New team member: Robert Stroomberg introduces himself
As of September, Robert Stroomberg joined the Force21 team. He has already started working vigorously on some projects, so some of you might have already met him. For those who haven’t, Robert will introduce himself in this interview. Besides telling something about himself, he also shares his vision on the current MSP trends while giving MSPs some useful advice.
Hi Robert, please introduce yourself to us?
Hi, I am 57 years old, living in the area of Haarlem, married with two adult daughters. I have been working in IT since my first job. That’s quite a while now. I started in hardware reselling and then started 20 years ago at Compaq, now Hewlett-Packard, where I held various management positions. Starting as business manager Storage and later as International Sales and Business Manager. First with focus on EMEA and later on Benelux and France. At HP I assisted in setting up HPE GreenLake (Capacity as a Service) and a new customer segment for managed service providers. An interesting customer segment as it has a very different dynamic from corporate customers. Innovation and change are the most appealing aspects of the segment to me. That’s why the move to Force21 suits me well.
How did you meet and what was your reason for joining Force21?
Already for some time, I was thinking of becoming an independent entrepreneur, but preferably not on my own. So I was looking for like-minded people, also because I want to be able to handle multidisciplinary assignments. I found this with Force21. With Tjarko and Thijs, I had some talks to explore how I would fit within the team and how we would complement each other.
And what is the outcome? What is your special force?
Well, Tjarko has a practical background as an entrepreneur and former owner of a service provider. Thijs is powerful in sales and marketing, and I bring international MSP and corporate experience to the table. Besides my worldwide network, the ten years I have worked internationally have given me a broader vision than just the Dutch market. The MSP market is a global market but is often approached locally. Yet, the international dynamics do have an impact, also locally.
Also, my knowledge of how large corporates work, how to set up large sales projects, and especially a good value proposition will strengthen our teamwork.
What about outside of work? Can you tell us something surprising about yourself?
I love riding my Harley-Davidson. With my wife or friends or former colleagues. To get away for a few days, love it! Woodworking is another hobby. I like to make furniture. And I like to cook, which I do quite well apparently. So now and then, I call friends: “I tried out a recipe and made a bit too much. Do you want to come over for dinner?“. Often they gladly accept the invitation.
Okay, back to work. What are the topic trends in the MSP segment and do you have any tips for service providers?
There is a lot of dynamism in the market. One of the trends you see is that hyperscalers are taking a large share of the market. That’s because they give a different interpretation of the cloud. They do a lot of innovation and operate globally. With MSPs, you often see a local approach. That undoubtedly suits some of the customers, but another part also operates more internationally. So to appeal to them, you need a broader view and approach as an MSP.
How can they have a broader approach?
On the one hand, by presenting themselves bigger and on the other hand by offering a service portfolio that doesn’t aim solely at technology. This can be done in different ways, for example, through partnerships. Gaia-X is a good example. In this collaboration project, European service providers join forces to build a European cloud to outweigh the American supremacy of AWS, Microsoft, and Google. Quite a challenging job because of the different power dynamics between the European countries. Still, you have to do something!
Please bear in mind that as a service provider, you don’t have to develop everything yourself. You can very well build a good value proposition by merging different services, or even companies, into a partner ecosystem. The most important thing is to make your value proposition appealing to your customers. If you have a comprehensive and suitable offer, your customer no longer needs to shop at the competition.
Is there a future for service providers next to the hyperscalers?
Absolutely! The added value of service providers is their customer knowledge and capacity. Customers still need capacity or person-hours for their cloud solutions. They can pick up the phone and call service providers. Hyperscalers are not set up for that. In this sense, the local aspect, meaning customer intimacy, is still important.
However, it requires that you immerse yourself in the business of your customers. Just talking about the technology behind the solution is no longer sufficient. You have to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What will help his business grow, and what is his vision for the future? By supporting your customers in this way and evolving with their business, you will attract other customers and conclude another kind of deal, significantly increasing your turnover on the condition that you also set up your sales organization accordingly. Sales is often neglected. In 2021, your customer doesn’t expect just technical support but also professional customer service. This is my aim: helping our customer MSPs develop in this aspect, based on my knowledge and experience in b2b.
Do Robert’s ideas sound appealing to you and do you wish to think bigger? Contact us to get acquainted and discuss growth opportunities for your organization.