From The Editor | November 11, 2016

Lessons From The Road

By The Business Solutions Network

09_BSM_Dec_RealityCheck

As this issue reaches everyone’s mailbox in the first week of December, I’ll be wrapping up my last business trip of the year by attending Ingram Micro’s fall ONE conference in Las Vegas. Including this trip, my fall event calendar was pretty full. Between partner conferences, expos, trade shows, and Business Solutions’ own events, I hit up eight events over the past few months. While each event was different, in looking back through my notebook, I see some repeating trends. Additionally, there are some important comments I haven’t been able to share until now.

As-a-Service Is For Real
No matter the event, solutions providers are seeking new recurring revenue sources. The primary method of earning monthly recurring revenue is by offering services. At Harbortouch’s partner conference, I heard a lot about their POS-as-a-Service model and saw some exciting new products that their partners will have available in just a few weeks to kick off 2017. At ScanSource’s POS and Barcoding event, there was also plenty of talk around services and recurring revenue. And, of course, at IT Nation, an undercurrent of the entire event was the concept of recurring revenue through a managed services delivery model. At the same time, I’ve been hearing that many customers are now more interested in OPEX-funded solutions and services as opposed to CAPEX. With customers preferring the model, and solutions providers benefiting so much, I don’t see things changing any time soon.

Broaden Your Portfolio
A theme at the distributor-hosted events was to sell deeper into one’s customers by offering technologies and solutions you’ve been overlooking. Every customer can benefit from remote monitoring and management, backup and recovery, and security solutions, but many can also use video surveillance, managed print services, Office 365, and so on. Rather than pass up opportunities to sell your customers additional products and services, broaden your line card and get involved. Many managed services providers (MSPs) are looking for ways to add services and gain stickiness. In the POS world, with increased competition, it makes even more sense to differentiate by offering complex solutions that address the mobile and omnichannel needs of today’s merchants. At Money 2020, I saw firsthand how many payment companies plan to continue to target the POS market. Traditional POS VARs can either become a casualty or take control of their own future by aggressively differentiating.

Put A Spotlight On Security
Regardless of whether your customers are in some way affected by PCI or HIPAA regulations, security should be a big focus for you in 2017. At every event, I had conversations with solutions providers about security. If you aren’t selling security services (malware protection, minimally), you should be. However, know that there isn’t a single solution on the market that will prevent 100 percent of attacks. If a product claims to, be skeptical. In addition to offering security solutions, you should also be offering network assessments and services designed to bolt down the networks of your customers. The bad guys have learned that all data is valuable to the owner of that data. Ransomware attacks can cripple any one of your customers, regardless of their size or market, so it’s imperative that you take steps to provide protection.

Taken separately, incorporating any one of these three trends into your business can have a positive impact in the coming year. If you can manage to bring them all together, you’ve got the makings for not just a lucrative year, but a more stable business moving forward.