Scott Paul explains what resellers must do to maximise the opportunities presented by Microsoft 365
Microsoft 365 represents the fulfilment of Microsoft’s longstanding vision to deliver an innovative portfolio of productivity, collaboration and security tools that address the future of business. It is the culmination of Microsoft’s innovation, technology and forward strategy, and it will revolutionise how business users work and how administrators manage their IT infrastructure.
Microsoft looked deep into its crystal ball and saw how the modern workplace was drastically transforming. The future is cloud-based. It’s mobile. It’s global and dispersed. It’s not tied to a formal office. And it’s not secure.
For managed service providers (MSPs), consultants and resellers, Microsoft 365 presents a collection of enhanced business opportunities that will not only help to sell subscriptions, but also to educate clients and support the new infrastructure.
Partners will need to develop a ﬂuent understanding of the features, benefits and shortcomings of Microsoft 365 before making client presentations or recommendations. While Microsoft has provided a great deal of information on Microsoft 365, it can be a signifcant task to sort through the available assets and determine which are applicable.
Begin developing your knowledge of Microsoft 365 by understanding:
What Microsoft 365 encompasses;
Key security considerations; and
New service and business opportunities.
What’s In the Box?
Many assume that Microsoft 365 is a new branding approach for the popular Office 365 suite of solutions. It isn’t. Even at its most basic, Microsoft 365 is the applications, management tools and the operating system combined as one. It’s a union that, at a glance, may seem unwieldy. However, its complexity is designed to transform the workplace for the better.
For partners, their clients and IT professionals, it is valuable to think of Microsoft 365 as a practice, not a product. While Microsoft 365 will have a impact on business users, it will be an entire shift in how IT administrators manage technology and their users. In turn, partners need to take a different approach when presenting Microsoft 365 to clients.
Securing Microsoft 365
Microsoft 365 radically changes the security footprint and foundation. With Microsoft 365, all the pieces work in concert and receive structured updates that are compatible with the entire stack. Among the many enhancements, Microsoft recognised that security can’t be addressed at only the enterprise or IT level, since end-users can infect the network with the click of a bad link. Therefore, Microsoft intelligently moved security to the user level and partners need to educate their clients on how to use these new tools.
Microsoft 365 outperforms legacy operating systems with a secure, modern state that extracts the best of Microsoft’s new security capabilities. Moreover, while Microsoft 365 offers a wide range of security enhancements above and beyond Office 365, it will still require additional protections and will demand heightened monitoring and maintenance.
Microsoft 365: The Channel Opportunity Beyond the opportunity to sell new subscriptions to customers, Microsoft 365 provides channel partners with a new opportunity to deliver ongoing service and support, along with the necessary hardware and security software that will power the next-generation, secure enterprise.
From a financial perspective, Microsoft 365 carries a higher perceived price point than Office 365, so gross margins will likely increase if partners apply the same mark-up methodology. Partners should expect a 10-18% increase in earnings over typical managed services.
Since Microsoft 365 is still new and there is much confusion in the market, partners can expect to receive many questions from clients. Some clients will raise objections about the move to Microsoft 365 by attempting to hang on to current or legacy operating systems as long as possible.
Based on Microsoft’s impassioned approach and the widespread benefits that Microsoft 365 will deliver, the upgrade to Microsoft 365 is essentially inevitable. It’s not about if, it’s when, since many end-of-life (EOL) events are already scheduled to occur by the end of 2020. While Microsoft has been known to extend EOL deadlines in the past, the transitions to Microsoft 365 and reseller opportunities will happen soon.
Next Steps: Getting Started
The need to get up-to-speed quickly on Microsoft 365’s intricacies cannot be overstated. Few have time to sort through the bulk of Microsoft material and extract the most actionable items, so it’s helpful to locate documents, podcasts and videos that act as an ‘interpreter’ to help decipher Microsoft’s marketing language and support documentation for you and your customers.
There are also complimentary courses to help partners learn and sell Microsoft 365, some of which result in a certification medallion, a key element of validation that IT decision-makers will seek when selecting expert Microsoft 365 resellers.
Develop your knowledge, then get ready for the new era of opportunities with selling and supporting Microsoft’s visionary new platform to IT decision-makers.
About the Author Scott Paul is the Senior Director of AppRiver’s Microsoft Alliance. AppRiver was one of Microsoft’s original go-to-market partners for Office 365 and now has one of the most experienced Office 365 support teams in the business. The company provides free Microsoft 365 training courses for channel partners.