Automate to Improve Your Service Maintenance Efficiency

claire-millsap

 

By Claire Millsap


Improving efficiency through automation—at MMI we live and breathe to help channel partners capture more service maintenance renewals and boost revenue. What sets us apart? We don’t hide our secret ingredients—we know what’s important with service maintenance tracking, quoting and renewals is great technology to make all the difference.

Our ADDvantage+ and ONEview automation tools simply are the best on the market.

If I could bring you into one of our all-hands-on-deck strategy and planning sessions, you’d hear one constant that we at MMI hang our hats on: The key to sending your maintenance sales totals skyward is a reliable, fool-proof, automated system to track, alert, quote and follow through on renewals.

We call it improving efficiency through automation.

Let’s get right to the bottom line—as a channel partner selling service maintenance, how does automation benefit you? Let’s start with more renewals, more sales and a reliable system that delivers a source of recurring revenue.

To build this business model for recurring service maintenance sales, our foundation is MMI’s ONEview asset management software portal–our flagship product–an elegant, sophisticated technology to track all of your customers’ hardware and software assets and associated maintenance and services.

Add in ADDvantage+, our part number maintenance technology and the complement component to ONEview, and you have a complete system to proactively notify and quote impending maintenance renewals, with part numbers, pricing and service description information.

Proactive quotes
Let’s talk about how proactive quotes can increase your maintenance renewals. It’s no secret that tracking multiple renewal dates manually by spreadsheet (or notes on paper napkins) to provide an updated quote not only is labor intensive, it’s the least efficient way to run the service part of your business.

ADDvantage+ automation supplies you with the mechanism to notify you and your customer on upcoming renewals and to proactively provide quotes equipped with your branded messaging. The system does the work, not you.

For those of you who live by the details, ADDvantage+ automates a 10-step process that results in you winning renewals and gaining sales:

  1. Manufacturer sends renewal data to MMI
  2. MMI cleans and processes data to import
  3. Renewal data load to ADDvantage
  4. Notifications send to reseller to qualify renewal opportunity
  5. Reseller has option to send notification to end customer
  6. Notification and quote send to end-user
  7. Customer accepts or rejects quote
  8. Reseller completes sale and submits purchase order
  9. Distributor completes order and submits for registration

Strengthen your marketing
Automating the renewals process also brings you an additional marketing resource that can strengthen your relationship with your end customer. For example, with ADDvantage+ automation, you contact your customer 90 days out from the renewal date, and then at 30-day intervals through one month past the point of renewal.

In addition, by alerting your customers of upcoming warranty renewals through the quoting process, you may spark new hardware and/or software sales in a fresh cycle, which, of course, not only translates to new business for you but also builds trust and loyalty.

Finally, because automating renewals gives your sales people visibility into your customers’ hardware and software environments, they can leverage that data to help develop an overall account strategy with your customers, positioning you as a true trusted advisor to your clients.

As you can see, ADDvantage+ and ONEview together improve all aspects of your business efficiency through automation.

To learn more about our ADDvantage+ suite and how to increase revenue and reduce costs through proactive quoting and notifications, Click here.

3 Reasons to Automate Your Maintenance Renewals

claire-millsap

By Claire Millsap



In today’s market, businesses are looking to do more with less. And although IT hardware and software maintenance still retains much of its profitability, companies are still looking for better, smarter ways to build this crucial annuity pipeline. So how can you more efficiently tackle your renewals, without compromising customer satisfaction or potential revenue? Below are 3 reasons you should consider automation:

1) Increase revenue and increase customer satisfaction

Because automation allows you to touch more of your customers, it is assumed that you will increase your bottom line. However you may be surprised at where those increases will come from. Not all maintenance renewal notifications lead to increased maintenance revenue. Many resellers see increase in net new hardware and software sales due to the notification of machines coming off warranty. Also, end user customers see increased value from resellers who have invested in automation, which leads to increased customer satisfaction.

2) Connecting with more of your account base

Most companies fall victim to the 80-20 rule. Because 80% of your business is driven by 20% of your top customers, many resellers lose site of the revenue connected to the majority of their account base. Also with reduced headcount and less feet on the street, how do you free up your sales teams to work on the higher profile accounts and strategic opportunities. Automating your maintenance renewals allows you to easily touch and market to 100% of your account base. This in turn increases revenue without increasing your effort or headcount. Many software solutions today allow for customization of the messaging associated with automated renewal notices.

3) Free up your administrative staff to focus on strategic opportunities

Not only does automation help reach more of your customers, it takes time off the plate of your valuable resources back at home base. Your administrative and inside sales staff may be spending too much time researching and quoting small renewals and not focusing on driving the strategic deals that your sales teams are working on. This constant churn can cause your inside teams additional stress and wasted cycles.Automation decreases cost.

When looking at ways to bring increased visibility to your organization, increase customer satisfaction, increase revenue and decreased cost of sales, remember to think outside the box and look at ways to automate some of your key functions.

Free Trial for MMI’s Impressive ONEview Asset Management Software Portal

claire-millsap

 

By Claire Millsap

We’re very excited about a special offer we’re introducing this summer—our first ever free trial for MMI’s impressive ONEview asset management software portal.

In the upcoming weeks we will kick off a new marketing campaign introducing our new “try and buy“ offer. Don’t miss this news!

MMI will offer a free 60-day licenses for channel partners and distributors to evaluate ONEview, our straightforward and sophisticated SaaS application to track hardware and software assets, and associated maintenance and services. When combined with our ADDvantage+ part number maintenance suite, ONEview gives you a complete system to proactively notify and quote upcoming maintenance renewals, with part numbers, pricing, and service description information.

Because we believe we have the best asset management and part number maintenance software application and supporting processes in the industry, we’re eager to offer it to as many channel partners and distributors as possible. We want you to put it through its paces; once you see what ONEview automation can do to improve your business efficiency, increase your renewals, and boost your sales, we think you’ll be impressed!

While the ONEview software you’ll be taking for an extended test drive won’t include some functions, you’ll still be able to try it out using your own service maintenance renewal data, getting a good feeling for its power. You’ll get a real-time view of how ONEview performs in your environment with actual part numbers and renewal data. If you prefer to evaluate ONEview using demonstration data, you’re free to go that route also. Either way, you’ll get a sense of how investing in ONEview will benefit your business.

To support you during the evaluation period, we’ll have a customer service representative available through our live online chat feature. Our representative will answer any questions or concerns, and address suggestions or other input you may have about the product. We encourage you not to be shy. We rely on honest, direct input from our customers, and we will be listening to what they have to say about our ONEview application.

In addition, all summer long MMI will offer open webinars every Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. ET on ONEview, including a 30-minute tutorial highlighting its features and benefits.

To register, please go to: http://ittybitty.bz/WeeklyONEviewWebinar

If you would like to pre-register before August 1st for our 60-day free trial of ONEview go to www.managedmaint.com/freetrial.

 

ONEview free trial

Ideas for Protecting your Business: Selling against Third Party Maintenance Providers

lina-sosa
 
By Lina Sosa

In today’s competitive economy most businesses are looking to save in operational expenses. In the recent past, a common tactic has been switching IT maintenance contracts from the Manufacturer to Third Party Maintenance Providers (TPM).

These TPM Providers have compelling solutions offering End Users up to 80% in annual maintenance discounts, so as a Reseller, you are probably asking: What can I do to protect my business?

Below are some strategies to help you, as a Reseller, educate your customer and protect your business:

• Understand your customer’s environment.Selling against 3rd party maintenance

  •  By understanding your customer’s production environment and the potential impact of downtime, you can help them put together an ROI for what equipment must stay with the manufacturer.
  • Identify what equipment and services require 7×24 support vs. next business day; switching services to next business day can generate savings of up to 35% in some cases, this will at least alleviate the budget considerations pushing them to a TPM.
  • Understand what the customer has in terms of warranty and contract expiration as many TPM’s will offer special discounts to sweep inventory currently under warranty.

• Remind End Users that TPM cannot provide software support on proprietary operating systems and layered products, as well as software on appliances.

  • Understand what other services they have and what they need as many customers have enhanced/proactive support services only available through the manufacturer.
  • This is the perfect opportunity to do a true reconciliation and gap analysis; in many cases the customer purchased software and services that a TPM may not be aware of – take advantage of this opportunity to understand what the customer truly has and truly needs.

• Understand your customer’s budget and potential restrictions.

  • Is the End User mandated to save a certain %? Do they have a number they need to meet?
  • Once you understand the customer’s issues and restrictions this will allow you to work with the Manufacturer and provide a creative solution to prevent losing the contract.
  • Manufacturers understand that TPM’s are a real threat and will help not only with the ROI, but via special bid pricing will also help bridge the gap in pricing differential.

• Help the customer make an “apples-to-apples” comparison between services offered by the Manufacturer vs. the Third Party Maintenance Provider.

  • Consider Technicians: how many, where, technical expertise, training, etc.
  • Parts: what parts, where are they stocked, are they new or used, how is microcode handled? Who do they buy parts from? What happens if they are out a part?
  • Phone Home: have TPM’s explain what they do and how they do it, what data is gathered? Is it automatic or manual?
  • Ask for a copy of the existing support agreement with the Manufacturer.
  • Where is the remote support center? Ask for a visit and demo of tools.

Again, the most important thing is to be so close to your customers that you know what they are doing and why; and always engage the Manufacturer as they share your interest in protecting the business as well!

Are you a customer driven organization?

claire-millsap

 

By Claire Millsap

One of the key areas that I feel we pride ourselves on at MMI is our ability to listen to our customers and quickly act on potential enhancements for our software. Now I am not saying that we will make every change that is requested or that we can turn around enhancements at the click of the button, but we listen carefully, weigh the options and determine if the enhancement will in fact benefit the majority of our customers and/or bring additional value to our product.
There are 3 ways that Six Sigma recommends; obtaining feedback from customers; operational feedback systems, sample surveys, and focus groups.

Operational Feedback Business People In Meeting

These are typically easy to use avenues for customers to provide management with both good and bad feedback. Although they are not statistical in nature, they do provide a narrative as to the state of the relationship with the customer.

Surveys

In surveys data are collected from a sample of customers. There are many types of survey questions that can be used from open ended and fill in the blank to yes/no, ranking and rating questions.

Focus Groups

Typically composed of seven to ten people, these carefully planned discussions are designed to gain insight on defined areas of interest associated to your product.
Of the three types of feedback mechanisms, Surveys tend to be the easiest and least subjective. By utilizing surveys you can determine how your company is fairing in comparison to your competition, as well as how your services are affecting their overall productivity.
At MMI we have used all three methods of obtaining customer feedback. In fact we have added the ability to request enhancements right in our software application. This type of instant operational feedback allows our Development Team to get a pulse on the needs of our customers and allows our customers that all important avenue to communicate with us.

ONEview Customers Make the Difference

claire-millsap

 

By Claire Millsap


Last February, when we announced Version 3.0 of ONEview, our web-based asset management solution, we didn’t just hang our hats on the application’s many new features, although there’s so many of them we easily could have gone there.

We also counted on two other priorities—honest, direct input from our customers, and the unique ability of our entire team to actively listen to what our users had to say. Both were equally vital to improving the next generation of ONEview–as a company, we are fortunate to have truly outstanding antennae.

Oneview 3ONEview offers channel partners an invaluable tool not only to grow their services business but also to manage it more efficiently and productively to deliver a source of recurring revenue and cementing their relationship as trusted advisors to their clients.

Certainly, there’s a lot in Version 3 for customers to be thrilled about and for us to beam about–from an improved, more intuitive interface to an enhanced reports module for easy custom reports and notifications to the upgraded custom fields module–which allows you to change any field name in the system, create custom fields or make fields private.

As you may be aware, all of our product enhancements come from customer input. So, in upgrading ONEview, we relied fully on requests and feedback from our customers—and, in some cases, our customers’ customers using ONEview 2.0–for suggestions to improve the user experience and functionality. In fact, it’s not too much to say that our customers drove our discussions about Version 3’s design and architecture. They’re a vocal group and for that we are very grateful.

Here are a few of the many benefits to be gained from upgrading to ONEview 3.0:

• Know your data. Aggregate critical service maintenance data—install dates, warranty exits and renewals, and identify new opportunities from technology refreshes, refurbishes or decommissions. Automated inventory and software license management is at your fingertips.

• Improve your eyesight. Accurate reporting and data analysis can give you more insight into sales and financial performance. And, you can upgrade your ability to project your annuity business and renewal opportunities out to three years.

• Save money. Accurately forecasting service contract renewals can help with estimating staffing needs and areas where you can cut costs.

• Improve sales. Advanced reporting features in ONEview make it easier to up-sell and cross-selling by knowing what additional maintenance services are available, which markets are using what assets and to identify open opportunities.

• Communicate better. Set up proactive email notifications and relevant data analytics through ONEview customizable data views.

• Enjoy happy, loyal customers. Easy, anytime, client access to information for analysis and sharing across the organization, including flexibility in presenting reports and profile-based data, makes for satisfied customers. Channel partners who encourage their clients to use ONEview can build an ongoing interaction with their customers and foster customer loyalty.

Our goal always is to provide our partners with the best possible asset management product on the market, an application their customers will truly benefit from using. Listening to customer feedback is how we have always gotten there in the past and how we will get there in the future.

Becoming a 2013 Channel Chief

Tina-Lux

 

By Tina Lux-Boim

 

To succeed in the next decade, channel partners must deal with the emerging trends of increased priorities in solving business issues, and streamlining processes rather than adding technology solutions.  Business owners and their leadership teams have steadily shifted focus to replacing capital expenses with operating expense.  This allows cash to be controlled and costs can become variable and manageable.

Tina Lux

 

Understanding this culture shift, and making the necessary adjustments to the business MMI  built to support and enhance the channel, has allowed me the opportunity to be considered a 2013 Channel Chief.
MMI has chosen to lead with value recognition within the channel rather than volume sales.  We accomplish this by:

  1.  Designing services and software programs that will scale to meet the ever changing demands of the industry;

  2. Offering an elegant and comprehensive portfolio of related software modules that are easy to use and lend themselves to the ease of doing business models for the client;

  3. Ensuring we are focused on best practices within the industry, and are designing solid business processes to anchor and leverage our software solution;

  4. Building a strong sales, consulting, and services organization with over 100 years of combined industry-related experience and knowledge;

  5. Being open to change and the demands of the market, and moving quickly to solve any related problems that arise from those changes or demands.

Helping customers leverage automation to decrease cost and increase annuity revenues is a key opportunity for MMI.  Our customers demand a platform that can accommodate the replacement of archaic revenue procurement processes related to annuity renewals.

Any level of distraction or inattention may result in a lack of customer satisfaction required for relationship maintenance, can slow down or  stop the flow of ideas, and ultimately result in degradation of our most important resources  – an innovative spirit and associated intellectual capital.  Having dedicated services resulting from our need to support new industry initiatives, and designing relevant business processes that support our valued offering, the ONEview platform, ensures long-term valued relationships and success.

In a world where technology continues to become a commodity, MMI strives to become our client’s strategic partner by leading the channel in our knowledge base and the ability to react quickly, delivering improved new software enhancements faster and with greater agility.  Learning is an essential piece of the equation for MMI; and based on learning the lessons presented to MMI each day, in order to succeed we assume full responsibility for customer support, market development, and the cultivation of long-term customer relationships.

 

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to come learn with MMI, and help us successfully LEAD the channel into the next decade and beyond.

 

 

UPCOMING TECHNOLOGY – Google Glass

The world of technology is constantly evolving. Things that were once only imaginative items in the realm of science-fiction are rapidly becoming realities in our everyday lives. One of the latest is the Google Glass.

The Project Glass is a research and development program by Google to develop an augmented reality head-mounted display (HMD). Google Glass, will be a head-mounted, Internet-enabled display (shown in picture). Early this year Google should release a US-developer version at a price of $1,500 USD and a more polished consumer version late 2013-early 2014.

The lightweight browband, which looks like an
ordinary pair of reading glasses minus the
lenses, connects to an earpiece that has much
the same electronics you’d find in an Android
phone. That hardware lets Glass record its
wearer’s conversations and surroundings and
store those recordings in the cloud; respond to
voice commands, finger taps, and swipes on an earpiece that doubles as a touch pad; and automatically take pictures every 10 seconds. Prototypes connect to the Internet through Wi-Fi or through Bluetooth and a smartphone. Future versions will likely include a cellular antenna.

Babak Parviz was a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington when Google recruited him to work on wearable-computing technologies and lead its Google Glass project. He provided this update on Google Glass in an interview with IEEE Spectrum in mid-December:

IEEE Spectrum: What is Google trying to accomplish with Google Glass?

Babak Parviz:We wanted to have adevice that would do two things that we think would be useful for a lot of people. One is to have a device that would allow for pictorial communications, to allow people to connect to others with images and video. Right now, we don’t have any devices that are specifically engineered to connect to others using images or video. So we wanted to have a device that would see the world through your eyes and allow you to share that view with other people. The second big goal was to have a technology that would allow people to access information very, very quickly. So when you have a question, you can very rapidly get to the answer.

IEEE Spectrum: Has anyone on the team written any apps for Google Glass?

Babak Parviz: This is a complicated thing. This is not a laptop or a smartphone. It’s an entirely new platform. So how people interact with it and what people do with it is totally new territory. We’ve explored multiple things. We’ve taken pictures and done search and other things with this device. But we hope that when we ship this to developers, other people will also figure out what this very powerful platform is able to do.

Read the full interview HERE

And so, very soon, you will be able to share your “eye view” of the world, literally, with anyone you choose. We wonder what this new technology will enable us to do in the business arena. Stay tuned.

Content of this article thanks to “Google Glass Features and Apps Still in Flux” and “Google Gets in Your Face” at http://m.spectrum.ieee.org
For more information about Managed Maintenance and its contract management programs visit http://managedmaint.com

How to Build an Annuity Stream and Create Solid Maintenance Forecasts

Keeping equipment under warranty is increasingly becoming big business. Is your company taking full advantage of this opportunity?  Service maintenance contracts, which protect the customer’s valuable equipment after the initial warranty expires, is one way to increase your company’s bottom line. These contracts, properly managed, are a continued source of revenue for your business – long after the equipment has being sold to the customer.

Did you know that:

    -  Approximately 2% of every sale goes to warranty spending.
    -  Warranty spending occurs at a rate of $1 million a day at nearly a dozen US manufacturers.
    -  One-third of new products are not covered by contracts and one-half of original maintenance contracts are not renewed.
    -  Market research show 61% of companies have no knowledge of their asset base, or use spreadsheets and rudimentary discovery tools to track the information.

The final session of MMI’s four part Executive Webinar Series shows you how to build an annuity stream with this expanding market. This session covers how to:

  1. Maximize warranty and contract expiration tools
  2. Manage and understand renewal billings vs. warranty expiration billings vs. customer billing cycles
  3. Teach your customers to provide you actionable data that leads to new opportunities on un-owned renewals.

The strategy to building an annuity stream involves people, technology and process, such as:

    -  A sales force that is focused on maintenance and are trained to teach the customer to provide actionable data
    -  Ongoing, proactive asset and inventory management to identify additional maintenance opportunities
    -  Processes for transaction tracking
    -  Customized reporting
    -  Proactive notifications of current and future opportunities

You can increase revenue by consolidating future contracts and post-warranty agreements into a master, long-term contract. Also, consolidation
of pending warranty items with future dates into long-term master contracts enables management of all assets with less support costs and potential break-fix support gaps.

These long term contracts mean renewal dollars for your business. Additionally, by conducting a regularly scheduled, complete inventory of your client’s assets, you can identify more maintenance opportunities. Also,
completing a quarterly warranty exit assessment proactively capture items set to expire that can be placed on a master contract or new post-warranty
maintenance agreement.

Effectively managing your maintenance opportunities gives you not only increased revenue, but enables you to forecast your net new/renewal maintenance. It makes your company a more valuable business with guaranteed annuity revenues.

For more detailed information on how to build your annuity revenue stream and the benefits of managed maintenance contracts, please watch the complete webinar
Click to learn more about MMI’s contract management tool ONEview
Find out about Managed Maintenance offerings at www.managedmaint.com

Software Piracy – What to do as a Trusted Adviser to your Customer

As a solution provider, your goal is to gain not only the business, but the trust of your clients. You are their trusted adviser. So, what do you do if you find unlicensed software in their equipment? Are you obligated to report it?

In a world where most businesses use computers in their daily operations, software piracy is an all too common problem. Research has found that half of the world’s computer users admit to using unlicensed  software. Major software manufacturers, such as Microsoft and Adobe, claim millions of dollars in losses due to software piracy; worldwide the amount is in the billions.

Unlicensed software is found in small companies to large Data Centers. The larger the enterprise, such as Data Centers, the more difficult it is to locate the pirated software and who is using it. Illegally downloading software from the web and installing a single legally licensed software to multiple machines is common practice in many companies – it saves money.

Many businesses don’t understand the intricacies of software licensing and the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA). They believe they have purchased the actual software. To compound the problem, EULAs are constantly changing.

As a trusted adviser and solution provider, what do you do when you find unlicensed software in your customer’s business? Informing the company management can be an uncomfortable conversation. Reporting it to the manufacturer or government agency makes you no longer a trusted adviser.

The provider’s obligation is NOT to install nor service pirated software. Provide the client with a complete report of your finds and make them aware of the problem. Piracy can be very costly and is a security risk. Ensure you act as an information source on the consequences of having unlicensed software, such as:

  • Getting all the missing licenses at one time, to
    be compliant, is expensive
  • Free software often contain viruses
  • Federal penalties can be up to 150K for each
    pirated or copied software

By educating and making them aware of the problem, you retain you status as a valuable trusted adviser. Most often your customer will be grateful and comply by purchasing all the required licenses to stay compliant, as they will be eager to avoid the legal problems.

To find out how Managed Maintenance can help you provide a comprehensive analysis of your client’s enterprise visit Managed Maintenance, Inc.
Data obtained from web publication CRN Channel News, October 22, 2012 “Are You a Trusted Adviser or An Accomplice to a Crime”