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Microsoft Customers 'Overwhelmed,' Creating Consulting Opportunities

By Edward Gately
June 28, 2016 - News
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Edward Gately

Microsoft partners are seeing Office 365 technology updates, refreshes and changes outpacing their customers’ ability to keep up with them.

That’s according to harmon.ie’s second-annual report on the transition to the cloud for Microsoft partners. “The Evolving Microsoft Cloud: Opportunities and Challenges for Microsoft Ecosystem Partners" is based on an April survey of more than 200 Microsoft partners globally.

David Lavenda, harmon.ie’s vice president of product strategy, tells Channel Partners the goal of the report was to revisit last year’s survey and see “how far the cloud has changed the partner’s world since last year."

harmon.ie's David Lavenda“Last year, the big news was how the move from on-premises to the cloud was impacting the partner’s business vis-a-vis things like server patches and upgrades," he said. “The opportunity uncovered last year was around migration-consulting services at the business level. This year, the big news is that organizations are starting to feel the benefits but also the downside of rapid product refreshes. The big news for partners is that this is an opportunity to help close the gap between new technology/infrastructure and the customers’ ability to take advantage/adapt to the changes."

More than one in four respondents said cloud migration would account for more than half of their business by 2017, a 62 percent increase over 2015. Partners said the majority of their customer base would move “some portion of their productivity services" to the cloud/Office 365 in the next 12 months, with 95 percent indicating they would move some percentage of their email and Office applications, 92 percent with online meetings, 93 percent with file sharing and 91 percent with Skype for Business. This likely represents customers testing the waters with Office 365 before deciding whether to commit to the cloud, according to the report.

Some 55 percent of respondents plan to add cloud management services, including cloud identity management, to their portfolios in 2016.

Cost still is a significant factor, with 56 percent reporting it as a primary reason for their customers to adopt Office 365. However, its importance has been reduced, with 69 percent of partners reporting customers now place greater value on access to the latest versions of applications for all users. Additionally, faster refreshes also are an increased priority at 30 percent, which represents a 45 percent growth over last year’s survey.

As companies seek cloud services that are easily consumed, partners see an opportunity to build user-friendly services around Office 365, with 31 percent adding services to address and enhance the user experience. Additionally, 24 percent cite such services as having the greatest potential for revenue growth, a 148 percent increase over 2015, according to the report.

Compliance and information governance now are front and center on the partner and customer agenda, with partners focusing on ...

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