22 Jun 5 Ways to Turn Office 365 Into a Profitable Service Offering
As Microsoft has aggressively responded to the encroachment of Google Apps into its productivity software dominance, the powers that be have pushed Office 365 as its primary strategy for serving productivity customers—either directly or through the channel.
While this approach has won over many conversions to the Software as a Service (SaaS) model for Microsoft, it has earned somewhat ambivalent attitudes from the partner community. Many partners see the anemic margins offered by Office 365 and feel threatened by the prospect of moving clients away from more profitable traditional management of on-premises Exchange servers. However, in spite of potential difficulties in transition, Office 365 presents numerous business opportunities for partners willing to evolve their business practices, including the following:
Convert the Migration Business Opportunity
Migration is never simple. It can be made even more difficult in the shift to Office 365 due to the fact that not all organizations plan to switch to the cloud all at once. This presents to channel partners not only a legitimate business opportunity for project income, but also an opening to build a more meaningful relationship with clients shifting to the cloud.
Leverage Office 365 Interest for New Client Acquisition
Smart partners are doubling down on Office 365 by utilizing the leads they’re getting from Microsoft to go deeper with these clients once they’ve helped with initial migration and setup of Office 365. These partners see this initial win as a way of getting a foot in the door as a trusted advisor.
Source Office 365 Wholesale & Bundle It With Unique Service Offerings
After the hue and cry from the channel community was heard loud and clear by Microsoft, the company changed course from its initial direct-billing-only model for Office 365 and now offers partners the ability to wholesale and repackage the SaaS productivity suite. Added offerings can include migration services, along with premium support, backup services or bundling with other SaaS software for a more complete package.
Provide Premium Support
Especially for the cheaper versions of Office 365, the direct technical support provided by Microsoft can be extremely meager, lacking the customizability to meet client business needs and serve clients’ users. Without intervention from a partner, this may be a bigger hassle for the client in the cloud than with a traditional on-premises Exchange server. Proactive partners are finding great success in acting as the backstop for this insufficiency, performing back-end administration such as running the provisioning and de-provisioning of users, as well as providing telephone-based support for all users and maintaining a help desk for Office 365.
Add Backup, Search and Restoration
In addition to the standard premium support services, partners can up the ante by offering add-on services such as backup, search and restore for clients on a per-seat basis. By working with eFolder Cloudfinder, partners can easily set up mechanisms for clients that allow them to ensure that every email users have ever sent, received and even deleted is searchable, findable and retrievable down at the user level. At the same time, administrators at managed services providers (MSPs) can also make it easier to centralize backups and search across users when clients require it.
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