Alternative to OEM Maintenance

In this episode, Tim Kubiak and a friend of the show Harry Brelsford from SMB Nation discuss a new project they have been working on A Community and ecosystem dedicated to helping resellers and end-users of IT products and services lower their maintenance bills by 20 to 80% without compromising quality or response times.


Introducing Alternative to OEM Maintenance (Transcript)

Tim Kubiak 0:03
Hi everybody, you notice a different logo Aom dot world and back on we are going to be talking about a number of things today. Some of them relate directly to the IT channel world and how partners can make money and end users can save money. And that’s part of what ALM world, does you are listening and watching bow ties in business. I’m your host Tim Kubiak. And thanks for being here.

Once again, everybody, we’re going to talk about a number of things, community-building channels, influencers, and all of it tied to it asset consumption lifecycle extension and a greater community that actually I’m part of building. So. With that said, I’d like to welcome my friend Harry Brelsford back to the show from SMB Nation. He’s going to kind of keep me honest in this and he’s been a great sounding board resource for me as we’ve developed AOM world. So this episode of bow ties in business, stay tuned, and learn how to make more money or extend the asset life. Harry, thanks for being here. Can you just give everybody a quick bio and refresh on who you are and everything you do?

Harry Brelsford 1:04
Sure, well, a pleasure to be here. Probably, Tim, I’m best known for SMB Nation, a community that is 22 years old, predicated upon right up here in Microsoft Small Business Server. We were excited, we were enthusiastic until Microsoft and have liked it in 2014. To encourage people to go to the 365 community office 365 And Microsoft 365. So since then, Tim, an SMB Nation still alive and kicking, but I’ve been involved in a number of startups from analytics to some cutting-edge verticals. And now, lifecycle management, technology, lifecycle management and asset management.

Tim Kubiak 1:50
So for people that are listening, that aren’t from the IT world, or frankly, have never thought about asset management, because a lot of listeners are channel partners and owners and sellers, why do they care?

Harry Brelsford 2:02
Well, over a trade group called Ira Tam, the leader says Dr. Barber, a friend of mine, and she says it best that if you’re not managing your IT assets, you’re not managing your business. And, you know, I’ve come to really learn that some sometimes as an entrepreneur, and we’ll come to a finder going out and hunting and gathering it business. We kind of forget about the minder role, right? And that’s not for everybody. And I’ve had to evolve into a minder mindset, you’ve got to manage both your business and your IT assets? Are they trust me, they will manage you? And that’s why you should care about it. Asset Management. And it’s it’s a big, big field of study, there’s no question about it.

Tim Kubiak 2:49
And so there’s a new term, it’s coming out, right, and it’s total lifecycle management and it kind of builds on that foundation. And my take on that is actually hardware OEMs love them or hate them, right? feed off of them or feed on them directly, are predicated on selling you new equipment, selling you new licenses every three years, five years, seven years, right? Anything they can do to compress the refresh cycle. IT Asset Management actually is sort of the inverse of that. Write it total lifecycle management is stretching, the value of something you’ve had cap axon. Additional years now what you do as a corporation can change with that. And we’ll talk a lot more about that actually on Aom world. But just to put that thought out there. So if you’re a channel partner, and you’ve been living and dying on Refresh, and now you have the recurring revenue model of people moving to the cloud, total lifecycle management is actually a way to increase your margins, right? While saving your customers money.

Harry Brelsford 3:50
Yeah, it’s it’s consistent with the podcast I was on yesterday about automation and scaleability. And quite frankly, for a managed services provider of a channel partner better known as MSP. It’s all about, you know, saving time and money, right. That’s the new business model. And so if you can extend the life of the asset, you’re doing right by the customer, to save the money and ultimately time and doing the refresh. And that’s the way the world works right now. Right? The idea of AI let me do a little storytelling. My great aunt down in Texas, and God bless her. She came from an old school, small oil family, but she go down every year and buy a brand new Cadillac that was her thing.

Tim Kubiak 4:40
Not a bad thing to have. Not a bad old school.

Harry Brelsford 4:43
And again, God bless her. But today, Tim, what do you see on robocalls and TV, you see these ads for extended warranties for your car, which is exactly the opposite. And that’s the way a lot of people think does that make sense?

Tim Kubiak 4:58
Yeah, it does. And as a guy just sold a 2006 Honda this past spring. I’m your worst nightmare if you sell new cars.

Harry Brelsford 5:07
Yeah, yeah. And that’s a whole nother podcast about the used car market.

Tim Kubiak 5:13
So am worlds a community? That’s part of what I brought you on to talk about because you built a number of very successful communities? What’s your thoughts on why this one matters? And where it’s a different kind of where it fits?

Harry Brelsford 5:26
Well, a couple of things. So first of all, we really now think in terms of that being an ecosystem in Alinea laid that out, back in the 90s. And the 2000s, there were things called user groups, right for Novell NetWare. And you’d go and there’d be three to 400 members on the third Thursday night. And then that changed to online communities, right. And now I think what we’re doing with the AOM world, it’s fair to call it a community. But I think it’s also an ecosystem where we have these interconnections between different communities, stakeholders and constituents, right, so we’re thinking a little bit bigger than just the old Thursday night user group and trying to add more value. So EO, EO M world is an ecosystem to, you know, do a couple of things. One is to share best practices and asset management, licensing, and so on. Number two, educate the members of the Aom world on trends and opportunities. Number three would be a cool tool. So we have a free cool tool that actually helps with asset management and provisioning, the consumption of third party maintenance, extended warranties very quickly, in a very rapid manner for quoting, right, that was always one of the drawbacks, in that world to apply an extended warranty was too long to get the quotes. Remember, we talked about automation and scalability, right, so we play really well into some of those conversations. And that’s kind of it the baseline,

Tim Kubiak 7:12
okay. And we teased in the opening about influencers, and everybody or at least my mind goes to Instagram and traditional social media, but influencers actually play a huge role inside of the tech community, especially from a technical resource and an engineering perspective. Thoughts on, you know, how they’ll benefit from this ecosystem in this community?

Harry Brelsford 7:35
Well, I think it goes two ways. One is an influencer, you know, they they need a, they, they need a congregation to preach this right. analogy, that’s what makes them an influencer. So you know, these people tend to be lifelong learners. They read in the morning and they, you know, have the automatic download podcast and Spotify while they’re driving their car, that kind of thing. In so Aom world, I think will contribute to their, their knowledge base, quite frankly. And then vice versa. influencers in the asset management area, can then have a congregation a flock, that can benefit from their knowledge, right, that it’s the one who speaks to many. And so we’re certainly going to play that. And that’s reflected in some of the launch partners that we have at Aom world, handpick people who are successful, you know, both on the technical side and the business side.

Tim Kubiak 8:34
So you talk about the launch, when the day this comes out, we’re actually at cyber fit the Acronis event in Miami, Florida, we’ll be doing some live stuff from down there. But talk about that matchmaker thing, because we’ve been pretty selective and much with your guidance of who we want to include in these first stages before we open the doors to make sure we got it right.

Harry Brelsford 8:55
Yeah, well, you know, let me let me give you some perspective from the old my time is on Microsoft vendor. Microsoft has tried, you know, these things go in cycles. About every few years, Microsoft tries to have a partner Connect site, right, where customers can come to Microsoft and connect with a partner in the partners get all frothy that they’re going to get this influx of leads, and they just haven’t been able to pull it off. It’s hard to scale matchmaking in do it, right. And then Tim, to be honest, about every time we thought we were getting close, Microsoft legal would step in and squash it because they’re worried about the liability, right? Like, what if the partner knocks over a statue in someone’s home office and we connected them. So we’re not going down that road? We’re gonna be a lot more selective and be thinking about, you know, I guess I’d say authenticity that there’s customers that want to be presented with some IT service providers who know what they’re doing. And we can help facilitate that. Now, it’s not going to scale to the Microsoft size, right? I don’t want it to, I think we want to have more of a, you know, quite frankly, more, it would resemble more of a monthly meetup group where you just get together and you do business the old fashioned way, right by referral reference, talking it out, handshake, followed by a contract. That’s where I see a starting, I may come, you know, asked me in five years when we scale this thing globally, but initially, I really think we need to keep an eye on quality and authenticity. And essentially, it’s, it’s almost like stacking and ranking partners by their expertise and quality, you know, not quite that formal.

Tim Kubiak 10:48
So So one of the things that we’ve put a lot of design time into in creating this is we actually recognize the different types of partners have different needs, right? So when you say quality, often people think size of a partner. And we all know that there’s the usual suspects, whether it’s 12, or 50, in the IT ecosystem, that everybody when you say that, thanks to those companies, they’re great companies, by the way, I do business with most of them, right. But it’s also we found a way to be inclusive, if you will, of the regional partner and the burgeoning MSP. And frankly, to Joe’s in a trucker friend, the shed is my friend Simon Says, right? That Ronnie good healthy business, maybe in an NFL city, or maybe even a secondary or tertiary market, in eon worlds a place for them, you know, and is geared, intended to be geared towards them getting what they need. Is that

Harry Brelsford 11:42
fair? Yeah, it is. And so we welcome everybody, however, the big dawgs are already in this space and established and, you know, we want them to participate in the community. But Aom world was really designed at the core to also invite the small and medium business managed services provider, because Tim, quite frankly, they don’t have a home right now. And they do have domain expertise and asset management, infrastructure and so on. And there’s a real opportunity. So there’s that. And then the other thing would be would be our that our level of trust in and here’s what I mean, with the Aom world business model. We’re not facilitating the third party maintenance of consumption providers to speak directly with the customer rather go through an EO M world partner via distribution. Because when it comes time for renewal, we don’t want to have the unfortunate incident where the original underwriter maybe for lack of a better word, sends out a postcard or makes a phone call to the customer. And quite frankly, cuts the the MSP partner out of the renewals. So that’s also a real pillar of our communities.

Tim Kubiak 13:03
Yeah, and it’s foundational for what CPI does. And for those of you that don’t know is oppo Productions, Inc. I am the CEO of at this point, and we run for brands that go exclusively through distribution, we don’t sell directly to end users were 100% channel focus. And ALM world was sort of an offshoot of that. branding for people, frankly, to have consolidated resources. So just so everyone knows, no, no sleight of hand here. Um, with that, Carrie, what am I missing? We’ve got some things on the website, we have four or five key areas. Can we just talk about those to close things out?

Harry Brelsford 13:39
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So you know, in a community and community building now, ecosystem building, you know, you have to have a reasons for being right. And I alluded to that earlier with the Small Business Server SKU over my shoulder. And when you have a reason for being you have a an ecosystem and a community. So for us, it’s initially going to be education, right, that, that we’re putting up a lot of resources to educate, primarily, are more often than not the SMB MSP on what the opportunity is, then that will scale out to meet meetups and attending events. And who knows, maybe we’ll host an event someday to help people, you know, go up the partner maturity continuum, right. That’s, that’s really where it’s at right now, as he can’t just rest on your laurels. And, you know, it’s changing too quick, not only on the technical side, but the business model side. But Tim, the one thing we might be missing is the counter slipped Well, cyclical side with the pandemic economy. Here’s what our research showed, and it’s backed up by Spiceworks and a new report from IDC and basically the spin shift over the past couple years when From the infrastructure hardware, the servers the the internal private clouds, etc. Over the laptops. Okay. And so there was no cash and these are some businesses that also went to revenue. I can’t be generous and say neutral but really revenue is zero.

Tim Kubiak 15:18
Cleveland research prior to the pandemic was projecting for 20 29% decline in desktop and laptop and everybody in that world thought that was okay.

Harry Brelsford 15:30
Yeah, yeah. And and so the spin shift means that the EO, one world opportunity is to understand how to extend the life of the infrastructure assets for a fraction of the cost of replacing it as these companies rebuild their IT budgets, you know, and there will of course, be a hardware, refresh it, you know, time period five, but the opportunity is now.

Tim Kubiak 15:56
Great. Harry is always thanks for being here. For anyone that wants to find Harry beyond the OCONUS cyber fit event where we’re at as you’re catching this, if you’re catching it close to when it comes out. You can find him in SMB Nation links are in the show notes. And you can also find them on LinkedIn and I will link to his profile that Harry is always thanks so much for being here. Thank you

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