Anexinet Exec: You Can Still Make Money Off of Microsoft Office
… the era of SMBs running Exchange is basically over. Once long-term support ends for Exchange 2010 – on Jan. 14, 2020 – a lot of companies still running that platform are going to be looking to finally make the plunge to Office 365.
“It’s not just migrations, though. Once companies make the move, there are lots of areas they are going to need help with,” offers Bellavance. “Developing for SharePoint Online is a different animal than SharePoint on-premises. Office 365 has cool bells and whistles like Azure Information Protection, Privileged Identity Management and Intune. Implementing good security and best practices on Office 365 is no small feat. Customers are looking to implement these services, and they are going to need the help of partners to get there.”
But offering migrations is easier said than done. It isn’t a quick and easy process by any means, and it involves a lot of customer handholding, walking employees who don’t understand why it’s necessary to learn new processes and technologies through the changes.
“I cannot overstress the importance of proper planning, design and preparation in a migration effort. Doing the hard work upfront is going to ensure a relatively smooth migration and a happier customer,” Bellavance explains. “Part of the preparation has to be training and education of the customer’s staff … I recommend partnering with a training company who can help the organization get ready for and embrace the migration, as opposed to seeing it as yet another case of IT changing things for the sake of changing.”
In Bellavance’s view, that’s one of the biggest potential pitfalls to an Office 365 migration project: the failure to align customer expectations with reality. It’s all about having full transparency on expectations, responsibilities and process. Each project must begin with the partner and customer working together to define its scope and make sure everyone is on the same page. Just as important as technical know-how is top-notch project management skills. With enough preparation and planning on the front end, migrations don’t have to be a nightmare. And really it just takes practice, just like anything. The 10th migration is easier than the first.
Cloud has and is continuing to change the rules of the channel game, upending longstanding business models, erasing once-profitable offerings overnight and altering the nature of the partner-customer relationship. Once a stalwart of managed services in its on-prem days, Office in its SaaS iteration requires a different type of thinking and a different approach to monetization. The good thing is that as long as there are big IT headaches people want to outsource, partners who know how to handle them will always have clients.