In recent blog posts we’ve noted there is a fundamental transformation taking place in the types of products and services offered by web and app hosting providers. Those who wait too long to understand changing marketplace dynamics and respond will find themselves scrambling to retain their share of a shrinking pie.
Here at R1Soft, we’re committed to helping our customers get out in front of change, so you can be among the first to capture emerging opportunities rather than drifting toward the back of the pack. So today’s question is: could managed services be your new services?
The Managed Services Trend in Web and App Hosting
451 Research states, “Managed services are becoming an increasingly modular component of infrastructure services, and are being increasingly applied by service providers across a wider range of infrastructure and application environments.” Today, managed services are being tailored to:
- Specific applications -- most notably WordPress
- Third-party services like Office 365
- Public cloud infrastructure
Hosted infrastructure products are now more complex. As a result, end-users are looking for help managing more aspects of their IT environment. These companies aren’t in the IT business. They don’t want the hassle or the distraction, they merely want things to work well and smoothly. This is the driving force behind the stratification of managed services.
What Does This Mean for Providers Like You?
We’ve mentioned before, but it always bears repeating, that you cannot successfully market your company without knowing your customers. You need deep understanding of current customers in order to build stronger relationships, retention and up-sales.
You need deep understanding of your prospects, too, if you expect to prove your value as their web and application hosting partner-of-choice. Especially if your business growth strategy includes entering a new industry or geographic market, how can you appeal to those new and different prospects without knowing what is most challenging and meaningful for them?
Once you’ve analyzed your target audiences current status and key challenges, then what?
Reassess Your Offerings
No longer just a type of hosting, “managed” has become a service that can applied specifically to a wide variety of products. So in addition to offering products, you could add relevant managed services to reinforce your value to current and prospective customers. Use what you’ve learned from your analysis to determine if managed services make sense for you and, if so, which ones.
Almost any type of hosted service can be managed as a service. You could help customers manage their current infrastructure products as well as other products your company provides. It’s an opportunity to work with each customer to mix and match options, designing a uniquely-tailored package of products and services. Depending on your business goals and clientele, you could:
- Offer a menu of a la carte managed services
- Bundle managed services around the apps your target audience uses most often
- Offer and support additional applications like shopping carts or CMS
- Syndicate third-party services
- Offer customizable “turnkey” packages that include all services pertinent to a particular customer
Consider how you might broaden SLAs and support options for the applications your customers use most. 451 Research suggests “line-of-business apps in the case of specialists, modern database and data visualization tools, applied infrastructure services like backup and recovery, as well as managed CMSs.” They believe content management systems represent the broadest area of opportunity for web and app hosting providers.
WordPress: the Land of Opportunity
Among CMS alternatives, WordPress is the largest player with more than 60% of the market. The sheer volume of WordPress users, coupled with the potential to offer management as a premium service presents a significant opportunity to build a valuable managed WordPress hosting practice. Businesses of all types and sizes use WordPress, so this strategy likely applies to your target market no matter what their industry.
Perhaps even more important, offering WordPress management opens the door for you to attract more Web professionals as customers. That’s because website and content developers generally do not have the resources or the inclination to host their clients’ websites.
Consulting: Another Land of Opportunity
You may already offer consulting services, formally or informally. But your customers need that now, more than ever. They are looking toward managed services (even if they don’t call it that) as well as innovative new products and other services to relieve their IT burden. Without your support and expert advice, they may not be able to find the best solutions.
So become their go-to professional resource. Help them determine exactly where they need help and what solution(s) will be the most effective and cost-efficient. They do not want to become experts in your field. They want advice from someone they trust.
Offering managed services enables your customers to take full advantage of their hosted services. They can operate more confidently, knowing you are keeping a professional eye on their system performance, security and compliance. In addition, by helping coordinate their multiple applications, you can help ensure they are distributing workloads most efficiently.
- Reasons to Use Managed IT Services in 2016
- The Future of Web and App Hosting: By the Numbers
- Characteristics of an Ideal Cloud or Hosting Provider