James Henderson

As Waikato born MSP turns 35, SMB digital focus sharpens

Accelerated demand for digital solutions among small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) is recalibrating the relationship between end-users and service providers in New Zealand, with IT management contracts under deeper levels of scrutiny.

Whether reassessing solution portfolio capabilities or extracting additional value from current purchases, local SMBs are turning to technology to improve operations, streamline costs and strengthen competitiveness.

As a result, SMB spending on managed service providers (MSPs) and system integrators (SIs) is expected to grow 12% annually between 2021 and 2025, according to Analysys Mason data. But such double-digit investment comes with a caveat – up to 40% of SMBs switched IT supplier within the past 12 months due to poor levels of service.

Amid such changing market dynamics, Elite Business Systems is evolving managed services offerings to deliver on the promise of digital for Kiwi SMBs.

Founded in 1988, the 35-year-old MSP goes to market with expertise spanning cloud, security, networking, infrastructure, collaboration, devices and printers. The business was born in Hamilton and has expanded beyond Waikato with offices in Auckland and Tauranga.

“We’ve revitalised a start-up mindset in our team to become a strong technology solutions partner,” said Christo Pretorius, General Manager of Elite. “Although the business is turning 35, we remain as committed as ever to not only adapt to changing market demands but to drive our plans forward to become a key technology partner for our clients.”

Christo Pretorius (Elite Business Systems)

As explained by Pretorius, the specialist provider is prioritising guidance and consultation with “carefully curated” technology stacks in all areas of business technology.

“Our top priorities include enhancing the standards for technology compliance and client service to be best-in-class,” he added. “We are upgrading and on-boarding all existing clients to our new managed service agreements which are packed with a lot of value.”

The revamped agreements are designed to help SMBs with simplifying IT budgets and providing strategic direction – underpinned by additional security and management capabilities.

“This helps take the micro decisions out of the customer’s hands and allows us to meaningfully contribute to their IT environments and strategies,” Pretorius added.

Noting the impact of significant wage inflation and ongoing skill shortages, Pretorius said SMBs are evolving into “co-managed” engagements as companies transition from internal IT staff to fully outsourced approaches.

“There’s value in having one partner look after all business solutions,” he added. “But driving sufficient visibility and awareness of this can be challenging.”

Building SMB tech stacks

According to Microsoft findings – Securing the SMB opportunity in Australia and New Zealand – 51% of SMBs now expect technology partners to proactively recommend new solutions, chiefly linked to security, digital, collaboration and cloud offerings.

Representing a $16 billion annual opportunity at a local level – and more than 546,000 SMBs in New Zealand – the onus is now on MSPs to provide informed advice and deliver technology capabilities, not just sell products.

“We’re planning to drive wider adoption of Microsoft 365 solutions,” Pretorius explained. “It’s important to educate clients on what added value exists in the subscriptions that they are already paying for.”

Within the context of Microsoft 365, security, governance and compliance also remain foundational to partner offerings. According to Microsoft findings, 90% of Kiwi SMBs currently purchase endpoint security with 90% also prepared to switch MSP if improved security is offered by a competitor.

“SMBs are prioritising enhancing cyber security measures while implementing robust remote work infrastructure and increasing efficiencies by taking advantage of existing solutions,” Pretorius noted.

“This is especially true for businesses using the Microsoft 365 suite of products. There’s value in extracting benefits from the existing subscriptions to assist with security, efficiency and productivity initiatives.”

With the acceleration of digital transformation within SMBs showing no signs of slowing down, Elite is also exploring the possibility of integrating artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance service delivery and quality control.

“AI will have a big and positive impact on the SMB market in New Zealand,” Pretorius said.

“Inflation is impacting everyone and because of this, businesses are increasingly recognising the need for streamlined and efficient IT processes to optimise productivity, reduce costs and maintain competitiveness.”

To help meet revised SMBs requirements, Elite is also undergoing internal team structure changes to best position the business for future success. This is in addition to increasing investment in employee development linked to data analytics and system integration.

“Learning and development is an important part of the process,” Pretorius acknowledged. “But this will come up short if not wrapped around a growth mindset, culture of collaboration, hands-on experience and continuous improvement.

“Without this, we risk having expertise purely based on being ‘book smart’ while lacking real-world experience and curiosity.”


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