community who hold small or diverse business certifications such as 8(a), HUBZone, Woman-Owned, or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned status.

Supply Chain Services

  • Trade Agreement Act Products (TAA)
  • Country of Origin (COO) Data
  • FOCI (Foreign ownership and control)
  • RFID/UID tagging and support
  • Electronic Cataloging of Information
  • SCRM (supply chain risk management)

Plus, a dedicated public sector support team that can help recommend multi-vendor cloud solutions for FED and SLED contracts. More information about these new services can be found at:

http://www.im-publicsector.com.

Posted in Platform | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tried-and-True Marketing Tips for “Referral-Only” Resellers

One of the break-out sessions I attended at last week’s Cloud Summit event that I thought deserved its own blog was a marketing presentation hosted by Ingram VP of Marketing, Jennifer Anaya, and managed services provider Platte River Networks’ VP of Sales and Marketing, David DeCamillis.

As an MSP, DeCamillis understands the fact that small IT service provider companies don’t the budgets or internal resources to run expensive billboard and media advertising campaigns. But, that doesn’t mean they need to relegate themselves to adopting a marketing strategy that uses only “word of mouth.” Both DeCamillis and Anaya challenged attendees to use their marketing budgets better. Here are a few highlights from the session.

“A survey of CMOs found that 78% believe that content marketing is the future of advertising,” said DeCamillis. Furthermore, the average cost to generate leads from content marketing is $143 – or half – the cost of traditional marketing.”

So, is he suggesting you need to hire a profession writer, photographer, and videographer to invest in a content marketing campaign? No. Here are three tips for creating good content and improving your marketing effectiveness on a tight budget:

  1. Befriend an Editor. “The easiest way to get your VAR/MSP practice covered is to introduce yourself to a B2B editor,” said Anaya. “These guys work on tight deadlines, and if they know you’re available and reliable you’ll greatly increase your chances to be quoted – or perhaps featured – in their magazine or online publication.”
  2. Video Your Employees and Customers. To a prospect all VARs and MSPs look alike. Where do they get that impression? Your website. Nearly every IT service provider’s website has the same vendors’ logos and uses the same high-tech jargon, some of which is important but what a prospect really wants to know about is you. Platte River distinguishes itself by using short video clips that illustrate its employees performing important job functions and/or interacting with clients. “The video doesn’t need to be long – one minute is sufficient,” he says. “What’s important is that a prospect gets an opportunity to see what your team looks like and how you interact with customers – without having to decipher that information from a bulleted list of certifications and credentials.”
  3. Use LinkedIn. Platte River ran a marketing campaign that combined IT services with craft beer tasting. To attract prospects to the event, the MSP hired an outsourced marketing firm and it also used its own social media resources like LinkedIn. “We got a better ROI from LinkedIn than from the outsourced marketing firm,” says DeCamillis.
Posted in Platform | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Cloud Summit Day 3 Highlights

One of my favorite parts of attending Cloud Summit is hearing from Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst, Tiffani Bova. This year she gave attendees a look at the future via a video presentation that included a simulated plaza in the year 2020, which highlighted the evolution of the “Internet of Everything.” In this not-too-distant-future cars automatically drive to lower-priced parking spaces and business offices automatically lock themselves up at night, change employees’ network access permissions, and adjust heating/air conditioning temperatures.

So what does this future world have to do with VARs and MSPs in the year 2014? It’s about moving your business up the value curve now by migrating away from the old paradigm of selling point products and thinking about providing the type of customer experience that’s akin to what Starbucks provides to its customers.

Bova also shared a warning against the typical VAR’s approach to sales, which entails following up with a new lead and spewing a lot of information about how great your company is and why your company is great to work with. “In many cases your prospects have already done their homework on you and they know exactly what they want. Taking them back to square one can put them off and kill a potential deal.”

VMware’s VP of Hybrid Platform, Scott Collison took the stage next and shared some impressive cloud growth stats:

  • 45% of enterprise IT will come to the cloud by 2015.” (Source: IDC 2012 Cloud Survey)
  • The total addressable cloud market is projected to grow from $9 billion in 2013 to $31 billion by 2017.

Collison also shared some impressive numbers about VMware’s advantage over its biggest competitors: “We’re 7x faster than AWS [Amazon Web Services] and 2x faster than Microsoft Azure,” he said.

VMware will also be making a backup and disaster recovery announcement in the near future, which will further complete its cloud offerings, which include core cloud computing, infrastructure services, and application services.

Ingram channel partner Craig Teahen, VP of IT at All Covered spoke next about his company’s evolution in the cloud over the past several years, which eventually led to building its own private cloud to provide better availability to its customers.

IBM’s VP of Midmarket, Judy Smolski, gave a keynote presentation this morning, too, educating channel partners about the fact that while many still think of IBM as an enterprise-only company, it actually has several offerings (e.g. BlueMix PaaS cloud offering and SoftLayer acquisition) that are appropriate for partners selling to customers as small as sole proprietorships.

Citrix’ VP of Americas Mike Fouts spoke next about opportunities in the DaaS market, which represents a $1.5 billion opportunity in the next 18-24 months. He challenged partners to think about DaaS as more than just desktop and to see it as a combination of three services: data, applications, and desktops (i.e. ShareFile, Xen App and Xen Mobile, and XenDesktop).

The morning session concluded with a panel discussion led by Nimesh Davé, EVP of Global Business Process and Cloud Computing at Ingram Micro and two financial analysts from Raymond James & Associates.

After pouring through lots of data comparing companies with high valuations to those with lower ones, the analysts summed up their conclusions with:

“Drive higher profit margins [and a higher business valuation] by finding where you can add the most value and outsourcing the rest,” said Joe Estes, Managing Director and Co-Head Technology Services Investment Banking, Raymond James & Associates.

“VARs and MSPs should avoid capital-intensive investments [i.e. commodities] and focus their efforts on white-labeled cloud services,” said Brian Alexander, Managing Director and Director of Technology Research, Raymond James & Associates.

I’ll be sharing highlights of the breakout sessions in upcoming CloudTalk blogs. Stay tuned!

Posted in Platform | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cloud Summit Day 2 Recap

If you’ve been following the Cloud Summit Twittersphere (#IMcloud2014), you’ll see that today’s even was packed with business-focused keynote presentations and excellent break-out sessions. Here are a few highlights I thought were most relevant for VARs and MSPs:

Renee Bergeron, Ingram VP of WW Cloud kicked things off this morning with several exciting announcements, including:

 

Cloud Summit 2014

Cloud Summit 2014

3 New Ingram Micro-Hosted Cloud Solutions

  • Ingram Micro Hosted Exchange
  • Ingram Micro Virtual Private Servers (VPS)
  • Ingram Micro Web Hosting

A growing portfolio of “white glove” services focused on critical business, sales and technical needs such as:

  • technical sales engineering
  • migration and onboarding
  • service desk, and
  • remote infrastructure management.

Expanded Channel Programs. Now there are three options for service providers:

  • Cloud Referral
  • Cloud Resale
  • Cloud Private Label

And, a Next-Gen Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace, powered by Parallels

The opening session was followed by a Cloud Leadership Panel moderated by Gartner’s VP of Research, Tiffani Bova and the panel included Ingram CEO Alain Monié, Box CEO Aaron Levie, RingCentral President David Berman, Axcient CEO Justin Moore, and Parallels CEO Birger Steen.

One thing I learned was that CEOs who wear outlandish socks are the ones most likely to make unfiltered statements that make crowds of IT service providers go “ooooooooooooo” and there were even a few “booooooo”s as well.

Axcient’s Moore made the strongest prediction for what’s in store for partners in the next few years: “We’re going to see a consolidation in the number of channel companies over next 3 years. Those who don’t innovate won’t exist.”

Ingram partner Chris Bradley, VP of Managed/Cloud Solutions at ProTech Systems Group spoke next about his company’s cloud services growth. One of the key takeaways from his presentation: “We’re talking to CEOs, CFOs, and business owners – where the real cloud buying decisions happen.”

Ellen Berlan, who I interviewed last week, had these two highlights to share in her keynote presentation:

What are the top business drivers for cloud adoption? Agility, Faster Time to Market, Scaling Up and Scaling Down, Ease of Deployment, Replacing CapEx with OpEx

Cisco Survey Results: Among companies with  less than 1,000 employees, the app they are most likely to move to the cloud is: video conferencing (42% of respondents)

Gartner predicts: By 2016, more than 50% of video communications will come from cloud/SaaS.

Another show favorite was Terry Jones, Founder of Kayak.com and Founder of Travelocity.com who spoke on the “Business of Innovation,” which fit perfectly with this year’s “Rise Above” theme. Jones’ session was packed with inspiring quotes, stories, and anecdotes, but here were a few of my favorites:

  • Watch out for the Dopelar Effect – the tendency for stupid ideas to seem interesting the faster they come at you.
  • Creativity is about thinking up new ideas. Innovation is about doing new things.
  • Build a culture of experimentation and when things don’t go well, kill the project — not the person with the idea behind the project.
  • Beware of the Bozone Layer – An impenetrable layer of middle management that stops bright ideas from moving forward.
  • Innovation is not like the olympics where you train for 5+ years and have one shot at a medal; it’s more like baseball where if you’re successful 70% of the time, you’re doing pretty good.
  • In real innovation, being comfortable isn’t good.

There were several excellent breakout sessions after lunch, too. One of the more popular ones was the session led by Paul Dippell, CEO of Service Leadership, Inc. a leading global consultancy to Solution Providers and IT vendors. “Resellers have three choices when it comes to selling cloud services: They can build their own (bring your own cloud), they can resell another vendor’s cloud, or they can white-label another vendor’s cloud service,” says Dipell. He then made the point, backed by a lot of metrics and experience, why resellers should avoid BYOC and instead focus their efforts on white-labeled cloud services where they can minimize price shopping and bundle their managed services to optimize their profit margins.

There was one breakout session on marketing I attended (led by MSP Platte River’s David DeCamillis and Ingram Micro’s VP of Marketing Jennifer Anaya) that I thought deserved its own blog, which you’ll see later this week.

Can’t wait to see what’s in store for attendees tomorrow. Should be another really great day!

 

 

Posted in Business Process | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cloud Summit 2014: Day 1 Recap

More than 900 channel partners attended the opening day of Cloud Summit in sunny Hollywood, Florida at the Westin Diplomat Resort. The show kicked off  at 1 p.m. with multiple break-out sessions, including one of my favorites which was “How to Transition Your Break-Fix Business to the Cloud,” led by Gary Beechum, CEO of SPC International.

Following are a couple of highlights/sound bits from the session:

* Break-fix sales are for “Customers” whereas managed services produces “Clients” because it’s a business relationship.

*The right cloud sales pitch MSPs should be using to engage customers/prospects: “We use cloud technology to increase your revenue and reduce your operational costs.”

Beechum also emphasized the importance of taking marketing seriously and investing in good lists (from organizations like Hoovers) and using marketing tools like Fusionsoft and Phoneburner to create and automate your marketing processes.

One point he emphasized was that your transition to the cloud isn’t going to happen with your existing customers as much as with new prospects because you’ve probably spoiled your existing customers and now it will be much more difficult to incentivize them to switch. He ended his presentation by laying out a 3-step transition plan,which included:

1. Lead by Example: Before you can sell cloud, you need to be using it for your own business to really understand how it works.

2. You need sales professionals – not traditional salespeople –to sell cloud services. You will need to hire new people and you should use the DISC profile test to get the right people in the right positions within your company.

3. Categorize your existing client base as A (technology strategic), B (technology dependent), and C (technology adverse) and start converting your ‘A’ customers to clients right away, then focus on your ‘B’ customers.

Beechum speaks again tomorrow at 4:30 p.m.. For those attending the show, I’d highly recommend checking it out.

Another one of my favorite sessions was the CompTIA channel trends presentation led by Katherine Hunt, Director of Member Communities at CompTIA along with Ingram’s Senior Director for Cloud in the Americas, Jason Bystrak. If you can get a copy of CompTIA’s 2014 IT Industry Outlook study, I’d highly recommend it. It not only delves into important trends, but it covers “anti-trends” too.

Here’s an example of a trend/anti-trend combo Hunt talked about: On the one hand mobile devices continue to flood the market; at the same time PC sales remain flat. Seeing both perspectives helps MSPs take a more balanced approach to sales. In this case, it helps service providers understand that mobile devices aren’t replacing desktops — they’re being used in addition to PCs.

Here’s just a small sampling of the stats Hunt presented to a standing-room-only crowd of service providers:

* North America comprises 30% of the $3.6 trillion global IT market

* The key segments within the IT market include:  telecom services (44%), IT hardware (25%), IT services (24%), and software (18%)

Two key takeaways from this session:

1. If you’re going to sell cloud, you need to first use it yourself (sound familiar?)

2. You need to transition from being an IT advisor to a trusted business partner with your clients.

Tomorrow is going to be a power-packed day with several can’t-miss keynote presentations from Ingram’s VP of WW Cloud, Renée Bergeron followed by a Cloud Leadership Panel of the following executives:

Alain Monié, CEO, Ingram Micro
Aaron Levie, CEO, Box
David Berman, President, RingCentral
Justin Moore, CEO, Axcient
Birger Steen, CEO, Parallels

Ingram partners will be sharing their success stories, plus there’s more great educational breakout sessions in store for attendees.

Also, be on the look out for some big announcements from Ingram and several of its vendors that will hit the wire at 8 a.m. ET. And, finally, here’s the hashtag you can follow tomorrow to get the play-by-play highlights of the show: #IMcloud2014.

 

 

Posted in Platform | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Q and A With Cloud Summit Keynote Speaker Ellen Berlan, Cisco Systems

The 2014 Ingram Cloud Summit officially kicks off today! For the past several weeks I’ve been highlighting some of the upcoming special events at the show, including sneak previews of keynote presentations and what to expect at some of the breakaway sessions.

One final preview I’d like to share is tomorrow’s keynote presentation with Ellen Berlan, Cloud Director of Americas at Cisco Systems. I recently spoke with Ellen, and she shared some highlights about what Cisco is planning at this year’s event as well as some insights about her keynote presentation tomorrow at 10:45 a.m. in Great Hall 3 & 4, titled: “Rising to the Cloud & Accelerating Collaboration.”

You can hear all about that and more by clicking here to listen to our 5-minute Q&A. Also, keep up to date with the latest happenings at the show by following #IMCloud14 on Twitter and LinkedIn, plus be sure to check back for daily recaps of the event here at the Ingram CloudTalk blog!

Posted in Platform | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A virus can bring your business to a halt. Protecting it shouldn’t.

A virus or online attack can ruin everything you’ve helped your customers put into their growing business. With Symantec Endpoint Protection Small Business Edition, your customers business doesn’t have to miss a beat. It’s a fast and effective way to give your customers business complete protection, with the world-class security of Symantec.

Symantec Endpoint Protection Small Business Edition is built for growing businesses. For starters, it’s cloud-managed, making everything from deployment to updates to management easier, with no disruptions. You and your customers can onboard users quickly, so even remote users are covered in a few clicks. Updates happen automatically in the background, so users can keep on working. And you and your customers can manage it all from a simple, secure web portal.

Because your customers have a growing business, their security allows them to easily protect new desktops, laptops and servers for their company at any time. All you and your customers need is a web connection. So your customers and their staff get up-to-date, always-on protection even on the road. And they get the peace of mind of knowing their business is protected from the latest threats.

Your customers protection comes preconfigured with best practices from Symantec, saving you and your customers time. And as their business grows, you and your customers can easily create custom policies for different computers and manage different users and groups, allowing you and your customers to determine whether their employees have the right levels of protection to do their work effectively.

With Symantec Endpoint Protection Small Business Edition, you and your customers have easy tools to help you protect their business—while they are still free to run their business.

Posted in Platform | Leave a comment