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The Business Case for Telecom Services

The Business Case for Telecom Services

In this article, you will find information to help you understand the benefits of adopting Telecom Services into your deliverables.

Why is Telecom So Hot?

In an analysis by CompTIA of the research consultancy IDC’s data in CompTIA’s Industry Outlook 2013 report, CompTIA states: “The IT industry can be segmented into a number of primary categories. One natural dividing line breaks the industry into a grouping of hardware, software and IT services and then a grouping of telecommunication services. Along these lines, the global IT industry consists of a 56% allocation towards hardware, software and IT services and 44% towards telecom services”.

CompTIA goes on to state “With the never ending pressures of convergence, such as in the areas of IT-­‐telecom or IT-A/V, channel firms must contend with new competitors, while not losing sight of new opportunities.”

As a result of the tremendous need for Telecom services by end user customers as reflected by their heavy investments in these services, IT providers that do not include these services in their portfolios are missing a tremendous revenue opportunity.

Telecom solutions

CompTIA states; In its Telecom and IT Partnerships – A Practical Guide for Solution Providers report,: “In yet another indication of changing roles and relationships in the technology industry, traditional IT channel firms increasingly are aligning themselves with agent companies that sell telecom provider services. The business partnerships they are forging together reflect a number of realities today: ongoing convergence between the two industries, the impact of surging trends such as cloud computing, and the need to fill gaps in skill sets to meet customer demand”.

Telecom revenue

As reflected in the above graphic, a considerable amount of revenue is generated from Telecom Agent and VAR relationships, according to respondents of the Channel Partners and CompTIA Agent-VAR Partnering Survey, January 2012. And there is no end in sight, as convergence fuels the adoption of Telecom services into traditional VAR IT solution portfolios. In fact, in its Industry Outlook 2013 report CompTIA states “As the voice and data world merge, parties in both of these channels have found a symbiotic relationship works well to serve customer demand for phone and IT to come in one-stop‐shopping fashion”.

What is Telecom?

In the context of this document, Telecom services include packet and circuit-switched data, Internet and voice services sold to end user customers. These can include broadband and voice services delivered over the traditional PSTN along with Cellular, Satellite, Fiber and Cable networks. Traffic carried over these networks include voice and non-voice data, images, video, fax, interactive services and more. VoIP, local and long distance and voice and enhanced voice services are also delivered over these networks.

 Telecom is the Next Great Opportunity in IT

Delivering and managing recurring revenue-based Telecom Services and Solutions affords you the opportunity to offer additional value-added services to your customers as a result of the need for voice and broadband services in the business environment, powering analog and digital phone systems, Internet access and Cloud services such as email, online applications and data.

Adopting and integrating a Telecom Practice into your business increases customer stickiness and your overall cash flow; improves your business valuation and financial profile, and provides a consistent recurring revenue stream that grows exponentially as you deploy more Telecom Solutions, improving the overall health and stability of your business.

What is the Role of a Telecom Service Provider?

Once Telecom Solutions and Services are added to your deliverables, your role as a Telecom Service Provider is to evaluate and advise your customers in developing and implementing Telecommunications Strategies that incorporate the appropriate blend of analog and digital voice, data and broadband connectivity management Strategies, solutions and services that will meet their business needs and budgets. This includes designing, quoting and selling all of the individual components of a Telecom Solution; including circuits as well as devices, as part of a broad, comprehensive solution sale focused on improving customer business outcomes. Once Telecom Solutions and Services are sold, you will implement, integrate, and customize them for your customers by leveraging your Telecom Vendors’ highly trained and certified engineering staff.

This role will include developing a deep understanding of these services and solutions as they impact operational, financial and technical aspects of customer businesses, with a specific focus on cost savings, availability and redundancy. As a result of the intimate understanding of customer business needs, workflows and environments gained in this role, you will uncover additional opportunities to present and deliver supplementary value-added services and solutions to customers such as Managed Services, Unified Communications and Virtualization; along with Cloud deliverables, to enhance your strategic value to customers, increase customer satisfaction and grow revenues.

The benefits afforded to end customers by adopting your Telecom Solutions include cost savings, more efficient management of voice and data resources, increased business agility and flexibility, productivity and efficiency, improved business continuity and elevated customer satisfaction and retention, among others.

Telecom Products and Peripherals Will Be Sold As Part of a Solution, Not Individually

With the help of your Telecom Vendor; along with the necessary voice and data circuits, you will succeed in designing, quoting and selling all of the individual components of a Telecom Solution. These can include devices such as telephone or VoIP systems, handsets, fax or multifunction devices, audio and videoconferencing hardware, routers, switches, firewalls and wireless access points – as part of a broad, comprehensive solution sale. Along with new recurring monthly revenue, this strategic approach will help grow top-line revenue by increasing the overall value of each sale, and accelerate the attainment of Trusted Advisor status with customers, facilitating additional solution sales in the future.

Delivering Telecom Solutions Uncovers Additional Value-Added Service Sales

The adoption of a Telecom Practice uncovers numerous additional value-added service opportunities, including the delivery of voice and data network readiness assessments and infrastructure improvements and additional project opportunities, and for new recurring revenue realized through the sale of voice, data and cellular services to your customers.

Building a Telecom Practice into Your Existing Business

Your move towards Telecom is evolutionary and not revolutionary, as you will transform your business to support the specific changes required to grow a successful Telecom Practice within it.

In order to determine how to best adopt Telecom into your business, you first need to evaluate your current business model, as this will dictate the roadmap you will follow to integrate or build a Telecom Practice within your organization. Are you primarily a product-centric, time and materials, professional services, cloud or managed services organization today?

Once you have determined your predominant business model, you can create alignment to adopt Telecom as a Telecom Service Provider and begin your transformation.

Along with developing the necessary strategic vendor partnerships and training your staff in the Telecom technologies and solutions you will deliver, in order to successfully adopt and integrate Telecom into your business profitably you will need to strengthen your capabilities to effectively market and sell Telecom Solutions.

Over time, as you grow your Telecom Practice and strengthen your marketing, sales and implementation capabilities and improve your financial profile, you can evolve your practice in a systematic manner to realize greater capabilities, capacities, revenues and profits.

In order to build a successful Telecom Practice, you will need to:

  • Adopt Telecom Solutions into your own practice
  • Identify your target market
  • Determine your Telecom Services and Solutions
  • Align yourself with Strategic Vendor Partners
  • Get trained on marketing, selling, implementing and maintaining your Telecom Solutions
  • Create your marketing plan and go to market
  • Develop your consultative sales process

building a telecom practice

Adopt Telecom Solutions into Your Own Practice

There is no better way to share the benefits of your Telecom Solutions with your prospects and customers than through your own experience in using them. Your own use of these technologies and devices is a powerful subliminal testimonial that will build confidence and trust in your customers and accelerate their decision to adopt them into their own businesses.

Identify Your Target Market

Your target market should be comprised of prospects in your desired geographic area and vertical markets that can afford your solutions. In addition, there should be enough of them to support your sales opportunity goals, and they should have a pain or need that your Telecom Solutions can alleviate for them, such as cost savings, improved productivity, increased business continuity and employee and customer collaboration and improved customer service and service delivery, among others.

Targeting vertical markets that you specialize in can accelerate positive marketing and sales outcomes by leveraging your understanding of these business’ pains and needs, organizational structures, processes and workflows and network infrastructures and technologies in order to engage them more effectively.

Determine Your Telecom Services and Solutions

Your current predominant business model will dictate the ease with which you will be able to adopt and deploy, manage and maintain specific Telecom Services and Solutions for your customers. These may include Telecom Solution Architecture and Design Services, Telecom Device Management and required platform and device specializations.

Align Yourself with Strategic Vendor Partners

One of the most important activities you will conduct in transforming your business to adopt Telecom is the Vendor selection process.

There are several factors that can affect your partnering decisions for Telecom Vendors, including your predominant business model, the Telecom offerings that will comprise your service catalog, your partnering and training costs, your marketing and sales sophistication, your efficiencies in delivering Telecom Solutions and your Telecom Vendor’s compensation and commission plans.

Get Trained on Your Telecom Solutions

Whether you sell to the Small and Medium business or the Enterprise, you will work with your Strategic Vendor Partners; whose solutions you are representing, and enroll in their training programs, as well as identify and engage with other third-party organizations that can offer you the training and support to help you succeed.

Create Your Marketing Plan and Go to Market

By following these steps, you can develop a simple marketing plan for Telecom Solutions, and by executing it consistently, you will create a growing pipeline of prospects:

  • Identify your target audience and obtain a good marketing list
  • Develop your compelling marketing message
  • Deploy that message to your target audience through a variety of vehicles, including postcards, email, your Website and phone calls to set appointments
  • Create a schedule that is consistent and repeatable to include all of your marketing touches
  • Don’t forget your existing customers – they are your warmest market

Once you are ready, you can execute your marketing plan and introduce your Telecom offerings to the market. As you perfect your Telecom practice and sell more solutions, you will increase your overall cash flow; improve your business valuation and financial profile, and provide a consistent revenue stream that will improve the overall health and stability of your business.

Develop Your Consultative Sales Process

The achievement of success in a more service-centric model such as Telecom requires unique skill sets centered on effective sales and long-term relationship-building and customer satisfaction techniques.

Improving your consultative sales sophistication by learning to sell Telecom Solutions more effectively over time will assist you in generating more sales in a shorter period of time, increasing immediate revenues as your closing ratios improve.

Perfecting your consultative sales process will accelerate you towards Trusted Advisor status, easing your way to additional solution sales with your customers.           

The Business Case for Telecom Services

The business case for Telecom Services include the value these services provide to your prospects and customers, along with their tremendous need for these services.

Additional benefits include the ease of sale, implementation and ongoing maintenance for these services, as well as their recurring revenue pricing model that allows exponentially growing annuities to be realized over time as more and more customers are engaged for them.

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3 Tools to Support Managed Service Delivery

3 Tools to Support Managed Service Delivery

In this guide, you will find information to help you understand and make decisions for how to choose and use 3 key Managed Services tools; a Remote Monitoring Solution, a Professional Services Automation Solution (PSA) and a Remote Access Solution.

Whether you are a Solution Provider Owner/Operator, Account Manager or Systems Engineer, you’ll find important information about the considerations and benefits of adding these tools; and creating processes to leverage the efficiencies they provide, to support your Managed Service Delivery.

What are Managed Services Tools?

In this context, Managed Services Tools are defined as those tools which are necessary in order to allow the Solution Provider the ability to move from a reactive service response model to a proactive service approach, and include:

  • A Remote Monitoring Solution
  • A Professional Service Automation (PSA) Solution
  • A Remote Access or Control Solution

Benefits of implementing and using Managed Services Tools

The act of choosing and implementing the appropriate Managed Services Tools is often the first step taken by Solution Providers who are adding Managed Services to their offerings. This is generally for the following reasons:

  • In order to maximize net profits, Managed Service Providers must develop and implement effective policies and procedures to improve their efficiencies in service delivery, and look to Managed Services Tools as a starting point, leveraging their Tools’ built-in templates, workflows and functionality.
  • In order to standardize and document problem resolution, Managed Service Providers use their Tools’ Service Desk functionality to improve and document their service delivery to clients.
  • In order to show value to the end-user client, Managed Service Providers rely on their Tools’ abilities to generate meaningful reports which can be utilized not only for service validation, but also to identify revenue-generating opportunities, such as when a device or service’s monitored threshold is consistently exceeded, signaling an upgrade or up-sell opportunity.
  • In order to be alerted as quickly as possible to potential problems in client environments, Managed Service Providers establish proactive alerting and escalation of alerts in order to maximize their response time, allowing them the ability to act proactively to prevent or minimize service interruption.
  • In order to speed response and resolution times, Managed Services Providers leverage Managed Services Tools to remotely access and control end user devices and desktops.
    In order to improve staff utilization, Managed Service Providers schedule and automate the delivery of common maintenance activities such as operating system, application software, antivirus and antispyware patching and updating through the use of Managed Services Tools, freeing their staff to work on greater revenue-generating activities.

By administering maintenance and end-user support services remotely, Managed Services Providers further increase their efficiencies and staff utilization, and improve end-user response and resolution time, raising client satisfaction, and helping to foster the perception of the Managed Service Provider as the Trusted Advisor.

managed services tools

The benefits of the implementation of Managed Services Tools by the Service Provider is valuable to the client as well, for the more efficiently and proactively the Tools allow the Service Provider to maintain the client’s network and increase the client’s productivity, reducing reactive maintenance costs, and mitigating business risk, the more successful and profitable the client’s business will become.

Specific Tools for Specific Roles

In order to provide a well-rounded approach to proactive service delivery, the Service Provider must be equipped to monitor and service client networks, and document the results of their actions. In addition, their profitability increases the more they are able to provide these services remotely.

The Remote Monitoring Tool

The ability for the Service Provider to proactively monitor critical devices and services is a fundamental necessity for the capability to maintain and increase client uptime. The most effective network monitoring solutions allow the Service Provider to install a software Agent on a server or desktop in a client’s environment and initially obtain such data as:

  • Hardware Asset, Role and Inventory information
  • Operating System, Application Software and Licensing and Patch level information
  • Device IP address information
  • Physical System Information (Memory, Disk, NIC, etc.)
  • Running processes
  • Up/Down device status

After a predetermined period of time, the remote monitoring tool will be able to gather data and report on items such as the following:

  • Syslogs
  • Event Logs
  • System Uptime

The remote monitoring tool’s capability to allow the Service Provider to configure pre-set Alert Thresholds for critical devices and services is a key to maximizing client uptime and maintaining SLA’s. Commonly monitored devices include:

  • Servers
  • Routers
  • Switches
  • Firewalls
  • IP Phones
  • Access Points
  • PC’s
  • Printers

In addition to hardware devices, critical services can also be monitored, alerted on and escalated. Commonly monitored Services include:

  • Broadband Services
  • Email Services
  • Web Services
  • SQL Services
  • Backup Services
  • Antivirus Services

Not only hardware and services can be monitored, but critical Line-Of-Business Applications are also capable of being monitored and alerted on. Monitoring Tools normally utilize the following protocols to perform their function:

  • WMI
  • Syslog
  • SNMP

What to look for in a Remote Monitoring Tool

A Solution Provider today has the benefit of a wide variety of remote monitoring tools to choose from, and several factors will weigh in their final purchase decision:

  • Suitability for their particular business model and supported hardware and services
  • Cost and ROI
  • Implementation, Training and Deployment time
  • The ability to provide meaningful reporting
  • The quality of Vendor support
  • The ability to and ease of integration with their PSA Solution

Solution Providers whose business model focuses on supporting Microsoft Operating Systems and Software and IBM-compatible hardware benefit from the widest selection of remote monitoring tools. Those whose business models include support for Operating Systems such as Apple, Linux and Novell, and other 3rd-Party Software and hardware will currently find their choices for Monitoring Tools more limited.

Many remote monitoring tool vendors include Hosted, or “Pay As You Go” pricing models, lowering the barrier to entry for Solution Providers, as well as other, more traditional pricing models. Hosted Monitoring Tool Solutions also reduce Implementation and Deployment time, as the need for the Solution Provider to procure, build and configure host server hardware is eliminated.

The ability for the remote monitoring tool to document Alerts, Errors and Informational data through a robust reporting engine is necessary when validating the Solution Provider ‘s services to clients, and crucial when justifying budget requests for service or equipment upgrades and capacity planning.

As a result of remote monitoring tool vendors’ efforts to gain market share, overall vendor support has improved, with services such as sales and marketing training, templates and collateral being offered, in addition to product training. Solution Providers should make certain to choose a vendor that provides support during the Solution Provider’s hours of operation. Depending upon the vendor and Solution Provider’s geographic locations, time zone factors should be considered.

A critical function that the remote monitoring tool must provide is tight integration with the Solution Provider’s PSA Solution, which handles Service Request, or Trouble Ticketing duties among others. The remote monitoring tool must be able to communicate Alerts to the PSA Solution, and open a Service Request, documenting the Alert, and enabling the PSA Solution to assign the appropriate Priority and SLA to the Service Request, and alert and escalate the problem as appropriate.

The PSA Solution

Choosing and implementing a Professional Services Automation (PSA) Solution in the Solution Provider’s practice is the next step in improving efficiencies by implementing a consistent workflow process and reporting capabilities across multiple business units:

  • Service Desk
  • Professional Services
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Purchasing
  • Inventory
  • Accounting

What to look for in a PSA Solution

As in a Solution Provider’s decision to purchase a Monitoring Tool, similar factors weigh in the PSA Solution’s purchase decision:

  • Suitability for their particular business model
  • Cost and ROI
  • Implementation, Training and Deployment time
  • The ability to provide meaningful reporting
  • The quality of Vendor support
  • The ability to and ease of integration with their Monitoring Tool Solution

Solution Providers whose business model focuses on delivering Problem Resolution and Professional Services to clients, and require the ability to document services and time expended on service delivery will benefit greatly from a PSA Solution.

Like Monitoring Tool vendors, many PSA Solution vendors also include Hosted, or “Pay As You Go” pricing models, lowering the barrier to entry for Solution Providers, as well as other, more traditional pricing models. As with Hosted Monitoring Tool Solutions, Hosted PSA Solutions also reduce Implementation and Deployment time.

Although a Service Request or Trouble-ticketing system is required for a Solution Provider to integrate with their Monitoring Tool in order to deliver a higher degree of service to clients and improve internal efficiencies, a PSA Solution offers much more than this. Effective PSA Solutions provide the following benefits to a Solution Provider:

  • A CRM System
  • A Service Request or Trouble Ticketing Component
  • A Project Management Component
  • A Scheduling & Dispatching Component
  • A Time & Expense Tracking Component
  • An Inventory Control Component
  • An Asset Management Component
  • A Configuration & Change Management Component
  • A Service Agreement & SLA Management Component
  • A Knowledge Base Component
  • A Resource Management Component
  • Quoting & Invoicing Integration with Accounting Systems
  • A Sales Funnel Component
  • Robust, customizable reporting

The PSA Solution’s CRM functionality allows the Solution Provider to automate their workflows and record and report on client-facing processes such as sales, marketing, projects and services. Applied correctly, this process-based mechanism boosts client satisfaction, shortens sales cycles, simplifies project and problem management, facilitates escalation and improves resolution time.

Other Solution Provider functions benefiting from a PSA Solution include effective resource management through efficient scheduling and dispatching, time tracking and expense management – with key metrics including utilization and net profit by deliverable easily tracked and reported on.

The ability for the PSA Solution to manage client Assets and Configurations further increases the Solution Provider’s efficiencies and speeds problem resolution. And, when paired with Change Management, the Solution Provider can insure that standardized methods and procedures are followed to handle all changes to a client’s infrastructure, minimizing the negative impact of any change-related incidents.

In order to effectively deliver problem management and resolution services, the Solution Provider will leverage the PSA Solution’s Service Request, or Trouble Ticketing component, and build their Service Desk offering around an effective, standards-based problem management process; incorporating problem identification, prioritization and escalation for timely resolution, all governed by a strict SLA. The ability for the Solution Provider’s Monitoring Tool to integrate with the PSA Solution’s Service Request component is critical for maximizing efficiencies and maintaining SLA’s, as Alerts are passed from the Monitoring Tool to the PSA Solution to automate the creation, prioritization and escalation of Service Requests. As issues are closed, the PSA Solution updates its internal searchable Knowledge Base with each resolution, allowing the Solution Provider and their staff the ability to quickly query their own internal database during future problem resolution – a true benefit, especially when dealing with specific Line-of-Business applications or unique hardware and software configurations.

Integration with a Solution Provider’s quoting and accounting solutions further extends the value of the PSA Solution, reducing redundant data entry, increasing efficiencies and speeding turnaround time for client quotes and Invoices.

The Solution Provider’s sales process also benefits from the PSA Solution’s ability to create customized workflows based upon specific solution sales processes and cycles, tracking each milestone during the sales process and managing the Sales Funnel. As with the Service Request component, the Sales component enforces a strict sales process, standardizing each step in the sales cycle and providing meaningful data through reporting, which allows the Solution Provider to forecast potential revenue accurately, or modify sales processes in order to achieve their desired outcome.

In many cases, implementing a PSA Solution into a Solution Provider’s practice and enforcing management of each business unit by the processes and workflows established will be difficult and challenging, but in order to transition to not only a proactive service delivery model, but also a proactive business operations model, it is the most efficient and effective answer.

managed service delivery PSA Solution

The Remote Access Solution

A necessary but sometimes overlooked Managed Services Tool is the Solution Provider’s Remote Access Solution, or Solutions, as there are two specific scenarios addressed by these tools:

  • Remotely accessing equipment
  • Remotely sharing a desktop session with an end-user

These scenarios each require a different capability and approach by the Remote Access Solution. In the case of remotely accessing equipment, the Solution Provider can use already-existing methods, such as Secure Telnet or SSH, or VPN with RDC for Windows servers and desktops. But in those situations that require interaction with an end-user remotely, the Solution Provider will need the ability to share the user’s desktop, take control of the user’s keyboard and mouse, and interact in real-time for effective and timely problem resolution.

What to look for in a Remote Control Tool

A Solution Provider today has the benefit of a wide variety of remote control tools to choose from, and as with any purchasing decision of this type, factors that will weigh in their final decision include:

  • Suitability for their particular business model and supported hardware and services
  • Cost and ROI
  • Implementation, Training and Deployment time
  • The quality of Vendor support

Solution Providers whose business model focuses on supporting Microsoft Operating Systems and Software and IBM-compatible hardware benefit from the widest selection of Remote Control Tools. Those whose business models include support for Apple Operating Systems will find their choices for Remote Control Tools much more limited.

As with remote monitoring and PSA solutions, many remote control tool vendors include Hosted, or “Pay As You Go” pricing models, as well as other, more traditional pricing models. Many of the Remote Control Tools available to the Solution Provider are easy to implement, simple to deploy and do not require extensive training to utilize effectively. Effective Remote Control Tools should provide the following functionality:

  • Secure connectivity to the target PC
  • The ability to take complete control of the target PC
  • Fast performance
  • The ability to perform File Transfers between source and target PC’s
  • The ability to print from the target PC to the host PC’s printers
  • The ability to switch focus between the target PC’s to the source PC, allowing the end user to view the source PC’s desktop (for training and other purposes)
  • The ability to rapidly deploy, or make available any necessary Agents to the target PC
  • A Web-based architecture to allow functionality from any source PC in any location

Any solution that allows access to an internal network should be secure, minimizing the client’s external footprint. The Remote Control Tool should provide this security natively, in order to be considered a viable choice for the Solution Provider.

The ability to completely control the target PC by the Solution Provider greatly increases their ability to quickly and effectively troubleshoot end user issues remotely, increasing utilization, efficiency and client satisfaction.

The Remote Control Tool’s performance is critical in remote problem resolution – the faster the response, the better for both the Solution Provider and the end user.

The ability to transfer data between PC’s is also a requirement, as the replacement of Operating System or Software Application files is a common necessity, as is the pushing of patches and updates to the target PC from time to time.

Printing files accessed from the target PC to the source without the necessity to install and configure printer drivers also benefits the Solution Provider during problem resolution.

Rapid deployment of Agents, or the ability to host Agents on the Solution Provider’s website or support portal provides maximum speed and availability for Remote Control support to the client, and the ability to provide this support from any web browser at any location provides maximum flexibility in addressing end user issues.

remote control managed service delivery

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