It’s estimated that there are over 8 million tech businesses globally, with many thousands of VARs, MSPs, and IT service providers in the UK alone. It’s an exciting market where competition is fierce – but everyone seems to be offering the same thing. Most tech partners are currently majoring in Microsoft 365, and with everyone making the same points there’s a clear overlap between MSPs and VARs. The benefits of having a unique offering are obvious, but how do you actually do it, and what are the differentiation options in an increasingly ‘vanilla’ tech environment?

Why is it difficult for VARs and MSPs to differentiate themselves?

As a ‘New Ways of Working’ solutions provider, we’ve analysed our tech partners and their competitors, and found that over 80% are offering the same basic services. Everyone’s talking about cloud, productivity, collaboration, hybrid working, and cyber security – and the value propositions, buzz words, and benefit outcomes are so similar.

Attempts at differentiation and benefit propositions continually focus on customers’ lack of in-house resources and the reasons for outsourcing elements of IT to their expert Professional Service teams – as though that’s somehow unique in the market.

Messages around the ‘hot topics of hybrid working, collaboration, networking, security and transition to the cloud are everywhere, and it’s so repetitive – talk about boring!

A World of Opportunity

We’re all aware of the need to transition to cloud, and the evolution of cloud services, it’s the number one investment area worldwide for IT departments, and Gartner’s assertion that by 2027, over 50% of enterprises will use industry cloud platforms to accelerate their business initiatives seems childishly obvious.

Of course, transitioning to the cloud presents new operational, security and commercial risks for organisations, as they try to improve efficiency, lower operating costs, and adapt to changing workplaces and practices. And much like cybersecurity, cloud professionals are in high demand and short supply, making it the second most challenging hiring area in the world.

But before we talk about differentiating your business with a new smart working approach, here are 3 things you can do immediately as a starter for ten:

#1 Develop a truly unique brand.

Don’t use terms like ‘we are the most secure’, ‘we offer personalised services’ or ‘we are a Microsoft certified partner’. It’s hardly unique – everybody does it. Go back to the core elements of your organisation. What are you trying to solve for customers? And what really differentiates you from the competitors in your area?

#2 Change your offering

With everyone offering broadly the same services in the tech space, look at your main competition, and talk to your people about what they’re hearing from customers on the front line. Start promoting and talking about incremental services and their advantages, e.g. a part of your service that has been flagged as helpful, and impressive. Focus also on the areas of your portfolio that are in greatest demand, and consider dropping others!

#3 Become a ‘Thought Leader’

People love people. We look up to artists, celebrities, and sports people. They’re experts in their field, because they’re brilliant at what they do. They influence how we feel and we want a bit of their identity. This can work in business too.

If an organisation is constantly talking about the big issues affecting industry, and dealing with thorny and difficult challenges in a positive way, they start to be seen as ‘Thought Leaders’, and experts in their field. They are seen as trusted people who really know their stuff. And guess what – people buy from people they trust! Make sure your colleagues are experts and that they speak about it. People will then want to contact and work with you!

Complacency is the killer & treading water isn’t good enough

Many companies are happy just plodding along, enjoying steady growth or a slight decline, just like their competitors. But as we all know the business world moves quickly and a new start-up can rapidly grow and eat everyone’s lunch – especially if there’s a paradigm shift that many companies have missed, and the established big boys can fall from ‘Hero to Zero’ in record time too.

Complacent organisations are too ready to accept the status quo – and they tend not to dig deep into new trends and emerging opportunities. Smart companies want their clients to have the best solutions and services at all times, and being open to emerging technologies and solutions is the most effective way to do this.

Build on the Success of Microsoft 365 & Teams

Microsoft Teams has been one of the fastest-growing apps ever, but there’s only so much business Teams can generate. And most organisations can’t operate solely with Teams, as specific workplace applications and legacy systems are still massively prevalent in the workplace, and integration and development with these services must be factored in.

The Single Most Effective Step to Differentiation – Workspace 365

In the post covid, ‘hybrid everything’ world, very few propositions have anything unique at all, BUT an increasing number of IT providers are differentiating their proposition by selling Workspace 365. It’s a next-generation platform offering a new way to work through an adaptive employee centric digital workplace.

It automatically adapts to a person’s role and environment by bringing together all applications, information, intranet services, and communications in a single workspace. People make the difference, and Workspace 365 empowers them to achieve their primary tasks, delivering high quality simple experiences, anywhere and on any device.

For IT partners, Workspace 365 drives proposition differentiation and leads to positive incremental opportunities, not as a replacement for services, but as a complimentary addition to them, and it’s integrated into Microsoft Teams – enhancing employee productivity and efficiency.