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Redefining Vendor/Customer Relationships

My colleague, Joe Panettieri, reports that Dell has won its largest managed services agreement ever with the state of Georgia.

This contract illustrates how Dell, and other technology vendors, are shifting their go-to-market strategies to respond to customers' changing IT management needs.

Anyone who follows the technology industry knows that Dell has been struggling to keep pace with HP when it comes to computer sales. What few casual observers have recognized is how Dell has amassed a new set of remote management capabilities via a series of acquistions over the past year and a half.

Why Managed Services Matter
During that time, Dell has acquired SilverBack Technologies, Everdream, EqualLogic and MessageOne to serve as the foundation for a new portfolio of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and managed service capabilities.

Dell understands that it will have a difficult time outpacing HP and other technology vendors on the strength of its products alone as laptops, desktops and servers become more commoditized.

Instead, Dell and other vendors must differentiate themselves on their ability to help customers generate the greatest value from their systems. This means redefining their services to help customers, and their channel partners, better manage these assets to optimize their performance.

Redefining the Meaning of Support
The most cost-effective way for vendors to monitor these devices and proactively administer them is via managed services. The best way for them to offer these capabilities to their channel partners or customers is via SaaS solutions.

These 'on-demand' services redefine the nature of vendor/customer relationships. Customers no longer have to assume the responsibility for managing their systems and software, and wait for their vendors to respond to their problems when something goes wrong.

Now, they can shift the burden on their vendor to ensure the uptime and performance of their systems and software. By the same token, vendors can no longer boast about their customer support response times. Instead, they must demonstrate their willingness to take on this greater responsibility.