South African resellers that want to drive higher profits from reselling the Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based productivity suite need to focus on developing a compelling set of value-added solutions and services for their clients. Such potential offerings include technical support, migration, activation services and complementary software.
That’s the word from Vinay Hiralall, general manager: Demand Generation at Tarsus On Demand, one of South Africa’s largest Microsoft Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs). He says that Microsoft’s channel structure for Office 365 leaves plenty of room for resellers to bulk up their margins by offering value-added services.
“Microsoft depends on its partnership ecosystem – including CSPs like Tarsus On Demand and our resellers – to provide the additional services companies need to support their migration to cloud-based productivity apps,” says Hiralall. “The margins on reselling the basic Office 365 suite are modest, but the profits on value-added services can be highly attractive.
Some examples of the way that resellers can add value for Office 365 business users include:
- Deployment and activation services: Office 365 resellers can play a valuable role in helping clients with the initial deployment of the software to their end-users, including help with configuration and identity & access management.
- Migration solutions: Many clients value the support of a reseller in migrating legacy data to the cloud platform in a manner that minimises disruption to their end-users and operations.
- Managed services: With the migration to the cloud, companies are starting to reduce the size of their IT support teams. This creates the opportunity for the seller to provide technical support and consulting as part of the package it sells.
- Vertical and horizontal solutions: One of the best ways for resellers to add value in the Office 365 space is to package it as part of a larger business solution. For example, it could be bundled with fibre access and telephony services as a collaboration solution, or the reseller could develop or resell accounting or CRM solutions with hooks into the Office 365 software. Other possibilities include developing SharePoint and other templates for vertical industries.
- Risk and compliance consulting: Many customers will have questions about data privacy, data retention, backups and business continuity, and information security as they migrate towards the cloud. Office 365 partners can help them to understand how adopting the software will affect their compliance status and how they can minimise the technical and operational risks of moving to the cloud.
“A good place for an Office 365 reseller to start when determining how to add value is by examining the productivity challenges its customers are facing. Do they have gaps in their skills base? Are there additional products and services on the market that could help them boost business performance?” says Hiralall.
“From here, the dealer can find ways to differentiate its offering. It’s also important to partner with a CSP that can offer additional support in the form of planning, implementation, and procurement expertise and cloud tools. For example, a good CSP should be able to offer automated provisioning tools or migration solutions that that help resellers to satisfy their clients’ needs, as well as a second line of technical support.”