Friday, August 15, 2014

Managed Services Operations Manual - Now On Sale

On Sale - Now


Big Sale. Amazing Sale.

You're going to be sad if you miss it sale:

Managed Services Operations Manual: Standard Operating Procedures for Computer Consultants and Managed Service Providers


Note: This product is due to be released on September 1, 2014. Order now to get the amazing introductory price. The normal bundle of four books will be $279.95.

This is the super early-bird pre-release price. 
The price WILL go up September 1st when these books are released.

August Price ONLY $199 for the set of four books.


ACT NOW!



A Four-Volume Set

by Karl W. Palachuk

Who needs Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)? Everyone!

When you document your processes and procedures, you design a way for your company to have repeatable success. And as you fine-tune those processes and procedures, you become more successful, more efficient, and more profitable.
This is a massive 1,300-page, four-volume set of books on Standard Operating Procedures for Technology Consultants. Topics in the 4-book set include:
- Getting Started
- Finances
- Sales Marketing
- Client Management
- Employees and H.R.
- Company-wide Policies
- Technical Support Policies and Procedures
- Practical Examples
(Monthly Maintenance, Backup and Disaster Recovery, and more)

Almost every consultant we talk to or coach has the same issues: They need better procedures. They need better processes. They are too busy to create this stuff from scratch. Key pieces of knowledge are in one person's head (often the owner). That ties the owner to the company and limits growth. It also makes the owner the choke-point for everything in the organization.
This four-book set will cover everything you need to set up, run, and fine-tune a great consulting business.
The four volumes are:

- Vol. 1 - Front Office Mastery: SOPs for Office Management, Finances, Administration, and Running Your Company More Efficiently

- Vol. 2 - Employees and Internal Processes: SOPs for Hiring, Employee Evaluations, Team Management, and More

- Vol. 3 - Running the Service Department: SOPs for Managing Technicians, Daily Operations, Service Boards, and Scheduling

- Vol. 4 - Support and Service Delivery: SOPs for Client Relationships, Service Delivery, Scheduled Maintenance, and All about Backups


Save Now:
Order Now


See all the details - and table of contents - at http://sop4smb.com.

  • Four books
  • Over 1,300 pages
  • Plus downloadable white papers, checklists, and Excel spreadsheets
This is a truly comprehensive guide to Managed Services, Standard Operating Procedures, and best practices.

Don't miss out!

The price goes up when it's available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and everyone else.


-- Thank you for your support.




SOP: Your Finance System - QuickBooks or Something Else?

In small business, the most popular financial tool is QuickBooks. They may not be your favorite tool, but chances are very good that you are using them. QuickBooks integrates with just about everything and is "the standard" for small business finance. See www.quickbooks.intuit.com.

You may be using FreshBooks (www.freshbooks.com), Business Works (http://na.sage.com/us/sage-businessworks), or some other package. In this book series we're going to refer primarily to QuickBooks since it has such a commanding market share (about 90%).

The most important consideration when you choose a financial tool is its integration with your RMM and PSA - and to a lesser extent your quoting and CRM tools. Ideally, it will integrate with all of these. What does that mean?

Integration

Integration means that APIs (application programming interfaces) are used to send data back and forth between various software packages or services. For example, you should manage your managed services contracts in your PSA. But when you send out invoices, they will automatically be entered into QuickBooks so that both tools (PSA and QB) are in synch.

Here are some of the items that you should synchronize with your financial tool:
- Clients
o Contracts
o Billing
o Standard labor rates, after-hours labor rates, etc.
- Employees
o Employee Time / Payroll
- Project finances
- CRM Quotes
- CRM Sales
- RMM agents deployed
- All other agents deployed (anti-virus, spam filtering, mobile devices, printers, etc.)
- Anything you need to pay for that needs tracking
- Anything you need to charge for that needs tracking

When a new product or services comes on the market, you will frequently here the question, "Does it integrate with the PSA?" or "Does it integrate with QuickBooks?"

Those questions really have to do with automated tracking and automated billing. If the new product has licensing, I want that licensing to be measured and invoice through my PSA and QuickBooks. The more automatic the better.

Non-Integration

Having said all that, there are lots of people who never fully integrate QuickBooks with their other systems. This is particularly true for those with very low volume sales.

All it means when you are not integrated is that you need to track everything in the PSA and RMM and then fill out Excel spreadsheets to report all those things separately. In Volume One, Chapter Twenty we discussed the Managed Services Grid. You will want to keep a grid like this whether you integrate QuickBooks or not.

I you don't integrate, you will need to generate invoice in QuickBooks that match the invoice produced by your PSA. At low volume, this is not a significant amount of labor.

You may also choose to sell products and service without integrating with the PSA or Quoting tool. Again, at low volume this may be easier. But when volume goes up, you'll need to integrate at some point.

Reports
The great promise of PSAs has always been reporting. Because you have essentially your entire business connected to that tool, you should be able to get some amazing information out of it. This has been the most disappointing part of the PSA experience for most users. None of them has great reporting. In fact, there are businesses that exist solely to help you get usable information from you PSA.

QuickBooks, however, has some extremely good reporting. It's all financial, of course, but it's exactly what you need. You have to be responsible for entering the data correctly. But once you do that, the reports you can generate are an excellent snapshot of your business from various angles (sales, profit, EBITDA, labor, etc.).

:-)

Friday, August 08, 2014

SOP: Your RMM/Monitoring System


If a PSA is the tool you use to run you managed service business, the RMM - Remote Monitoring and Management - tool is what you use to deliver your managed services. While there are three primary PSA vendors, there are at least a dozen "primary" RMM vendors.

The primary vendors are probably GFI Max, Continuum, Kaseya, and LabTech. As it happens, I have used all of these tools. Each has a different business model and pricing model. As of this writing, I am a GFI Max reseller, so take that as full disclosure.

The most important things that any RMM tool must do for you are:
- Monitor computer systems (and report problems)
- Apply patches, primarily security patches
- Provide remote access to client computers

Your RMM tool basically allows you to "automatically" manage thousands of machines instead of the hundreds you might be able to manage manually. When we look at our Monthly Maintenance routine (see Volume Four in the about-to-be-released SOP series), we see all kinds of monitoring that we used to do once per month. A great example is free disc space. Now, with an RMM tool, we measure that every second of every day, all month long. Instead of once a month, it is monitored continuously.

More importantly, we can monitor things like CPU usage, security failures, unexpected reboots, and failed services. Those things can be immediate threats to a business' uptime.

A good RMM system will have a dashboard that lets you see the health of all of your client's computers at the same time. Red lights, yellow lights, and green lights. An array that lets you know whether things are working smoothly.

In finer detail, an RMM will monitor millions of small things (really). These include tasks, services, patches, anti-virus, backups, email, web activity, attached devices, event logs, and lots more. And these happen all the time, in real time, across all client computers, devices, and telephones.


Choose an RMM

Some people would argue that one RMM is pretty much the same as another. That might be true when you have ten computers to monitor. But when you have a thousand, or ten thousand machines, then you need something that's very robust, easy to configure, and that you can train your employees on.

My personal preference is for a system that allows me to pay for just what I use, not buy 100 or 1,000 licenses at a time.

All good RMM solutions have a remote control system built in. It might be a brand name you've heard of, such as VNC or Team Viewer, or it might be proprietary for the RMM software.

In either case, you will find yourself using it a lot. In fact, many people avoid buying an RMM tool because they have a preferred remote control agent and use Microsoft's automated patch management. That can take you a long ways, but it really is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to RMM tools.

Other key features that you need are real time chat or video chat while working with a client, and real time integration with the PSA tool. What does that mean?

There are two primary integrations you should look for. First, there are real time alerts. When a server reboots unexpectedly, your RMM tool should open a ticket in your PSA so that you can investigate. You should literally know about it before the client does.

Second, your RMM should integrate into your PSA. It should report the number of licenses in use. It should send information that can be used in a monthly or quarterly health report.

The first priority of you RMM is patch management. The second priority is remote control. The third priority is integration with the PSA.

If you're looking at an RMM tool, it should do an excellent job of these three things. Period. If it doesn't, go find another tool.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Trust in Business Part 2: Maintaining and Transferring Trust

In Part I - http://blog.smallbizthoughts.com/2014/07/trust-in-business-part-i.html - I introduced the four stages in a trust relationship: Meet, Vet, Establish, and Maintain. That articles covers the first three stages, all of which are about setting up the trust relationship.

Now let's look at maintaining and transferring trust.


Trusting Your Team


It actually takes a lot of work to "set up" a trusting relationship. You have to go through several cycles of making promises and then keeping them. You need to set expectations and then deliver. And when you over-deliver, you build even more trust.

One of the reasons that big corporations are essentially only sales operations is that there are very few one-on-one relationships with clients. Small businesses have it easier in that regard. All client relationships start with a one or two people from each company trying to work together. Trust grows from there.

If your company has a number of technicians or engineers that will service clients, you need to introduce them properly. This is the great promise of having employees: They will do a lot of the work. But you have to be careful how you "hand off" the client. You need to introduce the new employee. You need to literally walk into the client's office together and introduce them. Then you need to look into the client's eyes and tell them that the new tech is really good and will do a great job.

It's always bad form to tell a small business client that you are going to send over someone they've never met before.

Small business clients want to know who they're working with. You have to build a LOT of trust before you can send a stranger to take care of a client relationship just because he's wearing your company shirt.

What you're doing with employees is delegating trust.

Delegating means that they are working on your behalf. In the world of trust, that means that the employee is using YOUR trust equity to continue and manage the relationship. If the employee doesn't perform, you lose some of that trust equity. That's the danger.

On the up-side: When an employee does a great job and really impresses the client, three things happen. First, they begin to build their own trust relationship. Second, they help you maintain your trust relationship with the client. After all, you said this was a good tech and you delivered. Third, some trust equity is transferred from your personally to your company or brand.

Branding is all about expectations. Consistency in performance goes a long ways - even if it's delivered by someone other than you.


Joining the Client's Team


If you work at it long enough, you will be considered part of the client's team. That means that you will be invited to sit in on important decisions. Your input will be sought and your advice taken seriously.

It's hard for you to force that stage of the relationship. Holding regular roadmap meetings will help a lot. If you invite yourself in and then avoid sales talk during the roadmap meetings, the client will see you promise to be strategic and then follow through on that. Eventually, they will invite you it and trust you to keep it strategic.

The more involvement you have and the more "layers" of connection with the client, the harder it is to delegate trust. Even if the client completely trusts your team for technical support, that doesn't guarantee trust with regard to strategy and planning.

In addition, gaining the trust of your primary contact is not the same as gaining the trust of the owner or the majority of end users. Everyone needs to have experiences that allow trust to grow. Here and there you can delegate trust up and down the org chart. But most of the time, most of the people will need to have their own experiences that allow trust to emerge for them.


The Ultimate Delegation of Trust: Selling Your Business


I have quite a bit of personal experience with this one. I have worked with companies that have been bought and sold. I have helped companies buy and sell pieces of themselves. And I have been involved in selling my own business.

There are two primary kinds of trust that need to be conferred when you sell a business: Personal trust and service delivery trust. If you have personal relationships with your clients, they are far more likely to stay with the company after it has been sold. But that means YOU might have to stay around for awhile as well.

When KPEnterprises transitioned to America's Tech Support several years ago, we took two huge steps to pass along trust and maintain clients. First, Mike and I wrote a letter to clients and described what was happening. We assured them that we were going to sit in the same seats, in the same offices, and do the same things we always did. The only difference was that Mike was going to be the owner and I was going to be the senior engineer.

Second, we set up meetings with the clients who had personal relationships with me. That was about 90% of the clients who had been with us for two or more years. Mike and I both met with them. We basically made the same promises that were in the letter. But we looked them in the eye and assured them that everything was going to be great. They all knew Mike. Now he looked them in the eye and said the words "I'll take care of your business."

That's huge.

Time and again I've seen businesses go downhill after being sold. They lose clients who have with the company for five, ten, or fifteen years. Personally, I think this almost always do to mis-handling the trust part of the relationship. Either the buyer and seller did not manage the hand-off properly, or the buyer failed to focus on building his own trust equity.

It is very common that a business sale includes a requirement that the old owner stick around for some period of time. The excuse given is stability. But, really, it's the stability of the trust relationships more than anything else. Very often, a piece of the sale price is tied to continued revenue from existing clients. If they all leave, the seller receives less money. So he sticks around to maximize his return.

The other big failure is the failure to maintain the trust that has been built into service delivery. The only way the new owner can build and maintain his own trust equity is through performance. He has to deliver the kind of tech support the clients are used to. He has to build the relationship on his own, because the delegated trust only lasts so long. As it fades, the new trust relationship needs to grow in its place.

I heard a new owner say one time that he didn't want personalities to be part of the equation. He had contracts with clients. He would deliver services. They would pay their bills. It should be that simple.

Maybe. But it's not that simple.

If your business is built on service with no relationships, that means no trust. You are a stranger. And if you stay a stranger, then that client is never "your" client. They are just "a" client and you are just "a" vendor.

Clients can always give their money to strangers who make better promises.

What strangers can't do is to build instant rapport and instant trust.

:-)

Monday, August 04, 2014

SMB Nation Fall Conference - Details and Registration

Got some memos from the folks at SMB Nation. The big Fall event is in full swing. Registration is open. And the good hotel rates are good through August 28th. The primary site for the conference is http://fall2014.smbnation.com/.

The primary site for the pre-day event is http://www.smbpreday.com/.

Here's the info:

- - - - -

Details:

SMB Nation 2014 Fall

Friday, September 26, 2014
through
Sunday, September 28, 2014

Microsoft Conference Center
16156-16298 NE 36th St
Building 33
Redmond , Washington 98052

SMB Nation 2014 Fall Conference

In this rapidly changing industry, the SMB Nation Fall Conference provides the annual meeting place for the Small and Medium Business IT consultant to connect professionals such as yourself with the best providers, advisors, and peers the industry has to offer. With this being the conference’s 12th year, it is the place to be to do your business, seek advice, and learn new technologies in the industry, and most importantly get face-to-face networking time that can be so difficult today

SMB Nation 2014 Fall Conference has so many reasons to attend:

The content. The relationships.  Time with greatest technology minds around.

We are excited to announce that this year’s conference is focused on Office 365, as well as growing your business with new opportunities.   Below, you can see the sessions so you can get an even better idea of what the SMB Nation 2014 Conference will do for you. Of course, the awesome sessions are reason enough to attend, but don’t forget about the hallway networking, exhibit hall, and incredible speakers and more all add to the experience.

Session Information:

  • Profit Beyond O365
  • Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus: Expanding Your Deployment Skills
  • Old School: On-Prem Server-Side Live Demo


To see all of the sessions offered, please visit:  fall2014.smbnation.com/sessions
Be sure to attend and get your questions answered, learn something new, meet some experts and your peers by attending the SMB Nation 2014 Fall Conference.

Have you registered?  If not … seriously, don't wait any longer.  Early bird pricing is in effect now through August 29th, 2014.

If you are an Alumni, or you're looking for a good deal, please contact us at: ednas@smbnation.com for a registration code!

If you have any questions, or if you need assistance with registration, please give us a call at 206.201.2943 and ask for Edna.

- - - - -

My SMB Preday event - my 10th Annual SMB Preday event - will be September 25th in Redmond. This will be an awesome event whether you attend live or get the recordings. Details at www.smbpreday.com.

Attend one or both - and I'll see YOU in Redmond next month!
:-)

Friday, August 01, 2014

SOP: Your PSA/Ticketing System

In Volume Two, Section II of the new books on SOPs, we'll look at some important tools you need for running your company. The one tool most specifically designed to help you build a technology consulting business (computer consulting, managed services, tech support, etc.) is a PSA - Professional Services Automation tool.

A PSA is program (or service) for keeping track of all information related to your consulting service. This includes most or all of the following:
- Clients
 - - Client Contacts
 - - Client Technology Configurations
- Contracts
- Billing
- Employees
 - - Employee Time / Payroll
 - - Internal Tasks
- Service Requests / Service Tickets / Cases
- Projects
- Reporting
- Accounting
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) / Sales

The Service Board is a subset of the PSA. When you look through the SOP series you'll find excruciating detail about all the things you should be doing inside your PSA. As you can guess from the list above, this includes:
- Tracking your employees
- . . . and all their activities
- . . . and their billable time (and non-billable time)
- Tracking your clients
- . . . and all your interactions with them
- . . . and all their technology/computer systems
- Tracking all the work you need to do
- . . . internally and externally
- Tracking all your contracts
- Tracking all your sales
- Connecting to all the other tools and services you use to run your business
- Reporting all of the above

Choosing Your PSA

No matter how large or small your consulting business is, you should have a system for tracking all this stuff. A PSA designed for your business is a great investment.

The three leading brands in our line of business are:
- Autotask (www.autotask.com)
- ConnectWise (www.connectwise.com)
- TigerPaw (www.tigerpawsoftware.com)

I encourage you to check them all out and determine which is best for your company. You should also talk to other IT professionals and see what they are using.

There are dozens - maybe hundreds - of other tools that claim to help you run your consulting business. But my experience is that all of the others are lack some very significant features. They might be excellent at managing the help desk, but don't integrate with QuickBooks. Or they are primarily a CRM (customer relationship management) tool and don't integrate contract management or employee time tracking.

When you get to the next two books in this series you'll see that we use the PSA for almost every aspect of running the IT service business.

And by the way, don't worry about making a mistake. Your business will be much better off as soon as you invest in any PSA and begin using it to run your business! You can change brands. I have.

:-)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Trust In Business - Part I

Did you ever stop to think about how much we rely on trust in business? It's so ingrained into our decision making that we take it for granted. You've heard it a thousand times: We do business with people we know, like, and trust. Take trust out of that equation and you really change the result. After all, we can get to know just about anybody - especially if they're likeable.

There are four stages in a trust relationship: Meet, Vet, Establish, and Maintain.

We meet lots of people. Those of us who attend marketing groups, tip exchange groups, chamber meetings, and service organizations might meet a hundred new people in a month. And maybe a thousand people we've met before. We obviously do business with very few of them. Once we think that we might do business with someone, a vetting process has to take place.

Some vetting is automatic - even unconscious. If we don't like the way someone talks, looks, stands, or presents their business then they are out of the running without any real consideration. Once we decide to consider someone, a more formal vetting process begins. It might be simple or complex. It could be as simple as their working habits: Did they email a response within an hour of your request? Or it might be very formal with multiple interviews.

In very small business, it is common that clients choose vendors without a formal selection process. In other words, there's no real competition. A company is considered and hired (or not hired). As a result, most of the vetting takes place in a single meeting. When the selection process is more formal, the vetting takes place across several meetings with different people.

Once vetted, we have to establish the relationship. Vetting sets up the relationship. In the "establishment" stage we have proof that the decision was correct and that the partner is delivering goods and services as expected. You might consider this the final piece of the vetting process, but it really is separate.

In the establishment stage, the client relaxes and feels good that the decision was correct. this is a critical element in the relationship. At this point the long-term relationship begins.

One of the most important policies you can have is a "first job" policy that governs how you manage your first job for a client. The first job proves the client was right in choosing you, demonstrates your competence in an important task, and allows you to show off the skills and processes that will make you a good business partner. (For an example of this, see the blog post The First Client Visit.)

The final stage is maintenance. As you move into the execution of your partnership, you have to do more than perform excellent work. You also need to pay attention to maintaining the relationship. You can do an excellent job - technically - and still lose the trust of the client. This is because the trust component has to do with the personal relationship and not the technical execution.

Trust elevates your relationship from "outsider" to "insider" status. If you want to be part of the team - to be the outsourced CIO - then you need to establish and maintain trust. That means you need to constantly work on the personal side of the relationship.


Trust and Integrity

Note that trust, in this context, is not a moral evaluation. This is not an evaluation of whether you are "trustworthy" on the moral side. This trust has to do with Integrity: Do you follow through and perform as advertised?

Integrity means to be whole and complete. When you act with integrity, all the parts work together. In this sense, a client can trust you because the whole package works together. If you say that you'll take care of something, you do. If you say you will remove their burden, you do.

You lack integrity when the trusting piece doesn't fit with the action piece.


Lock in the Relationship

Every successful business owner is locked into a series of relationships that have a powerful effect on the business. Once we decide to grow the business beyond what one person can do, we must rely on the talents and integrity of others. Here's what that means in terms of trust:

Once a business owner picks a team of people to trust, he's locked in and needs to rely on his team for his success. The payoff of the vetting process is a team you can rely on. The danger is that you've chosen the wrong team. That's why all members of the team need to keep working on the trust component. The maintenance stage can last for decades . . . if you put effort into maintaining the relationship.

Some business owners get stuck at the point where they need to rely on a team for their success. You've seen the most common sign of this: The inability to delegate. This one simple element is probably the biggest roadblock to success for small business owners. Inability to delegate boils down to lack of trust. You either don't trust the people personally, you don't trust their technical ability, or you don't trust their commitment to your success.

In my personal experience, I failed to grow my business beyond a certain point for about five years because I didn't trust that anyone could do it as well as me. Part of this had to do with technical ability and part of it had to do with client relationships. Eventually I decided that I was looking at the problem wrong. I divided my fears and conquered them.

On the technical side I realized that I could hire someone to do some of the work and not all of the work. I didn't need every technician to be a superstar. I could find good techs and grow them into great techs. On the client relationship side I decided that I can't turn over that job very easily or very quickly. So I kept the client relationship job and handed off technical work.

Eventually, I was able to find just the right people who could be trusted to tend to the client relationships. Only then did I turn over that piece of the business.

Trust is difficult to transfer. It may actually be impossible to transfer. You can help someone grow trust and build trust with a client. But the client will always judge that person based on their ability to follow through and fulfill the promises made.

Next time we'll talk more about trust maintenance and transferring trust.

Comments Welcome.

:-)

Register Today!
SMB Preday 2014

Karl's 10th Annual SMB Preday Show

Killer Combo: SOPs And Project Management

A 4-Hour Hands-On Event! 

September 25, 2014
1-5 PM
Redmond, WA

All-New Workshop 

This year’s pre-day event will be a four-hour Jam-Packed event.

Featuring


  • Jenifer Novak Landers - Conceptual Selling: How to Sell Something Your Clients Can't See
  • Karl W. Palachuk - Build Your Revenue with Standard Operating Procedures
  • Karl W. Palachuk - Design and Execute Perfect, Profitable Projects

Super Early Bird Registration: First Two attendees only $99 !!!

Plus all content will be provided to registrants whether you actually attend or not. Includes audio recording, slides, handouts, and workbook.

Find out more at www.smbpreday.com


Monday, July 14, 2014

Is This Really a Mobile-First Cloud-First World?

Last week ended with a big, long memo from Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, filling the news gap of Summer immediately before Microsoft's big WorldWide Partner Conference. The conference kicks off today.

I wish I was there, but Microsoft's WPC doesn't really offer much for small business partners. No matter what else is said or done, the company focuses on its two primary sources of revenue: Games/Home Entertainment and enterprise-level software deployment. It's a great series of parties. But actual, useful, business-related discussions that will help SMB consultants make more money? Not on the agenda.

If you really want to read the 3,100+ email from Mr. Nadella, go to http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/ceo/index.html - but that's obviously not a permalink, so go there fast.

What you'll find is a marketing document with approximately zero personal message and lots of platitudes. The most visible messages are:

1) "At our core, Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more."

and

2) Xbox is going to stay around. It makes a lot of money.

Several pundits have made a point of saying that Steve Ballmer's era of "devices and services" is officially coming to an end with the new emphasis on "productivity and platform." I think this is 100% shift in marketing and is not a slap at Ballmer in any way. It's just a new campaign for a new year.

The other news item mentioned by all the pundits is that the Nokia acquisition is now complete and the new Microsoft has 127,000 employees. That's too many people and everyone's waiting to see where jobs will be cut. This speculation is probably FAR more interesting to Microsoft employees than anyone else.

Nadella did promise that he would say more about the company's core focus when Microsoft reports fourth quarter earnings on July 22.


Mobile-First Cloud-First World?


Let's get back to the new marketing mantra. Mobile-First Cloud-First World.

From the first time I heard that, it just sounded wrong. Do you live in a mobile-first world? Do your clients? Does Microsoft (or Apple or Google)?

I don't think so.

Mobile is really important. REALLY important. Same with Cloud. Really important.

But look at where you make money. Look at your clients. Look at the number of devices you support and where they spend the most money for hardware, software, and support. It's on desktops, servers, and network equipment. I don't care whether a client has five employees or five hundred, they are more likely to spend more money on printers in a year than on phones.

Tablets are coming on strong. But for specialty applications. They will never replace the vast majority of cubicle-dwelling, desktop computer-using workers. They will create new jobs and make new services possible. But the average client with 30 employees is still going to buy 30 desktop computers. Plus tablets. Plus some laptops.

Remember: Outside of the partners/owners, most employees don't get a work cell phone. Or a tablet. So the corporate world is going to continue to be PC-based.

If you download the Excel spreadsheet with Microsoft's most recent numbers on segment revenue ( at http://www.microsoft.com/Investor/EarningsAndFinancials/Earnings/SegmentResults/S1/fy14/q3/Performance.aspx), you'll see that Commercial Licensing represents 49% of all revenue for the nine months ending March 2014. Add commercial "other" into the mix and you've got 57% of all revenue. I assume the last three months will look about the same.

That 57% of revenue also represents 67% of all profit.

Obviously Microsoft enjoys growth in the "mobile" and "cloud" revenue as they push people to Office 365.

But when I look at the big picture, I still don't see an actual direction form Mr. Nadella or Microsoft. Mobile First doesn't really ring true. Cloud first isn't true for most people. I recognize them. They're market forces. But I also know where the money is.

So I wish my friends at Microsoft the best of luck in the coming job cuts. And I will advise my coaching clients to keep mobile and cloud in the mix. But I'll keep my business going with open licensing and hardware sales.

Because most technology is not mobile and most technology is not cloud.

:-)

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Zynstra Announces $8.4 Million Series B Funding

I got a nice little press release from my friends at Zynstra this morning.

They've got a big new round of funding "to support continued growth, innovation and entry into North America."

So in case you're wondering whether they're planning to stick around, this should be a very good sign.

Here's the release:
- - - - -

BATH, United Kingdom - 9th July 2014 - Zynstra, the pioneer in cloud managed server appliances for small and medium sized businesses (SMB's), today announces the completion of an $8.4 million Series B funding round. This brings the total amount raised in its first year since public launch to just over $12.5 million. The financing was led by Octopus Investments, with additional investors including: Richard Brennan, former EVP Global Marketing at Orange Group, Tom Vari, former CIO of Cable at Rogers Communications Inc. and Jon Craton, Zynstra's Chairman and former founder and CEO of Cramer.

The company will use the funds to continue to develop a growing UK channel presence, further invest in product innovation, and support entry into the North American market.

Zynstra launched its hybrid cloud solution in July 2013 and earlier this year won 'most innovative product for SMB' at the 2014 UK Cloud Awards. Its product suite redresses the balance between SMBs and larger enterprise IT. The company has already announced three products this year to supplement its hybrid cloud portfolio; O365 Connect, Education and SMB IT appliances, all designed to deliver the perfect blend of on-premise and cloud IT services, and with the economics typically associated with the public cloud.

"When we started developing our initial offering three years ago, we knew we had a great solution. Since then the market has moved relentlessly in our direction, embracing a hybrid approach to IT," said Zynstra co-founder and CEO Nick East. "Our first year since publically launching has seen strong growth in our customer base, and in the number of significant partnerships signed.  

"Businesses are reconsidering the way they purchase technology - seeking a significantly lower administrative burden, greater flexibility and a predictable opex payment model.  At the same time, we are facing one of the largest server infrastructure refreshes of recent times when the Windows Server 2003 platform reaches the end of support in July 2015.  It's a compelling time to consider refreshing an IT estate, and a hybrid approach is becoming the new norm. We anticipate even faster growth over the next 12 months as a result."

MADE.com, the bespoke and designer furniture company, became a Zynstra customer earlier this year. "We're growing fast, both in the UK and overseas, so we needed an office IT solution that is easy and supports our expansion plans," said Jonathan Howell, CTO at made.com. "Zynstra has helped us to achieve consistency internally and free up our time to work on other more strategic projects."

Commenting on the investment, Frederic Lardieg, a member of the Ventures team at Octopus Investments, said: "From the outset it was clear that the experienced team at Zynstra had a really exciting product. What we've seen proves that this really is the right time for this technology in the SMB market. The UK has seen fantastic development and we're confident that the team will bring the same success to North America when they launch in that market. We're delighted to offer our continued investment and support to Zynstra."

ENDS


About Zynstra
Zynstra is a provider of hybrid cloud solutions that enable SMEs to benefit from the security and performance of local IT combined with the economics and ease of the cloud. Headquartered in Bath, UK, Zynstra has developed patent-pending technology that gives SMEs hassle-free, enterprise-level IT with built-in reliability they can afford.

http://www.zynstra.com


About Octopus Investments
Octopus is a venture capital investor who backs talented people with the potential to build big businesses. Our focus is on identifying entrepreneurs and fast growth companies that can scale explosively to create, transform or dominate an industry. The Ventures team has a proven track record of helping build exceptional global businesses, including Zoopla Property Group, Secret Escapes, SwiftKey, graze.com and YPlan.

The Ventures team is part of Octopus Investments, one of the UK's fastest growing investment management companies specialising in smaller company investing, with more than £3.5 billion of assets under management.

http://www.octopusinvestments.com

Media contacts:

Sinead O'Connor
Atomic PR for Zynstra
+44 (0)20 7478 7801
zynstra@atomicpr.com

Cordelia Meacher
FieldHouse Associates for Octopus
+44 (0) 7961 311080
octopus@fieldhouseassociates.com

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Beerfest at WPC! - July 13th

Info from Harry B's Big Beerfest in Washington, DC - right before SMB Nation:

(I won't be there, so I'll need a designated drinker.)

Beerfest at WPC!

SMB Nation’s proud tradition of hosting a beerfest reception continues at the upcoming Microsoft Worldwide Partner (WPC) conference in Washington DC. The reception, sponsored by Zynstra and eFolder, is Sunday, July 13th from 7:30pm – 9:30pm.

Why attend?

Simply stated – it’s to drive community in a casual environment. SMB IT Pros from all walks of life can share and collaborate. It’s been a very popular format.

Who should attend?

Anyone with an interest in SMB technology and solutions. You CAN ATTEND even if you are not attending the full WPC conference. This is your chance to “touch” WPC from the outside and gather with your friends.

More information: https://clicktoattend.microsoft.com/en-us/Pages/EventDetails.aspx?EventID=193051

Call SMB Nation at 206-201-2943 with any questions.
:-)