Richard speaks with 3 of the top MSP Vendors at the 2014 CompTIA EMEA Conference in London to understand how their tools can help IT Managed Service Providers (MSP's) help their clients and make more money.
Richard Tubb: So I'm here at the CompTIA EMEA Conference with Ben Lange of Rummage. How are you doing Ben?
Ben Lange: I'm very well, thanks. How are you doing?
Richard: Good! So tell us a little bit about Rummage.
Ben: Rummage is a fast search organization tool. We did some research when we had problems ourselves and that was when it comes to at managing, organizing and finding your data it can be very difficult. And more and more of this day and ages, technology creeps into our lives and we're making files, we're sending files, we're sharing them and we're storing in all sorts of different areas.
And a lot of the time when it comes to surfacing information, trying to get them back and just organizing all, it takes a lot of time to do so.
What Rummage does, it gets to know you a little bit, it understands your contacts and sucks them in from LinkedIn, Facebook, Outlook, Gmail and these sort of mediums. And it also analyzes your file and folder structure within your organization. Gets to know your projects and your clients and it automatically generates tags.
We found that if you're a meticulous organizer, so that's fine, you can find things but often colleagues are sending them, they're sharing them, they're storing them in locations and other people can't find them when they want to. And they waste time at work when it comes to looking for this information. And so we created a typing engine, it's an automatic typing engine that it will go through all your files, gets to know what's important to you and tags everything appropriately.
Richard: So you mentioned that it brings you files from lots of different locations so for instance myself, I'm a Google Apps user, I use Gmail, I also use Google Drive, as well as Dropbox, and I’ve got a local NAS with files in there. Would Rummage help me to sort it out those type of files?
Ben: Absolutely would. What we've been developing the past year is the alpha, and that works at the moment, it works on a local machine. But that includes you know, you've got Dropbox folders there, you've got Google Drive's folders there, you've got your local email, so currently, the free version out now today will do all that and will scan these mediums. What we're working on now is bringing even more things to the front, to the forefront. Where we will index your cloud services.
Everything, all in one place is what we're aiming for, so if you do use Dropbox, you do send attachments, you do have things locally, or on shared drive, or in the cloud and don't waste time looking for it. Rummage has done that hard work for you and just use that.
Richard: And how much time would you estimate people do waste looking across these various services of files?
Ben: That's a very good question. Actual fact The Wall Street Journal mentioned but recently, it's a phenomenal statistic. I can't quite remember but it says a ballpark of couple of hours a week.
Richard: Couple of hours a week.
Ben: Per person. Wasted just looking for data, just trying manage all those emails, manage all those files everywhere. It’s about surfacing information. And in this day and age, where we expect technology to work and we're busy, I need it now and Rummage provides.
Richard: Who were you working with to get the products out to end users? You're working with IT solution providers and managed-service providers. What is an ideal client look like for you?
Ben: That's good question. You know, an ideal client will be anybody in a small medium business who know where money is tight. They don't have enterprise-level solutions, they don't have enterprise-level search organization. And at of the moment, we've taken a sort of a low risk self- fund approach.
We’ve developed the idea completely in house and we now have the alpha out there. So it’s a fantastic opportunity for us to look for partners and talk to managed service providers and talk to the IT world and say, “Look, we've got a fantastic idea”. We produce the alpha, we’ve got downloads, we’ve got users, we're really kicking off and it's a great time to connect with us and talk about our product.
Richard: If anybody listening this, so this can tell where a busy conference, the EMEA Conference has lots going on around us. The conversations that you've had with IT solution providers and managed-service providers, what’s their feedback for Rummage?
Ben: Feedbacks been quite positive. Being really happy with the conversation I've had. It’s not for every MSP, not everybody wants to take a piece of software and then bundle it up with the package that they already produced. But then what I really discovered here talking to managed service providers is that here's a lot of differences on how they approach their profession.
I really think having some fantastic conversations that it is a tool that MSP's can get on board with because at the end of the day they’re providing service to their clients and that service is all about productivity, it's all about efficiency. Rummage is about that. It's about saving time for the end-user and essentially for the MSP.
We actually might be reducing the number of support tickets they get from clients if their clients aren't calling them up saying, “I've lost this, I don't know where my data is,” because Rummage helps you visualize all your data.
Richard: So helping the MSP to lower the cost of customer support?
Ben Lange: You can say that.
Richard: Fantastic. So if anybody listening to this wants to find out more about Rummage, how will they get in touch with you Ben, how will they look at Rummage on the web?
Ben Lange: Absolutely, we're on the main social platform so I'd say the best place is in our website and that's getrummage.com. And you can contact us directly through the website. Of course, we got Twitter and Facebook as well. So our Twitter handle is @getrummage and Facebook is www.facebook.com/getrummage.
Richard: I like the uniformity!
Ben: Thank you very much.
Richard: Well thanks for your time, Ben. Enjoy the rest of the conference.
Ben: No problem at all. Thanks for your time.
Richard: I'm here in CompTIA EMEA Conference with David Clarke of Benemen UK. How are you doing Dave?
David Clarke: I'm doing good actually Richard thanks so much.
Richard: Good. So tell us a little bit about Benemen UK and what you do.
David: Okay. We started recently in the UK, a Finnish based company. The business started at 2008. It's cloud-based telephony and it does a few sort of quite clever things. It integrates mobile fixed and unified communications in one platform. What does that mean? It means that all the devices you use for telephony or extensions of the same system.
So whether that be your mobile, your desktop, VOIP phone or if you're using Microsoft Link on your computer. As I said, it place everything together in one platform, so your mobile truly is an extension of the same network. Your link client is truly an extension of the network and call-center functionality can be delivered right through at that and there some extra things that can happen. You can have call recording on any device.
If you're in a different country and somebody rings you, you can take your call through your link client rather than on your mobile to avoid roaming charges. But people are still phoning your mobile number or you can be presenting a fixed line number whichever you choose. It's a lot of flexibility in the system.
Richard: What type of clients are actually using this system alone? So you got some great samples of somebody who’s benefited in this system.
David: We’ve got a number of organizations that had a large sales focus so they got people who work from offices or right from client premises. And for them it’s the flexibility of being able to use this wherever they are. But also there are reporting functionality within the system.
So if you got people like that, it's important to for them to know, who are their important customers? Who are their important conversations? There’s a lot of reporting built into it in the background. We've got other organizations that have small sort of offices in other countries so for them it's important for everybody to be included in the same network.
Richard: We're at the EMEA Conference and there's a lot of IT solution providers, managed-service providers, so which particular types of IT businesses are you looking to partner with?
David: We're not looking for huge numbers of partners. What we want to find is partners who have a similar view of the world to us, who perhaps are offering innovative services. So on the straight IT service provider’s side, people who are moving their business into managed services. They see telephony as an important aspect for their overall IT support that they're providing to those people. So people who are supporting installations of 50 to sort of 500 users maybe across multiple sites. That's on the solution provider’s side.
Then maybe other businesses who have a background of selling PBX systems and are now perhaps moving into cloud-based systems to replace those old PBX's as they become end of life and unsupported anymore. Or the vendor who made those things has been acquired for the 5th or 6th time by somebody and so their clients are looking for something A to replace what they've got but probably to add some functionality to the operation.
And there will be a lot of resellers who are selling link maybe as just a unified solution COM solution that people use in-house and we can actually add telephony to that and then perhaps build an overall service package from that.
Richard: And what about the barriers of entry for the partners, do you have certain levels that you look for or sales targets that you need to achieve. What does that look like?
David: The more important thing, the relationship. I was introduced to CompTIA by Mark from Pensar who I've known for some time and people like Mark have very progressive and collaborative view of the market place. And that fits really well with how we see the world. We have a number of partners in our business that we collaborate with and bring them in as the one that is required. And I think is that approach more than anything else that we look for rather than in the early stages, the hard numbers or the targets, so that kind thing.
The relationship is key because if we have a good relationship, then the way people do business is they do business with people like them and so their clients are going to be a reflection of a type of a provider they are and that's what we're looking for. That's the most important thing for us.
Richard: Makes a lot of sense, absolutely. So in terms of the benefits of the IT companies that you partnered with, what does the opportunity look like in terms of pounds and pence?
David: If you look at the moment in Finland and across some other countries, we're looking at sort of average revenues per user up in some instances about 60 or 70 pounds a user. And it’s going to be earning a good margin in that. So you could be talking on something like that. The potential to be earning a margin of perhaps 20 pound a user out of that. Which if you think of 50, 100, couple 100 users then that can build into something that is pretty substantial part of the business.
And we don't say to them, “This is what you got to sell this for,” because recognize more of the not, they’re probably going to be including maybe this as part of an overall package. And for us, if it can add value and they can add a premium to that, then so much are better for them.
Richard: And that's exactly where we met. It’s on Twitter – Follow Friday! So lovely to meet you at last, Dave. Hope you enjoyed the conference and thank you for your time today.
David: Thank you very much, Richard. Cheers.
Richard: I'm here at the CompTIA EMEA Conference with Mark Charleton of Distributive Blue Solutions. How are you doing Mark?
Mark: Today has been really good actually, it's a good opportunity to network with vendors, and some nice MSPs so I’ve had some good conversations.
Richard: Excellent. Just before we got on air, we're talking about App River. For the listeners on the podcast who have never heard it before. Perhaps you could explain a little bit why it‘s a benefit to MSPs.
Mark: So App River is one of our new vendors we have just signed up so there are a cloud provider, offering kind of anti-spam and web security in the cloud. And they’ve also got a good history with host and exchange. Got over eight million mailboxes worldwide, so got good heritage there. And they’re also one of the few syndication partners in the world. Particularly there’s only three with a two-tier distribution agreement, I wish we’ve got.
We now have access to the Office 365 portfolio, an importantly for partners it gives the partner the ability to own their relationship with the customer. It means we bill you, you add your margins to it. You retain the controller over the bill, the relationship and the support.
Richard: And what so benefits do you see the solutions bringing to an MSP ahead of what is a fairly crowded market?
Mark: Office 365 is obviously kind of a Microsoft driven product and you’ve got the alternatives from Google and you got to make your choice for end users what is appropriate. But a lot of the feedback in the channel was that they didn't like handling over the relationship to Microsoft, they wanted to retain that stickiness that was important to them really.
And on the advisor program, they kind of felt that they lost that closeness with their customer. So this agreement is exactly the same service, it's exactly the same screws, it's the same bundles running out the same data center. There’s no degradation of service or anything. It's just the relationship is yours.
Richard: So it seems to me, if a no-brainer why would MSP go with Microsoft when they can work with Blue Solutions to deliver this?
Mark: There's always resellers that feel there's an advantage buying direct from a vendor and maybe you kind of need the experience their kind of support offering and their billing process and decide whether it works for you or not. On the advisor program, there's many, many different stories of rebates and how much you get and you know when you get them our model gets you up front margin.
One of the great challenges with Microsoft as people are probably aware is they kind of change the rules so things start off looking really, really good and then they will reduce your margin. Your discount is reduced, your NFR is reduced and they recently just reduced the action pack down from 250 seats with office 365 down to five, you don't get that restrictions through Blue Solutions.
Richard: For anybody listening to this who wants to find out more about Blue Solutions as a distributor how will they go about that?
Mark: BlueSolutions.co.uk or call into the main sales team. I've got a product specialist that looks after the app services at Office 365, you can have a 30-day free trial with all those services, you get a call supervision with your customers.