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The rise of the outsourced CIO

Forget about being a ‘trusted advisor’. It’s time for Kiwi managed service providers to step up to being an ‘outsourced CIO’.

That’s the message from LogicNow’s Kris Hansen, who says while trusted advisors denote a step up from the basic ‘break-fix’ offering of some resellers, the role is still reactionary, relying on the customer to call them when they have issues.

Hansen, LogicNow’s ANZ regional manager, says the integrated IT service management platform provider, previously named GFI, is keen to see its local partners ‘take the initiative’ and transition to being ‘outsourced CIOs’.

The company has about 100 ‘IT shops’ in New Zealand, with Soft Solutions as its distributor.

“Customers come to their IT provider after they have already made a decision about their IT. Businesses are havng to work out what IT they need to have, and they are not technical.

“The MSPs who we’re seeing being really successful are meeting with customers every month or so and having a non-technical discussion. They’re not talking about what broke and how it was fixed, but about the client’s business in the last months, and what they’re looking to achieve.

“Yes, there will be a summary of what was broken and fixed, but most is around ‘tell me about your business’.”

Hansen says customers often won’t realise the role IT can play in new business plans and even when selecting an IT solution, may chose ‘a square peg for a round hole’.

“Then the reseller has to make it work, because they don’t want to let their customer down.

“But getting in early could save the customer money, by providing the right solution for their needs.”

It’s that getting in early, and having an ongoing, regular conversation with customers, that elevates resellers from ‘trusted advisor’ to ‘outsourced CIO’, Hansen says.

“While it is admirable that these MSPs have seen the virtue of moving the client relationship beyond basic repair and maintenance, the issue is that trusted advisor is the wrong – or at least inadequate – positioning.

“It’s too broad and vague a role. It gives the impression of only being called upon when remembered, rather than having an ingrained day-to-day role.

“It also insinuates an external third party, which only confirms or continues the limits of the supplier-client relationship.

“And it’s still kind of reactionary.”

Hansen says outsourced CIO on the other hand is far stronger – and a much stronger proposition for resellers.

“It suggests defined responsibilities with a pervasive reach throughout the business.

“Spanning technology, policy and the business, it is a term that places the MSP firmly within the team.”

Hansen sasy the MSP supplier-client relationship has had to evolve fundamentally to one of trust and inclusion and while this suggests that trusted advisor fits the bill, trust is only earned, not bought.

“And trust can only be earned with sufficient, genuine engagement. It requires a methodical evolution from being strangers, to acquaintances, to colleagues, to trusted advisors and then beyond to teammate, such as CIO.”