Cloud adoption, managed services and business agility are three of the greatest areas of opportunity for Microsoft partners right now, according to the company’s global One Commercial Partner corporate vice president, Gavriella Schuster.
“Despite the uncertainty that has surrounded us for many months, there are enormous opportunities brought by the challenges we’ve been confronted with,” Schuster said in a blog post. “Businesses have faced a sudden, urgent need to shift to remote working.
“And to accommodate this for their employees, they have accelerated their digital transformation plans, which provides the opportunity to reduce overhead and become more efficient and effective as a business.
“Of course, that also creates opportunities for Microsoft partners to come in with solutions and services that help customers transform,” she added.
One of the top areas of opportunity for partners, according to Schuster, was the area of empowering cloud adoption for businesses of all sizes, with many organisations finding themselves needing to speed up their digital transformation efforts to respond to, and recover from, the fallout of COVID-19.
What this means for Microsoft partners, Schuster claimed, was more opportunity to expand a client base with businesses that not only need the most appropriate tools to do well right now, but also the best long-term strategy to re-imagine the future of their organisation.
“This sets partners up for long-term collaborations where they own the end-to-end customer engagement,” Schuster said. “By helping their customers establish a sustainable funding model to support their cloud investments, partners can ensure the best possible business outcomes.
“By facilitating a combination of technology solutions...that help develop a new operating model, along with more efficient processes, partners can ensure their customers are thriving rather than simply surviving,” she added.
Additionally, a focus on managed services is likely to position partners well to make the most of the opportunities in the market at present, according to Schuster.
The reason why the managed services play makes so much sense at the moment, Schuster argued, was because many businesses are currently a bit uneasy about large up-front costs for IT investments.
As such, presenting a more cost-effective approach to digital transformation through managed services is likely to be a welcome option for many partners’ customers.
With this in mind, now is probably not a bad time for partners to transition to a managed service model that incorporates monthly subscription billing if they haven’t already.
“Customers will appreciate the reduction in overhead while looking to you as trusted advisors rather than simply sellers. Also, adding a managed service practice will help partners build their own business for the long-term,” Schuster said.
Moreover, partners that are in a position to help their customers increase business agility could see additional work come through the pipeline as organisations work to become more nimble following the disruptions of the past year.
“Business leaders are already prioritising agility and resilience to a degree we haven’t seen before,” Schuster said, noting that the best technology companies are proactive rather than reactive.
“Microsoft partners can differentiate by helping their customers harness forward-thinking solutions that generate an ever-evolving model of agility,” she said. “Flexibility is a fundamental component of the complete Microsoft portfolio.”
However, Schuster stressed that while partners should absolutely be focusing on cloud adoption, managed services and business agility as core areas of opportunity, they should not forget the need for marketing and building a strong digital brand.
From Schuster’s perspective, many partners have been quite reasonably caught up in focusing on helping their customers rush to new work and technology environments, or up the ante on pre-existing transformation projects as they work to navigate a substantially disrupted and dynamic market.
For some partners, that rush has seen marketing slip down the list of priorities. But it remains a critical function for any partner. With that initial rush well and truly on the wane, now is the time for partners to once again look closely at their marketing efforts.
“Optimise for the current market conditions, and make sure all the work you do for customers is being seen by your target audience,” Schuster said.