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Collaboration means new business for MSP’s & Solution Providers – 2017

The art is now a science to be built into your company’s DNA and your service and solution offerings

As we enter 2017, we have mu ltiple generations in the workplace, new and alternative communication tools available to us, and we see a stream of mergers and acquisitions already underway in the New Year.  All of these and more have made it a challenge to communicate effectively and consistently. And yet many experts believe improved collaboration is the key for making the most of our investments, teasing out the best of our combined thinking, competing at our highest levels; and ultimately serving our customers in the best way possible.

Which brings me to you, the professional channel practitioner, today, you’re being asked to integrate multiple vendor solutions across different organizations, time zones and technical standards. Though it’s not easy, it is worth it when done right. One recent study, for example, found that the right collaboration tools can reduce sales and project cycles by up to 40%. What is more, they can also minimize lost business opportunities by keeping employees connected across multiple devices and platforms.  The channel’s need to collaborate successfully with multiple vendor solutions its taking to the market and with the advent of cloud and IOT – collaboration with customers for long term success is a must!

Getting collaboration “right” involves more than technology. It also requires process excellence. There’s news along that front as well. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has recently formalized ISO – 44001, a standard for collaborative business relationship management.  The Association of Strategic Alliances Professionals led the US involvement in this standard along with key high tech company influencers. So why does this matter to the channel?   Establishing and maintaining trusted advisor status with clients is a constant challenge. This standard offers a business model framework to help you achievet that. The ISO standard also gives you an opportunity to demonstrate to clients that you understand the elements that drive a culture of collaboration.

We are seeing more collaborative tools and many more cloud deployed. A recent study indicated that The right collaboration tools can reduce sales and project cycles by up to 40% and minimize lost business opportunities by keeping employees connected across multiple devices and platforms.[1] But it’s also about process.

So why does this matter to the channel? Here are several ideas:

Establishing & maintaining trusted advisor status with clients is a constant challenge.  This standard offers you a framework to develop and improve your processes with.

Business is more complex; MSPs and Solution providers must offer multi vendor solutions to solve complex business problems – all requiring collaboration at the heart. The ISO standard gives you credibility with your clients to demonstrate you understand the elements, and helps you and drive a culture of collaboration with your employees

$15T IOT/IOE market and we see new partner companies emerging. We believe the most successful next wave of “channel’ will be the companies who successfully collaborate with vendors to offer multi vendor solutions to  line of often times non technical line of business decision makers  with unique challenges very different to those of the traditional IT buyers.

They will likely need complementary business partners and alliances in the marketplace – collaboration is critical.

More cloud based communication, collaboration and video tools are available, but adoption is not automatic, so adoption services are needed – all of these tools accelerate the need for strong collaborative business practices.  This is an incredible opportunity for MSPs and Solution Providers.

Globalization requires us to collaborate across boundaries and countries to drive our cloud sales in our customer bases.  Demonstrating that we understand and lead our businesses through an ISO standard builds strong credibility and a foundation for collaborative business practices.

We have the widest age gap of workers in the IT industry – 20 to 70 plus which requires different types of collaboration processes and tools. The more we embed collaboration standards and methods into our businesses, our employees, and our practices – the more likely we are to achieve success with the wide age gap of people we deal with across our companies, suppliers, and clients.

Rapid rates of Innovation and accelerated ROI of 6-12 months expected from customers nowadays; therefore you have to accelerate the time to adoption within the customer base.  That means, customers have to accept and use the technology at a far more rapid speed than in years prior – this requires right first time engagements with them.

In summary, embedding collaborative business relationship management into your organization as a core competency through hiring, training programs, improved business processes, and leadership philosophies has the power to transform how you operate as a company. MSPs can improve their own efficiencies working with clients and provide additional services into their client base. MSPs who embrace and understand the processes, tools and generational implications will have an advantage with their clients when providing any kind of collaboration related expertise.

This is part of a 2 part series, in the next blog we will outline the framework and how to leverage this for success.


About the Author:

Theresa Caragol is founder and CEO of TCC, LLC, and Achieve Unite a strategic advisory firm that provides business acceleration services to global enterprises including partner and channel development, go-to-market planning, M&A channel integration and executive learning forums. She has more than 20 years’ experience in building and managing multi-million dollar indirect channel teams and strategic alliance business and programs from inception to sales success. Prior to founding TCC, Theresa held senior executive roles at Extreme Networks, Ciena and Nortel.

Theresa is passionate about coaching employees and mentoring young people into STEM fields. She is honored to be one of 15 women selected for the First Leadership Foundry in Washington, DC – an organization dedicated to mentoring and recruiting women for positions on corporate boards. Theresa has received numerous IT industry channel accolades recognizing her work including:  2014 CRN Top 50 Most Influential Channel Chiefs, 2013 CRN Top 10 Next Generation Channel Leaders, 2015 Golden Bridge Gold Award for Best Program Leader.

Theresa graduated with honors from Virginia Tech University. She has an MBA from the University of Wisconsin’s Lubar School of Business, and holds an Executive Master’s degree in Leadership from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

[1] Information age, study