News & Updates

AppDirect and Mural: Solving SMB IT Challenges

By Steve Zimba / Sep 23, 2014

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Today, Steve Zimba, President of Mural, takes to the stage at the AppDirect Partner Summit to moderate a panel that explores key insights related to developers, such as ease of integration, marketing, promotions, and more. In this guest blog post, Zimba discusses how, working with AppDirect, Mural provides value to developers, service providers, and SMBs alike.

Today, many service providers and cloud IT distributors have been very successful building compelling product catalogs, launching cloud marketplaces, and establishing distribution channels to reach new SMB customers interested in moving their IT to the cloud. Increasingly, SMBs also are visiting cloud marketplaces to discover and buy a wide range of IT solutions. Sales are being made and service providers, cloud ISVs, and SMBs are benefiting from better solutions at great prices.

However, in the immediate post sale phase, SMBs still face significant challenges implementing their new solutions. Though some service providers offer limited guidance, most rely on SMBs figuring out on their own how to migrate to a new solution, and use all of the features and functionality it has to offer. Even though today’s business solutions are easier to use than ever before, a complete self-service approach obviously presents problems that can lead to frustration.

Some service providers recognize this and go a step further, offering fee-based services to help with activation. However, these services come at a high cost, with a customized, non-repeatable approach. In the end, neither the self-service or light-touch approach to implementation is effective enough for the SMB. Many sales churn, leaving the service provider without revenue and the SMB very dissatisfied with the experience.

To address the post sale implementation challenge, a robust onboarding experience is needed that includes solutions for end user account and device setup, data migration, system administration and configuration, and end user training. These solutions have to be delivered with two options. The first is designed for the “do-it-yourself” SMB and provides initial guidance and a set of easily consumed DIY instructions and tools. The second is designed for SMBs that want a complete turnkey “do-it-for-me” approach that includes the necessary people, process, and tools. Key to both solutions is a professional services product line integrated with a service provider’s cloud product catalog and marketplace.

Here at Mural, our business is built around providing just these types of onboarding resources. We are the industry leader in delivering productized professional services specifically designed to help SMBs implement cloud IT solutions quickly, easily, and economically. Working with AppDirect, we offer Mural’s MaaXcloud Professional Services Marketplace to enable partners to offer comprehensive “do-it-yourself” and “do-it-for-me” implementation professional services solutions. MaaXcloud currently supports a growing range of solutions—including Microsoft Office365, DocuSign, Symantec, McAfee, AnyMeeting, WebEx, Carbonite, Mozy, Hostway, and Ecwid—and we are always looking to add additional services to that list.

Beyond implementation, MaaXcloud also offers a unique solution to accelerate up-sell/cross-sell. Many SMBs are interested in moving all of their IT to the cloud, so MaaXcloud acts as a “trusted advisor” to guide an SMB toward additional products and services throughout the implementation process. MaaXcloud also gathers data about SMBs wants, needs, and preferences, which can be used for additional nurturing after the initial product purchase and implementation are complete. Altogether, MaaXcloud offers new products from our partners’ catalogs to 90 percent of activated customers. With a 35 percent close rate, these offers translate into significant new revenue for MaaXcloud partners.

Our partnership with AppDirect means that any service provider has easy access to professional services products that they can use to successfully address the SMB implementation challenge. MaaXcloud is already deployed with several AppDirect-powered marketplaces, and we are driving significant benefits that include higher activated units, lower customer churn, reduced support costs, increased customer satisfaction and referral, and accelerated revenue.

In short, MaaXcloud is a revenue generator for service providers and cloud ISVs while also ensuring SMBs have a world class customer experience moving their IT to the cloud. Look for more updates on MaaXcloud in the future, including additional products supported as well as the introduction of cloud IT management and support solutions. For more information on MaaXcloud, visit or email Mural President Steve Zimba at