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By Eric Marcus, Owner and CEO, Marcus Networking
One of the most important things you can to do to grow your MSP business is to uncover your customers’ business challenges and identify how you can address them.
Whether a company needs a custom solution to address their needs or help adopting new technologies or complying with new rules, we see these as opportunities for us at Marcus Networking to better serve our customers. Regardless of the path taken, our clients begin to trust us and value us because they know they will benefit, and our business grows. We become a trusted advisor.
Having open conversations with customers about their real needs and challenges can also reveal emerging opportunities in niche markets. While some opportunities are further along than others, all have promising futures. Three places I see an immediate growing need for managed services are healthcare, manufacturing and small agriculture. Here's why: 1. Healthcare: The Affordable Care Act has greatly accelerated adoption of digital records and workflows across healthcare. Not only are operations of all sizes affected, but every intake and hand-off of patient data is too. There is tons of work to be done.
For instance, our clients who are doctors told us they didn't have a way to securely and compliantly send digital patient records when they were out of the office, so we created one. It's a low-price, monthly service that now boasts about 1,000 users.
2. Manufacturing: Despite its reputation as an "old economy" industry, manufacturing is on the cutting-edge of advanced technology. Process automation is predominant, and digital platforms and 3-D printing have revolutionized product design.
At one client site, I witnessed a touchless transfer of data from a CAD platform to a perfect, 3-D printed model to an actual finished product in less than half a day.
Digitally-driven manufacturing presents opportunities on the front and back ends of systems. Behind each user interface are dense data files that need to be stored, managed and secured — but also accessible. 3. Small Agriculture: Did you ever wonder why there are stickers on produce? It's part of a massive digital tracking system that documents the produce's journey from farm to table. As demand for more locally-grown produce spreads, small farmers will expand to meet demand and their managed services will also need to expand.
When we began working with one of our agriculture clients it had three employees, one software application and one server. Today, he has 45 employees in multiple locations connecting remotely to four centrally located servers.
If you're looking for growth opportunities for your MSP business, I recommend two things. First, talk to your existing clients about their businesses and their challenges — those conversations are full of opportunities. Second, ask your clients if their peers are feeling the same pain points. If so, you've discovered another avenue to opportunity — an emerging trend.
Eric Marcus has been Owner and CEO of Marcus Networking for 14 years and is an Autotask consultant and certified partner (CCP). As a CCP, he works with other MSPs that are focused on changing their break/fix model to a predictable managed services model. He has successfully onboarded more than 20 companies ranging in size from 3 to 100 employees.
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