I often advise my clients (B2B software vendors and professional services firms) to seriously consider well-targeted markets that require extensive expertise that will set the vendor apart. These markets might be a specific industry focus or niche services for distinct industry or business problems. Such specialized offerings provide an important way that vendors can competitively differentiate on real performance that benefits their clients. MSPs are no different in this respect, particularly as traditional IT managed services have become highly commoditized, with an overflowing field of competitors.
Distinctive Expertise Means Big Value for Clients and for MSPs
To provide niche or industry-specific services means developing in-depth expertise for that particular service offering, both in terms of the industry or niche and the problems that need to be solved. The MSP becomes highly proficient in understanding the details of a specific industry need - on all fronts: business; technology; processes; practices; external requirements such as compliance; and how the new services will impact client imperatives.
Hands-on expertise is essential. The MSP becomes the "go-to-guy" for certain industries or business specialties because of proven knowledge and ability. This expertise serves to market the MSP naturally through real demonstrations of subject matter mastery and problem-solving. It will require that the MSP directly participate in the world of the specialty, including attending events, user group meetings, training opportunities, and so on. Such events provide excellent access to potential clients, as well as organic marketing through articles, blog posts and news releases written about the events by other parties.
When MSPs specialize, they're able to walk in the shoes of their clients, to better understand what they are facing, and to visualize new ways to help them solve problems. The MSP now walks the walk, as well as talks the talk. Being able to speak the same language as customers and users engenders trust and opens clearer lines of communication. Hands-on expertise in specialized areas allows the MSP to know what matters to their clients and what solutions will make a difference. And their clients will quickly see that the MSP is for real.
Knowing specific industries or niche markets makes it easier to assess the needs of each customer, and to determine the best solutions. The MSP builds a knowledge bank of problems, pitfalls and best practices related to solutions for focused markets. As a result, reusability becomes a competitive advantage for the MSP, from assessing client needs and constructing bids, to basing applications and solutions on proven solution templates. MSPs become thoroughly in the know for the top industry preferences for specific software solutions and the corresponding software ecosystem.
All of this leads to opportunities for unique services that few other MSPs are able to provide.
Technology Services Focus for Retail Fashion Industry
New York City-based service provider eMazzanti Technologies has been actively targeting the retail fashion industry with services to improve transactional technologies, such as mobile POS systems, and services for comprehensive cyber security. eMazzanti provides extensive security services for customer and business data protection, including network security solutions and appliances, supplemented by eMazzanti monitoring and remediation services.
To deepen industry expertise, eMazzanti staff now includes experienced retail fashion professionals. eMazzanti sees greater opportunity in serving broad needs across a retail fashion business, beyond the traditional IT services of the past:
Looking to enhance clients' retail revenue growth, the company is continually assessing emerging technologies such as digital mirrors, interactive product displays and customer recognition systems for retail customers. Existing and future technologies depend on reliable and secure network design and deployment, eMazzanti's core strength.
Selling Value over Price
Traveling the path of niche and industry services helps smart MSPs escape endless pricing "wars" for commoditized services provided by innumerable MSPs. Value is immediately obvious to clients when focused services are available for unique needs within an industry or niche market.
All clients want top notch technology services providers, and many are on the lookout for services that have a tight fit for their specific industry or niche. Tailored services offer such clients competitive advantage for attaining business objectives. Clients know their businesses can see healthy growth when partnered with MSP firms committed to deep expertise for their clients' specific industry needs.
Image source: dev2ops.org
This post was brought to you by IBM for MSPs and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM's PivotPoint. Dedicated to providing valuable insight from industry thought leaders, PivotPoint offers expertise to help you develop, differentiate and scale your business.
About the author: Julie Hunt understands the overlap and convergence of many business processes and software solutions that once were thought of as "separate" – and how this impacts software Vendors and Buyers, as well as the strategies that enterprises implement for how technology supports the business and its customers. Julie shares her takes on the software industry via her blog Highly Competitiveand on Twitter: @juliebhunt For more information: Julie Hunt Consulting