Guest Column | December 17, 2015

What IT Service Providers Need To Know About À La Carte Pricing

By David Weeks, Channel Strategy Manager, N-able by SolarWinds

À La Carte IT Services Pricing

With the cloud transforming IT attitudes and new, bigger competitors looking for a piece of the managed services market — often at low, hard-to-beat rates — the IT services business is changing. Yet all that change is opening up new opportunities for valuable services and fresh revenue streams. The challenge is coming up with the right strategy to seize these emerging opportunities.

For the IT channel, servers and network equipment used to be reliable sources of revenue, needing manual maintenance and regular upgrades. Now, with more servers and networks moving into the cloud — where automation reigns supreme — manual maintenance is becoming a thing of the past. As traditional IT infrastructure goes virtual, the big question many IT services firms and managed service providers (MSPs) are asking is, what’s left to be managed?

The Cloud Opportunity

While the nature of today’s IT environments may be changing, the fact is that the cloud brings many of its own requirements for managed services. And the good news is that many of these services can be delivered remotely, creating the opportunity for MSPs to do more work with less technician time and labor, for greater efficiency and higher margins.

Many end user organizations are still trying to come to grips with the cloud — what it is and how it works. They are looking for informed partners who can help them understand and manage their cloud infrastructure, especially as the market has become more complex as massive companies like Microsoft and Google have been drawn into the arena. These tech powerhouses are looking to provide “one-stop” IT services as they see the potential for high-margin services growing. Their access point is infrastructure — the ability to provide the virtualized IT resources needed for the cloud. That begs the question ...what’s the best access point   for   smaller IT services firms?  It’s a domain that’s been traditionally under-explored: the desktop.

Your Competitive Advantage: Provide A Personal Touch

Small and mid-sized channel companies can offer the personal touch that Microsoft and Google can’t, covering onsite management, offsite management, and cloud services. Desktop computers are a potentially enormous market, which IT services firms have left mostly untapped. By harnessing the power of desktop virtualization, these smaller firms can manage all desktops from a central console and deliver solutions through the cloud. This kind of monthly desktop management is easy to sell, easy to buy and easy to manage remotely.

An organization may not be looking for a comprehensive suite of managed services. But they are looking for products and solutions like antivirus, backup, and patching. In aiming for the desktop, it’s a good strategy for small and mid-sized IT services firms to offer these and other services à la carte, as individual offerings for clients to pick from. Even partial management of a user device provides a foot in the door — and usually that’s all a service provider needs.

With à la carte, offerings, IT service firms can charge clients monthly per device or per user for exactly the services they need. It’s an excellent lead-in to bundled and even fully managed services over time. Fast and effective à la carte, have better value than what huge companies can offer, which gives smaller firms an edge when it comes to protecting a customer base, while also helping to drive higher revenue. And when sold through today’s most advanced remote monitoring and management (RMM) platforms, these solutions can be offered as automated, itemized service packages that cover all the bases, across antivirus, backup, help desk, mobile device management, Office 365, patch, remote control, and more.  

À La Carte Solutions Provide Choice

When configured appropriately for the IT service provider and their customers, RMM allows the delivery of à la carte solutions in real-time, straight to the clients’ desktops. This strengthens the customer relationship and empowers channel providers to give customers exactly what they want. And what they want is choice: the ability to choose the services that address their most pressing IT requirements, and to work with an IT services firm that will allow them to achieve their best business outcomes.  

As channel sales manager for SolarWinds N-able, David Weeks works closely with the company's top tier partners and major accounts worldwide to understand their needs, provide insight into current market conditions, and offer strategic sales and marketing recommendations. A regular presenter at the company’s global and regional summits, Weeks is passionate about ensuring the success of SolarWinds N-able's partner base.