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Managed Services Providers: Partners, Not Replacements

Technology is advancing is so quickly that it seems like there are not enough qualified tech professionals to go around, creating a growing IT skills gap. Lacking IT personnel can impede day-to-day business operations, overall company goals, and, ultimately, the bottom line. According to a ChannelPro Network article, CompTIA researchers found that eight out of 10 business executives are concerned about the IT skills gaps within their organizations. This skills gap can create heftier workloads and hinder employee satisfaction. In addition, when in-house teams lack key resources — including enough staff members — their abilities to innovate wane. Insufficient resources can also create a pattern of reactivity, forcing in-house teams to put out more fires because they’re unable to take proactive measures with limited time or skills. Plus, having fewer skilled professionals available can make an already expensive and competitive hiring landscape even harder to traverse, putting increasing pressure on today’s tech leaders.

Gaining additional resources

In response, many chief information officers (CIOs) and other IT executives are turning to managed services providers (MSPs) in efforts to bridge the gap. MSPs can alleviate many stresses by identifying areas ripe for improvements, implementing the technology necessary to make those changes, and offering ongoing monitoring and support. However, there is a common misconception that mistakes MSPs as in-house IT staff replacements rather than partners.

In reality, MSPs are often responsible for ensuring day-to-day functionality such as data backup and security. For example, MSPs can help IT executives assess their cloud application readiness and provide strategic support during data migrations, tasks their in-house teams may neither have the time nor appropriate resources for. This can take pressure off in-house teams, enabling them to focus on bigger-picture tasks like meeting strategic project goals, improving user experiences and customer satisfaction, as well as meeting or exceeding business objectives.

MSPs can also augment their partners’ IT and staff setups with shared services, a diverse pool of resources available on an as-needed basis. This empowers tech leaders to scale personnel support and technology resources only when necessary, helping to lower costs while achieving project goals. Just remember: Not all MSPs are created equal, so it’s important to be selective.

Ensuring valuable partnerships

When choosing an MSP, tech decision-makers can often feel pressured to use shrinking costs as key criteria for bringing on MSPs, especially during times of economic downturn, according to the CIO article. It’s important to partner with MSP experts who not only understand their technology but also their clients’ specific industries and businesses.

An effective partnership keeps business — not just technology — at the forefront of all planning. Many seasoned MSPs have existing relationships with vendors, which often means they can secure good rates and fast responses on products and services for their clients; MSPs can also leverage these relationships to renegotiate vendor contracts if necessary.

Over the years, significant demand for MSPs and their services has spurred more strategic partnerships. The MSP’s role has evolved from simply offering services to being a true consultant and business partner to clients. For some tech leaders, an MSP’s technical support and services are enough to help in-house teams bridge the skills gap. Increasingly, however, more IT executives are turning to MSPs for customized experiences and specific expertise as they adapt their strategies to meet changing customer needs. Overall, it’s essential for any business leader planning to work with an MSP to remember that MSPs are not replacements — they’re partners!

At Value Global, we offer industry-specific customized IT solutions for those within the eCommerce, software, and oil and gas industries. If you’re looking to partner with professionals at an MSP who view your successes as their own, contact the experts at Value Global today.
Information Technology, Uncategorized

Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Are Leveraging eCommerce to Their Advantage

In the not-so-distant past many believed brick-and-mortar stores were on their way out and the rise of eCommerce would enable online-only stores to dominate the retail industry. There is no denying the explosive growth, popularity, or benefits of online shopping: Consumers can shop from nearly anywhere, quickly search for products while comparing prices and reviews, and use simple, secure checkout features. With countless options and information online, it was looking as though brick-and-mortar stores couldn’t compete. However, savvy retailers are finding ways to level the playing field against their cyber competition. And one strategy that offers leverage by using a multichannel user experience is omnichannel retailing.

The omnichannel approach

Omnichannel retailing uses both brick-and-mortar stores and online tools to sell products. This approach combines all available retail channel assets and capabilities into a contiguous customer experience. It allows consumers to choose which channels they prefer, whether it’s shopping online, in stores, or a hybrid of both. And to not only stay afloat but also remain competitive, retailers “need to fully embrace a one brand, many channels strategy.” This has the added benefit of providing different points at which retailers can interact, offer incentives, improve user experiences, and customize tools according to ever-changing needs.

The key is to employ a data-driven strategy. Many customers do not shop through a single medium, and omnichannel retailing gives traditional retailers an edge that most online-only stores lack or cannot compete with — a personalized in-store shopping experience for every shopper. Through tactfully collecting and analyzing data, omnichannel retailers can employ highly strategic retailing efforts. Which types of products do customers tend to browse online but buy in stores? Which offers result in the highest conversion rates and through which medium? Those who are 10 steps ahead know what their customers want to buy and where. They understand consumer behaviors and spending patterns. And most importantly, they act on this knowledge.

As growth in online-only sales begins to taper off, brick-and-mortar business owners also have opportunities to capitalize through mobile influencers on social media platforms. Consumers help drive others’ decisions through building brand awareness, offering peer recommendations and reviews, sharing pictures or additional information, among other factors. Through strategic data tracking, retailers can also stay up to date on trends which, in turn, can allow companies to better anticipate and plan for sales efforts in the future. Strategic tactics, though, require constant attention.

Implementation and support

So how can retailers implement this strategy? The key is putting unified systems in place that share the same data while also providing unified customer experiences across all channels. This requires having the right tools and technology in place. Which platforms should they use? What applications support cloud-based point-of-sale systems, manage inventory, track customer preferences, and deliver company messages and offerings? By finding and utilizing the right services provider, retailers can have a better understanding of which platforms to use and what types of support they can — and should — expect.

When partnered with an experienced service provider, company leaders have access to analysts who can help you architect and implement a data-driven omnichannel strategy, ongoing maintenance, and management support. With the right provider, brick-and-mortar retailers can not only be sure they have the right tools in place but can also be assured they are functioning optimally and being properly managed. Brick-and-mortar retail isn’t dead — it’s being disrupted, and those who incorporate a multichannel user experience with a data-driven customized experience for their customers will likely gain an edge.

Value Global offers services for application design, implementation, and data analytics, with channel marketing support to help put you on the fast-track towards improved customer engagement and revenue realization. To learn more about omnichannel support and other services to support your business needs, contact a Value Global expert or visit us online.

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