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View from the channel

With Gary David Smith, co-founder of Prism Solutions

Founded in 2001, Prism Solutions looks after the IT needs of thousands of small businesses across the UK. It offers a full range of services including IT support, outsourced IT, cyber security, business communications, cloud computing and disaster recovery. For start-ups and small firms, the Prism BOX provides a computer, software, cloud services, back-up and anti-virus for a monthly rental of £99.99. Prism Solutions has offices in Cheshire, Manchester and London and employs 60 people.

Technology Reseller (TR): How’s business? Better or worse than 12 months ago? And how confident are you about the future?

Gary David Smith (GDS): Business is better as the market is now in a ‘pull’ rather than a ‘push’ cycle. I’m confident about the future because there is still plenty of scope to evolve and grow.

TR: In what areas (product or market sector) are you experiencing strongest demand?

GDS: Strongest demand is coming from scaling businesses that require outsourced services, guidance, management and expertise to meet their own objectives.

TR: Where is business proving most difficult (product or market)?

GDS: In terms of products, there is more available choice resulting in commoditisation and reduced margin per service. However, there are more products and services. This makes procurement decisions for the MSP more involved. That said, as the choice widens the quality improves.

TR: How have you changed/are you changing business operations to exploit new opportunities?

GDS: By focusing on the business or client output rather than leading with the product or service and by utilising the best tools we can to help the client achieve their goals.

TR: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing channel businesses today?

GDS: Many have now addressed the challenge of moving from product or ‘tin’ to service income. The conundrums one faces are, firstly, positioning this with existing clients and then evolving one’s business to ‘tool up’ for the acquisition of new clients. Scaling the delivery in a repeatable, profitable formula is the next hurdle.

TR: Could vendors and distributors do more to help you overcome them? And, if so, what?

GDS: Many have increased their support in training, sales and marketing. For us, the main area where they can help the channel has always been product support to ensure we can meet the expectations of the client. I think it’s difficult to do more than that as the reseller community is very broad and operates at different levels.

TR: Are customers becoming more demanding, and, if so, in what ways?

GDS: Not more demanding but demanding different outputs. KPIs like first fix are becoming minimum expectations, so we are judged less on that these days. The demand now is for more strategic involvement in the customer’s plan. The confidence that you can scale with them is top of the shopping list.

TR: If you could change one aspect of your job, what would it be and why?

GDS: I wouldn’t. That said, a bigger crystal ball would be useful.

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