According to my high school English teacher, specificity is the key to effective communication and understanding. Unfortunately for managed service providers (MSPs) the term “managed services” does not communicate the specific services they offer, which makes it difficult for potential customers to understand the potential benefits of doing business with MSPs in general, let alone provide the information needed to differentiate one MSP from another in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Many MSPs are suffering from a failure to communicate judging by the muddled messages on their websites. “The average MSP website is stuck on terms that don’t fully articulate the range of products and services MSPs can offer,” explained Carolyn April, senior director of industry analysis at CompTIA, which recently released its 4th Annual Trends in Managed Services research.
The research revealed end-user adoption habits, service usage patterns, customer preferences, and market challenges MSPs must overcome. One such challenge is that while IT cost-savings remains a strong motivator for organizations to engage MSPs, it’s not necessarily the aspect MSPs should emphasize. “Customer expectations about the level of achievable cost savings have mellowed to more reasonable numbers,” April explained. “Customers are looking for benefits beyond a slimmer IT budget in their use of an MSP.” A growing number of customers expect moving to managed services will be cost-neutral, but that it will add value in other areas, such as improved operational efficiency, increased employee productivity, and a more proactive approach to IT.
Daniel Newman blogged about the challenge facing MSPs when they use the vague and misleading term “managed services” to market their services. He recommended MSPs focus instead on the specific services they offer. Especially since there’s often a wide variety of services that MSPs provide, including infrastructure, platforms, software, and analytics. “When MSPs fail to relate the wide-ranging nature of their business to their clients,” Newman explained, “their job often gets relegated to mere IT project management, or reactive rather than proactive work. This not only limits the opportunities for MSPs, but also proves to be a detriment for clients.” Instead of managed service providers, MSPs must market themselves as specific service providers.