Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Small Business Seeking More Tech Support Help

MSPs serving the SMB tech support market have reason for optimism about the future. According to a new report from Parks Associates, network complexity, growth of cloud services, and BYOD (bring-your-own-device) trends will help drive the U.S. market to a 14.4 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2012 and 2016, reaching nearly $25 billion by 2016.

Parks Associates data shows that 45 percent of U.S. SMBs with 1-20 employees have paid for tech support at least once in the past year. In particular, non-employer SMBs (sole proprietors with a single employee) will total 24 million this year and often find current tech support solutions inadequate. Small business owners can spend up to 20 hours a month dealing with tech support issues, according to Parks Associates findings, and obviously when there is only one or a handful of employees this becomes a huge drain on an extremely precious time resource.

Increasing network complexity and the emergence of cloud storage and application adoption are major drivers of the growing need for managed tech support services in the SMB market. Parks Associates research indicates that cloud services popular with SMBs include collaboration, data backup, storage, and CRM.

How MSPs Can Step In

Parks Associates states that ideally tech support should be delivered by entities that have existing relationships with SMBs, like cable companies and telcos, and that tech support can provide a “great source of incremental revenue for them and also helps keep their services sticky.” Here are a few tips for MSPs who want to successfully compete with the “big boys” for the tech services business of the “little guys.”

Offer Business-Specific Services – Parks Associates identifies SMB tech support products that are “consumer solutions on steroids” as a major problem in this space. Service providers like cable companies and telcos, which typically deal with larger organizations and also have thriving consumer businesses, are especially likely to simply take their consumer offerings and attempt to tweak them for SMB users. MSPs with an SMB practice know the wants and needs of SMBs, which are very different than those of consumers, and develop specialized tech support solutions that are a better fit.

Look to the Cloud – SMBs are interested in using cloud technology but generally lack the internal capabilities to effectively implement or manage cloud-based applications. MSPs should be sure to offer robust cloud support offerings scaled to SMB proprotions.

Time is on Your Side – Time is in many ways the most valuable commodity an SMB has. They don’t want to spend it performing their own tech support or waiting for a large telco provider to finish serving their large clients and get to them. Provide prompt, timely service and SMBs will notice and also tell their friends and colleagues.

From the article, "Small Business Seeking More Tech Support Help" Dan Berthiaume.

Next: Parks Associates: 'Huge' Market for Cloud-based Storage Services


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