IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Microsoft 365—The Next-Level Opportunity

You don’t need to become an SME in the entire Microsoft 365 platform. Start small, pick easy wins, and move up from there. By Schyler Jones

AS SERVICE PROVIDERS, we face the continual challenge of differentiating from our competitors, especially as the products and services we provide reach a point of commoditization. Meeting this challenge requires us to observe, experience, acquire knowledge, and adapt so that we may survive, and hopefully thrive. Now the next pivot for MSPs is adding value to Microsoft 365 rather than just selling licenses.

MiradorIT has migrated nearly all our existing customers to Microsoft 365, and new prospects are often already there in some form or fashion, so it is becoming another commodity. More and more service providers are signed up as CSPs and include Microsoft 365 licenses in their packages, and tech-savvy employees at some prospects have already migrated themselves and are performing basic administration of their own 365 tenant.

To add value for our customers and opportunity for our business model, we need to embrace Microsoft’s vision for the modern workplace and the all-in-one package that enables that vision. The Microsoft 365 platform has the potential power to enable businesses and employees to work and collaborate from any location, on any device, while maintaining the safety and security of users, data, and devices. In short, Microsoft 365 is a business operating system.

Adopt Principles of the Modern Workplace

So how do we execute on the opportunity that is Microsoft 365? Start by adopting the principles of the modern workplace into your company culture and choose areas to develop subject matter expertise.

For MiradorIT, the first step was embracing the principles in our mission statement. At regular staff meetings I advise, and continuously reinforce, the idea that we need to fully immerse ourselves in Microsoft 365–we need to eat, breathe, and sleep it. We need to proactively learn how to use it, implement it for our own purposes, and be able to explain and demonstrate the possibilities with clients and prospects. We need to generate excitement among customers and prospects that will lead to opportunities.

The next step is developing the expertise. We all know what a behemoth Microsoft 365 is; mastering and conquering even parts of it is intimidating. However, as with any complicated project, break the platform down into bite-size chunks, and choose specific focus areas in which to develop expertise. MiradorIT, for example, is focusing on:

  • Management and Security
  • Functionality and Productivity
  • Workflow Automation

Keep in mind that you don’t need to become an SME in the entire Microsoft 365 platform. Start small, pick easy wins, and move up from there. And don’t hesitate to partner with like-minded providers that can help fill gaps in your own abilities. MiradorIT engaged with fellow service provider Noverus Innovations, based in Roseville, Calif., to gain expertise in the types of Microsoft 365-based solutions customers can benefit from.

Management and Security

Management and security of users, data, and devices have always been important functions, and they've been our bread and butter for the better part of the last three decades. But now the tools Microsoft has placed at our fingertips vastly improve our abilities to control how an organization’s devices are used, including desktop PCs, laptops, mobile phones, and tablets—regardless of who owns them. This is far different from our days managing Small Business Server. We are no longer dependent on on-prem Active Directory with Group Policies to configure and manage Windows-only devices, and third-party systems to manage mobile and non-Windows devices. Even when employees are using personal devices, we can still protect an organization’s data by isolating corporate data from personal data.

For this focus area, look to develop expertise in Microsoft Endpoint Manager, including Microsoft Intune, Configuration Manager, Desktop Analytics, and Windows Autopilot.

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