This Post Originally Appeared on CEPro.com on January 04, 2017
Thinking about remote systems management (RSM) as a cost of doing business is only half the picture, especially when you consider earning recurring revenue on proactive monitoring.
For years the concepts of remote systems management (RSM) and RMR have gone hand in hand. But a recent article by Julie Jacobson called this premise into question.
Julie’s article makes an effective argument that the deployment of RSM tools may be better viewed as a cost of doing business than strictly a tool to generate RMR. But whether RSM tools should be tied to an RMR program depends mostly on how you choose to use them.
Research has shown that the vast majority of support seekers expect a quick response and quick resolution when they see these problems arise. Our experience shows that they do not expect to pay for this immediate support.
As a result, integrators must absorb some elements of support as a cost of doing business and subsequently aim to keep these costs down. This can be done by leveraging tools such as network-accessible power conditioners, managed switches, and RSM tools such as Ihiji, Domotz, Krika and OvrC Pro.
At this basic level, RSM tools are about enabling reactive service; a client calls to notify you of a problem and you jump into your RSM platform to diagnose and repair. This sort of remote troubleshooting functionality is considered standard functionality by most integrators, and as a result manufacturers are responding by providing much of this functionality for free.
Imagine a manufacturer trying to charge a monthly fee for the ability to remotely reboot an outlet on one of their connected products. Integrators would likely balk because this sort of functionality is now expected.
RSM providers are also aware of this shift in expectations. Ihiji, BakPak and OvrC all offer free services to their users for this reason, and I predict the RSM providers that don’t have a free usage tier for the professional market will soon be forced to follow suit (eg. Domotz).
So while it is hard to justify billing your clients monthly for reactive troubleshooting, that only paints half of the RSM picture. The real power of a properly-deployed RSM tool lies its ability to enable monitoring and proactive support, and this should unquestionably be tied to an RMR program.
Unlike the reactive troubleshooting described above, there is no implicit expectation on the part of consumers that proactive monitoring should be free. The fact that there is strong perceived value in monitoring is the reason why no other industry gives this value away. Home technology professionals shouldn’t either.
In short, I think Julie’s piece got the question right, but we can delve even further into this issue. RSM tools can in fact stand on their own, providing real value to the integrator without necessarily being tied to an RMR program. But just because a given RSM tool doesn’t have to be tied to RMR doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be.
Instead, we should looking at RSM in two distinct categories: reactive vs. proactive. As an integrator you can rightfully choose to use RSM in the former capacity, as a means of reducing labor costs and providing support without rolling a truck. When used in this reactive manner, it is appropriate to absorb RSM as a cost of doing business just like you would a CRM or piece of design software.
However, if you plan to leverage the powerful monitoring and notification features of modern RSM platforms, then you should absolutely be selling your clients a recurring service plan. Otherwise you are leaving money on the table.