Greetings and welcome to ChannelE2E. So why are we here? Why are you here? And what can we achieve together? Glad you asked. Come on in and let's discuss the IT channel market -- and where we're all heading.
For starters, here's a bit about our company (After Nines Inc.), co-founded by Amy Katz and me. We have worked together (on and off) since 1998. We've co-launched, built and sold IT media brands like The VAR Guy, MSPmentor and Talkin' Cloud. We've tracked VARs, MSPs and CSPs in various forms for more than a decade.
Armed with that premise we crafted ChannelE2E's Mission:
"ChannelE2E tracks IT service providers and the five stages of your business journey — from Entrepreneur to Exit (E2E). We shift the IT channel conversation from tactical chatter to strategic discussions — focusing MSPs and VARs on business development, talent recruitment and management, financial models, marketing, sales and customer engagement. We pinpoint the industry’s top KPIs (key performance indicators) — positioning our community members to maximize their business performance, customer satisfaction and company valuation."
But what's the deeper context -- the creative sparks that inspired us to launch ChannelE2E? Frankly, we spotted five market inflection points that ChannelE2E addresses. They include...
Inflection Point 1: Where's the Growth Plan?
Nearly 50 percent of business owners have no long-term growth strategy. Too often, IT service providers focus on tactical items -- a major product upgrade, a hot new service, etc. -- rather than strategic long-term planning.
At the same time, many technology vendors (hardware, software, cloud, etc.) are struggling to grow beyond traditional SMB channel partners. Ever notice how many channel-friendly technology companies pursue IPOs but never quite go public? One of the key reasons: Those technology providers are struggling to find the next wave of channel partners to fuel their revenue pipelines.
Solution: ChannelE2E closely tracks and documents the five stages of a successful business -- from both the partner side and the IT vendor side. Our coverage of each stage involves a healthy mix of tactical and strategic guidance. And by the way, we've spotted the next wave of IT channel partners -- Total Service Providers for short.
Too often, the IT channel obsesses over yesterday's conversations -- "how much should I charge for my service?" The focus needs to shift from that one-off question toward a larger discussion about KPIs (key performance indicators) and best practices for total business automation.
Fortunately, some really smart folks -- organizations like CompTIA, HTG Peer Groups, Service Leadership Inc. and TruMethods, just to name a few -- are driving the KPI conversation forward. We intend to put a megaphone on that conversation.
Solution: For some clues about where we're heading, track our daily coverage and check our growing portfolio of ChannelE2E Databases.
Inflection Point 3: Small, Midmarket and Enterprise Reset
Too often, the industry lumps small and midmarket businesses together under the "SMB" moniker. That's a mistake. Small businesses, midmarket customers and enterprise organizations each have distinct IT needs.
- For IT service providers, you can't just "hire more people" as you seek to grow beyond small business customers into the midmarket.
- Similarly, technology vendors can't force-fit an existing product designed for one market segment (say, truly small business) into another market segment (for instance, a 1,000+ seat midmarket company).
Solution: ChannelE2E tracks the small, midmarket and enterprise IT opportunities as distinct categories that have stepping stones between them (if you know how to find them). The result? From our home page, our readers can view and analyze the entire IT continuum, from small businesses to global 2000 organizations. As vendors and partners attempt to scale up or scale down into specific markets, they'll find specific small, midmarket and enterprise content that fits their needs.
Let's assume the following: The cloud will become ubiquitous and processing costs will continue to plummet. If supercomputer power is available to everyone for pennies on the dollar, how will an IT services business stand out from the crowd? The answer involves your people -- but the talent discussion is pushing far beyond "customer service" and toward the "intellectual property" your team develops for your business.
The talent discussion is filled with plenty of noise. The IT channel seems obsessed with Millennials. We like them, too. But the talent conversation has to stretch far beyond Millennials to include Generation X and Baby Boomers -- and the market realities of each generation:
- Millennials: 35 percent of employed Millennials have started their own business on the side, and 72 percent want to quit their jobs to become entirely independent, according to oDesk and Millennial Branding.
- Generation X: Almost 40 percent say they “don’t at all feel financially secure,” and 38 percent have a negative net worth, according to a Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. survey. Alas, the Great Recession of 2008 -- and multi-year fallout -- often eliminated cost-of-living increases and salary bumps that previous generations took for granted.
- Baby Boomers: Increasingly known as Encore Entrepreneurs, the Baby Boomers are starting their own businesses to pursue life-long dreams or supplement their incomes. But there's still this stark reality: Thousands of Baby Boomers will need to sell their IT services businesses in the next few years as retirement beckons.
Roll all those generations together, and you get an incredibly diverse talent pool -- with conflicting priorities, anxieties and life-work goals you can't ignore.
Solution: We're covering talent management -- recruitment, training and retention -- across all generations. Stay tuned for more moves beyond that...
Nearly 50 percent of business owners have no long-term growth strategy, and 70 percent of small business owners have no exit strategy or succession plan. However, 78 percent of small business owners plan to sell their companies to fund their retirements, according to the Financial Planning Association.
Look at those numbers again. The math simply doesn't work. How can you maximize a business's value -- and fully unlock that value -- without a strategic growth plan?
Fact is, most IT service providers are bogged down in day-to-day tactical decisions rather than long-term planning.
Solution: Here again, ChannelE2E offers the total package -- covering all five market inflection points, and applying the five stages of a successful business to the IT service providers we cover. VARs. MSPs. CSPs. And Total Service Providers, too.
We expect thousands of VARs and MSPs to evolve toward the blended TSP model. And we're also tracking thousands (yes, thousands) of emerging IT companies that are pushing hard into the channel. (That's where our database effort enters the conversation...)
We're also quite fortunate. Channel-friendly companies and IT service providers have a habit of finding us. And we think we're pretty good at finding them as well. Keep an eye on our ChannelE2E Databases for how our community will ultimately grow and evolve.
Welcome and Thank You
So once again, welcome to ChannelE2E. Amy Katz and I thank you for joining us on our latest journey. Actually, it's all about your journey -- from Entrepreneur to Exit (and perhaps back to entrepreneur again).
We look forward to documenting your ambitious E2E journey -- together.