For tech providers working to remain relevant and successful in the market as it emerges from the global pandemic, the best strategy going forward might be as simple as backing the services they already provide to keep customers instead of relying on prior wins.
This is according to Darryl Swann, founder, chairman and director of Microsoft Gold Partner DataSentinel, who suggests that, in the current dynamic and disrupted business climate, it’s better for partners to focus on the existing value of their offering and making the most of it going forward — as long as they’re operating with an 'as-a-service' model.
“Back the service that you provide to retain clients – not the legacy contracts that [you] have signed,” Swann told Reseller News. “Still, be prepared to adapt and invest, as the market will not stay still.”
According to Swann, one of the company’s taglines has been 'bringing the service back to managed services'.
“If we achieve that, then we will have been successful,” he said. “Too often, clients are signed up and forgotten. We aim to deliver a service-rich service – people-heavy, delivering proactive insights and advice.”
Swann, who founded and was managing director of technology provider CCL for decades before founding DataSentinel, also stressed that partners must also be prepared to become true as-a-service, and entirely consumption-based in their business models if they are to be successful in the market, post-pandemic.
This is sound reasoning, given that the pandemic, thus far, has resulted in a dramatic surge of demand in the already wildly popular growth areas of cloud infrastructure and cloud-based solutions and services.
Indeed, DataSentinel is using this time of uncertainty to double down on its existing offering of managed database support services with a heavy cloud focus. Its flagship DataAssure product has been developed with public cloud in mind.
The company is working to continue to deliver more value within its tool-set to its clients while also building out further integration with public cloud technologies and expanding its current partner ecosystem.
A Gold Microsoft Partner, DataSentinel was founded in 2019 to plug what Swann refers to as a “significant gap” in the market.
“We started small, focusing on developing an industry-leading managed service framework and have been growing steadily to now have a team across the country focussed on the delivery of service rich managed services,” Swann said.
The company delivers secure, optimised SQL Server database platforms for its customers’ critical systems, whether on-premises, in public cloud or hybrid cloud environments.
Importantly, the company’s business model is to partner with service providers where possible, delivering an integrated solution to clients.
Given that DataSentinel’s journey is still very much in its early days, the company has largely retained the high level strategies it developed prior to the pandemic, although Swann concedes that the company now has an even greater opportunity than it may have had before COVID-19 hit.
“Although our services are extremely cost effective is appealing, the fact that they can lead directly on to other areas of potential cost savings for businesses is a huge opportunity,” Swann said.
“Looking at servers from a TCO [total cost of ownership] perspective, identifying areas for consolidation, removing surplus Infrastructure and licensing costs where possible and generally being smarter about where a dollar is spent,” he added.
Meeting emerging needs
Some might view a start-up in the current environment as a somewhat tenuous proposition. However the timing is probably working in DataSentinel’s favour to some degree, with the wholesale switch to remote working environments across industry accelerating the shift to cloud-based or as-a-service offerings in many areas.
According to Swann, clients are now wanting managed service providers (MSPs) to be true as-a-service and entirely consumption-based.
“Sub-par service will no longer be tolerated and clients will be holding partners to account (or voting with their feet) to ensure that deliverables are met,” Swann cautioned. “Partners need to ensure that they maintain high levels of service, at the same time when many of them are looking at ‘cost out’ initiatives.”
Given Swann’s preoccupation on the value of retaining customers in the current climate and what comes next, it comes as little surprise, perhaps, that DataSentinel doesn’t intend on giving up on its customer retention focus any time soon.
“We will always have a focus on retention,” Swann said. “Part of the philosophy being that if you do a great job with existing clients, then they become your sales force -and the momentum continues.
“Clearly, as a start-up, acquisition is also important, but unequivocally existing clients are our number one focus,” he added.
This is probably a good approach, with Swann and team finding that, in general, spending within the market has slowed. As such, existing customer relationships are valuable.
But at the same time there are some new opportunities out there as well, even as some of the larger, more transformative projects are put on hold with clients generally more aware as to where their investment dollars are spent.
“With the market contracting, clients are in a stronger position to leverage partners,” Swann said. “This may be going to market for savings where they may have historically rolled contracts over. They should be looking for a fair price alongside more value, proactivity and in general higher service levels.”
This dynamic is being driven, to some degree, by the challenges being faced by businesses in the current climate. While these vary between industries, most businesses generally are dealing with financial pressures.
In some cases, these financial pressures will force IT investment budgets to be reduced or held back, but in other instances it could see the acceleration of a project already in the works, representing a bit of a silver lining in a largely contracting market.
“CIO’s will have the added challenge of needing to fast track some projects (e.g. mobility and remote working) while at the same time maintaining infrastructure and reducing costs,” Swann said.
“From an Infrastructure perspective some are pushing forward with transformation projects faster than they were before — many though are just seeing the next few months through without any major capital projects or changes."
“From a user perspective, there is a general interest in public cloud and certainly mobility and remote working is a much higher priority than before,” he added.
Reseller News Advance is a centralised editorial resource designed to help partners access forward-looking content as the New Zealand market attempts to reposition for growth.