Gartner advises MSP conference on mindsets, partnering

Mark Paine, Gartner research director on the technology and service provider team, told 200 service providers at the Summit: “Digital business is real but you have to get in the right mindset – stop thinking about the order and instead become a true business improvement provider.” This quote is from Jill Konrath who he acknowledged. “Stop thinking about the order and start thinking of yourself as a business improvement specialist."

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Mark Paine said technology and service providers had to take account of the changing attitudes of buyers, focus on business outcomes and big expectations among buyers that IT an asset for the business.

“Digital business requires more than 'point' products and services,” said Paine. To help address the market requirements, he said, Technology and service providers also had to carefully choose go-to-market partners that can talk both technology and business. And they had to start with a vision; look at use cases; and consider processes, challenges and outcomes for their customers. Customer acquisition costs (CAC) versus lifetime value (LTV) also had to be brought into the equation, considering margins, partnering agreements and who owns the invoice, and on-going up-selling/cross-selling opportunities.

With growing market technologies like IoT sometimes requiring up to 20 products and services to enable the end customer to get what they want, says Mark Paine, providers cannot do it all by themselves - “you may lead in some areas but not in another”. That wouldn't be that surprising in IoT, considering anything from sensors and components to business applications had to be considered, with things like network gateways and data storage in between.

“While it's best to get the number of partners down, you may find that the customer will force you to use a particular partner,” Paine said. He also warned that technology and service providers may well have to take a leaf out of the book of the old IBM mainframe sales people, around continuing evaluation. Paine said: “IBM was known for doing board presentations to show companies what their multi-million pound mainframes were doing for their business, MSPs may well have to do the same around cloud services.”

The rewards for getting it right though were substantial, he said, including valuable access to customers' ecosystems, becoming a pivotal part of the customers' success, and benefiting from lead sharing with technology partners.