For channel businesses to grow profitably, deliberate steps must be taken to boost operational efficiency, and automation may play a key part.
One of the topics receiving attention at the recent CompTIA ChannelCon 2018 event was that of operational efficiency. Senior director of industry analysis at CompTIA, Carolyn April, chaired a panel discussion on operational efficiency improvement, saying that "It's not the sexiest topic, but it is so important”.
A recent CompTIA survey of managed service providers (MSPs) and other channel partners revealed various operational pain points. Half of the 450 organizations polled cited pricing pressure from customers or competitors as the top operations issue hurting profitability in the last year, whilst inefficient service delivery and inefficient sales process followed, with 28% and 27% respectively. April mentioned that even MSPs raking in sales could be "leaking margin left and right" due to inefficiency.
It thus bears repeating that to continue to grow, and grow profitably, an organization must take deliberate steps to boost operational efficiency.
One approach to improving efficiency is to put in place management frameworks which emphasize proactivity, versus a reactive approach that hinges on ‘extinguishing fires’. Defining company processes and installing a culture of efficiency plays a big part in improving efficiency. Another way of potentially boosting efficiency is via automation systems and software.
"Even MSPs raking in sales could be leaking margin left and right."
These take previously manual processes conducted by employees and digitalize them, enabling improved levels of business control. Some of the advantages of software and systems automation include:
Reduced time, effort and cost for the various operational processes.
Consistency & Standardization
Due to the accuracy of computers and software, processes can be highly repeatable with no deviation, ensuring high consistency.
The high consistency and standardization of automation eliminates human error and lowers costly mistakes.
Quality of work results as a byproduct of consistency and standardization.
Computers and software can work and run processes far faster and more accurately than any human, thus saving time.
Automated systems enable a high level of visibility due to the ability to provide a business snapshot at literally any point in time.
It’s the new digital world which is continuing to offer up new ways of doing business, where the above benefits are ‘baked in’. The platform business is one such example, using digital technology to connect two services to either enhance the existing services, or create entirely new ones.
IT channel platforms have become hot property in recent times, as intermediaries realize the significant operational efficiency benefits associated with utilizing them. Even vendors are now beginning to insist on them within certain market sectors, as evidenced by Microsoft’s recent CSP direct bill requirements change.
Thus for companies intent on improving operational efficiencies, and by extension growing profitably, digital automation tools should require serious investigation and consideration.