Top Trend for MSPs: Per-User Billing

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The way we work is changing as more employees go mobile, driving a shift in the way MSPs should bill their customers -- per user, not per device.

After an amazing week at IT Nation and HTG, event season is finally winding down. Now that all the keynotes, unveilings, networking sessions, and after parties are done, it’s time for MSPs to consider their key learnings and how it will impact their businesses in 2014. While there are a lot of interesting take-aways, I’d like to highlight one key trend that stood out from the rest and seemed to be universal: the shift from focusing on end-points to per-user billing.  This concept was repeated multiple times over the past few months - most notably, by ConnectWise CEO Arnie Bellini at his IT Nation keynote, and N-able’s Sr. VP of Sales, Mike Cullen, during the N-able Conference.

One universal truth acknowledged by technology professionals is that the workplace is changing - the WAY we work is changing. Work is no longer a place you go, it’s a thing you do, and this evolution is reflected in the way employees utilize devices. We’re not chained to a single desktop anymore; we’re using laptops, tablets, and smartphones interchangeably.

The office perimeter has vanished too - employees have gone mobile, working from home, hotels, cars and coffee shops. The method of billing per device is not only cumbersome but means that you are constantly looking for changes in end-point and device counts. MSPs pioneered the all-you-can-eat IT model and have an opportunity to charge more by extending that model to cover employees regardless of devices.

There are numerous benefits to per-user billing, but we’ll start with the top two:

1. Your customers will thank you.

Your customers know exactly how many employees they currently have, and even how many they plan to hire - but it’s impossible for them to gauge how many devices will be used at any one time in their company. With per-user billing, you can enable them to predict exactly how many licenses they’ll need without a huge hassle - a luxury they’ll want to pay for. Here at OpenDNS in San Francisco, we’ve been charging per-user since day one; a feature born from an office of tech nerds eager to make life easier for our MSP partners. Per-user billing frees them from updating us with tiny changes in end-points, streamlining processes for everyone. Happier customers, partners, and vendors - that’s the way to do business!

2. Establish your business as a cloud service advisor.

Cloud service adoption is on the rise and that means a shift in the way you do business with customers. It’s a valuable opportunity for MSPs - the chance to cement your status as the Virtual CIO by creating a seamless cloud integration plan. Of course, cloud services are inherently user rather than end point based. By incorporating per-user billing in advance, you’ll remove any chance of administrative hassle when it comes to rolling out new services and expanding your relationship.

Whether you’re an MSP or a vendor like us, it’s important to know and understand the needs of your customers and partners - not just for the business they have today, but for the business they’d like to build in the future. By making it easy to plan for the road ahead, you’re paving the way for a lasting business relationship with increasing profitability as they add more services. Although per-user billing may not sound exciting, being able to offer customers more predictability, easier administration, and better proactive account management ultimately means more success for your business.

Dima Kumets is Product Manager at OpenDNS

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