We’re closing in fast on the new year, and we all know what that brings. For many of us, there’s a bittersweet mix of business imperatives, festive joviality and reflection on The Year That Was. It’s a time for closing out books, cleaning up accounts, and wrapping up business so that you can enjoy a well-deserved respite.
It’s also a great time to check in with your small business clients.
Why? To make sure they’re in good shape before the holidays, of course. They’re counting on you, after all, to keep their IT up and running smoothly. Pay them a social call. And while you’re there, here are three fast-moving technology topics you’d do well to drop into casual conversation.
Topic #1: The sun is setting on Windows Server 2003.
How many of your clients still rely on Windows Server 2003? According to HP, the installed base still runs close to 11 million systems. Which is a problem, even for your “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” clients, since Microsoft plans to pull the plug on extended support for the OS in July 2015. And don’t hesitate to remind them that companies looking to Microsoft for custom support after this point can expect to shell out a heart-stopping $200K per year for the privilege!
Of course, since Microsoft has already discontinued Small Business Server, your client’s migration process will inevitably morph into a Medusa of migration projects. Keep your eyes and ears open at every step of the way, for your sake as well as for that of your SMB client.
Topic #2: The cloud has arrived.
As we’ve posted recently, cloud-based options now abound, offering small businesses unprecedented levels of cost-effectiveness, agility, and scalability. Depending on the business, cloud services can simplify both basic and specialized work processes, accelerate ramp-up and growth, and conserve precious capital budgets. But like most of us, small business entrepreneurs typically do a small number of things really well, whereas true success calls for mastery of multiple domains.
Your ability to help decide what to run locally vs. in the cloud can be vital for both their success and yours. And although the cloud market has matured significantly, and security and privacy risks are much more manageable than before, you can still play a key role to make sure your clients apply security-oriented best practices to drive the risk of data breaches to nil. Speaking of which….
Topic #3: Security is still a big, hairy deal.
By the way, you may not even get to the cloud before you’re pulled into a heated conversation about security. Security issues ranked #2 among the top technology concerns facing small businesses last year, according to research conducted by the National Small Business Association, so be prepared to listen. Don’t forget that premises-based threats are nearly as common and destructive as those borne on the cloud. Look broadly for ways to secure your clients’ operations through your best-practices expertise, products and services.
So call on your clients in the spirit of holiday cheer. Drop by just because you’re in the neighborhood. Chat them up on these issues, and always be prepared to take an impromptu meeting. Once you do, you’ll be fully engaged with your client, exactly where you want to be as a solution service provider.
Assert your technical know-how, but remember: you’re a business partner first and foremost, always ready with a sympathetic ear. Be holistic! As an MSP, you offer the valuable ability to leverage your entire client base to drive success by each individual client.
Is there any better way to ring in the New Year than by closing new business?