In keeping with the tradition of building community around key technology for IT pros and the channel to leverage for their SMB customers, SMB Nation just launched Office 365 Nation (www.o365nation.com). The new community will be open and dedicated to Office 365 enthusiasts and practitioners, says Harry Brelsford, founder and chairman of SMB Nation Inc., Bainbridge Island, Wash. “It’s a community surrounding a product stack,” he explains.
In a related move, SMB Nation’s annual fall conference in September will focus on Office 365.
“We preach innovation. Everybody should constantly be reinventing themselves, and we’re no different,” he says. “So now we are trying to create a collaborative community around Office 365, and this came from a lot of feedback from events that we do, where people are saying, ‘I have more questions than answers, and I need a concise way to get help and collaborate with people.’”
Brelsford says it’s the same grass roots approach that was used to build SMB Nation and community support around Microsoft Small Business Server. He adds, “We’ve done the same with Telephonation over on the VoIP side, so it’s déjà vu all over again. “ Like Telephonation, Office 365 Nation goes beyond the traditional SMB Nation community to IT pros as well as the channel, he adds.
With the end of SBS and the emergence of cloud and mobility, culture and business models are changing, he says. Experienced IT pros and resellers have a chance to reinvent themselves for the next decade. With the new services and subscription business model, “I don’t think our guys need to think of it as ‘Honey, I Shrunk My Paycheck.’ It’s a different business model, and you can actually play to your strengths right now [using] your business acumen and wisdom that you’ve acquired with a few hard knocks over the last decade or two.”
Brelsford says he would encourage senior professionals to offer Office 365 as a platform and start thinking about “leveraging the technology to increase sales, not just perform a traditional back office function. “
Office 365 Nation will also benefit from younger IT pros participating who are digital natives and “coming in without barriers and boundaries. Sometimes those with too much experience have to get out of their own way.”
The new community will synthesize and aggregate relevant news, foster conversation around the technology, and offer learning activities.