“I’m creating additional, uber stickiness with the customer and they will have additional loyalty with me. It’s about the relationship building component…I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder,” Cisco partner Rhino Networks Todd Carriker told CRN.
Todd Carriker, founder and CEO of solution provider Rhino Networks, likens SMBs to bluefin tuna, versus enterprises, or whales.
“There are many Cisco partners that are out there hunting whales all day. That’s what they’re focused on. But my approach is a little different,” he said.
The Asheville, NC-based Cisco Systems partner instead goes after bluefin tuna, Carriker said. “It might take ten bluefins to equal one whale, but if you ink a contract with a whale and then they decide to go off to a different partner or competitor, you’ve lost that entire enterprise deal. Where if you lose one or two bluefin tunas, you’ve still retained 80 percent of your current revenue stream as an MSP,” he said.
The SMB space is ripe for MSPs, Carriker said, and Cisco, its biggest vendor partner, agrees. SMB was the fastest-growing segment for Cisco during 2022 with 28.5 percent growth in bookings for its fiscal year that ended in July. The unprecedented growth in SMB sales — which Cisco told CRN is 100 percent driven by partners — is proving that Cisco and its partners have only begun to scratch the surface of this market.
Chain Reaction: How Supply Shortages Are Shaking Up The Channel
SMB customers right now are looking for more flexible ways to achieve their business goals. These clients are very interested in cost-effective cloud platforms and software and hardware as-a-service options that allow them to scale up or down, based on their needs. They are also looking for the peace of mind that the support of their trusted MSP brings that they can lean on for IT support, Carriker said.
Big plans for 2023
That’s the reason why Rhino Networks is preparing to roll out its own managed services practice in 2023.
The firm today specializes in Cisco’s Meraki portfolio of cloud-based products and serves thousands of customers in the US through its partnership with distributor Ingram Micro for Cisco Meraki product fulfillment. While Rhino has always offered professional services, such as onboarding and deployment services around its offerings, the company is now turning its attention to providing managed services on an ongoing basis for its SMB customers, Carriker said.
“We’ve been building our own bespoke way that we want to do MSP with what makes sense to us,” he said. This includes networking and security-focused managed services around offerings such as Meraki services, Cisco Umbrella, Duo Security, and Webex Meetings.
Rhino’s approach will be to “trickle” its new managed services out to its SMB clients based on customer conversations with Rhino’s engineering and sales representatives, Carriker said. SMBs will receive an enterprise-grade platform and Rhino’s experts can walk them through usage and adoption, because technology shouldn’t be approached in a one-size-fits-all fashion, especially in the world of hybrid work, he said.
Many of Rhino’s SMB clients have a lean IT team that are geographically spread out. Managed services are a “needed compliment” to these IT teams, Carriker said.
Stronger Relationships Will Only Get Stronger
Rhino has already forged strong relationships with its customers and sees about a 95-percent customer retention rate. That percentage will only increase with the addition of managed services, Carriker said.
“I’m creating additional, uber stickiness with the customer and they will have additional loyalty with me. It’s about the relationship building component — you have to show [clients] you genuinely care and it’s not about how much you pay me,” he said. “I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder.”
The firm has already floated its upcoming managed services practice by its customers and “90 percent” were eager to sign on, Carriker said. “This captures so many customers that are already part of our own base,” he said.
According to Cisco, 45 percent of the company’s market opportunity by 2025 will go through the managed services route to market, marking a whopping $113 billion total addressable market for the tech giant and its partners.