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For service providers, keeping an eye on trends and rising client needs is a critical part of being successful. Meeting client demand and staying ahead of new concerns or feature expectations is a great way for service providers to gain a competitive advantage. Part of staying ahead is anticipating demand so proper measures can be put in place before the client even asks. When a topic comes up, the client wants a solution right then and there … they don’t want to wait for your to find (or build) one.
So what should service providers expect going into 2018? A few major themes from 2017 are likely to gain more mindshare as we move into the New Year, and successful service providers (regardless of service or industry) will be prepared to address these needs before clients even raise the topics.
If you haven’t heard from your clients about security already, that conversation is certainly coming soon. Last year may have finally catapulted cybersecurity irrevocably into the forefront of business conversations. Not only did we see disclosures of some of the largest security breaches in history, but those paying attention will notice that no company (no matter how small) is immune to the issue. A recent survey found that 45% of organizations experienced a security incident within the last two years and more than 90% feel their organization is vulnerable to a significant security event.
Putting security at the forefront of both how your organization functions and the services you provide will be critical to winning and maintaining business in the next few years. Having documented practices and clear answers regarding your approach to cybersecurity is table stakes these days.
Often going hand-in-hand with security is compliance, with several major standards being enforced today. For service providers, this is often PCI DSS, HIPAA HITECH and, soon, GDPR (for those handling European-based data). These standards apply to any organization that not only collects, but handles and/or transmits protected information, effecting many service providers.
What will make clients particularly concerned about your compliance standing is that a breach at the vendor level still constitutes a data breach for the client whose data was affected. With increasing cybersecurity threats and the non-compliance ramifications that can result from an incident, clients are going to start putting pressure on vendors to help meet and maintain compliance standards.
The concept of “cloud first” strategies have been driving many organizations for years and that’s now being reflected in real spending decisions. A study published in January 2017 predicted that 80% of IT budget would be spent on cloud solutions in 15 months. If that survey was correct, we’re a mere three months away from the vast majority of IT budget being dedicated to cloud solutions.
Companies are already making the transition, whether it’s for better data security, easier software and desktop deployment, or to meet the needs of an increasingly flexible and mobile workforce. While there will always be a segment of the market that can’t or won’t move to cloud solutions, the majority of organizations will be looking for service providers that offer cloud services in 2018. Providers that want to make themselves particularly valuable will partner with additional cloud solution providers that offer complementary services.
Vendor fatigue isn’t new, but with the increasing security, compliance and cloud demands, coupled with increased use of service providers and other outsourcing services, clients will likely be looking for a way to streamline their engagements and tech stack before long. The point of engaging a service provider is often to take a non-business critical task off the plates of internal staff, leaving them more time and resources to focus on business driving activities. If managing service provider relationships becomes such a time consuming task that the initial benefits are negated, organizations are going to start looking at how to streamline their engagements.
Bringing as many solutions to the table under the umbrella of the services you provide can be a way to help clients feel less overwhelmed. While on the backend the same number of vendors may be involved (depending on whether you offer all the services in house or via strategic partnerships), if you’re taking on the management and billing aspects of these relationships you can provide more of the services your clients are looking for while adding perceived value to your offering. Expertise is critical to clients choose service providers, but value shouldn’t be underestimated.
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Schools hold a lot of payment care data and personal health information, but being PCI and HIPAA compliant doesn’t have to be difficult. READ MORE