You might be forgiven for thinking that cloud services companies and media production firms do not have a great deal in common. But Microsoft reseller TechQuarters would tell you you're wrong.
The London firm began its journey as a Microsoft cloud specialist six years ago and is still dedicated to the technology. However, it has carved itself out a niche which it thinks might well be the future of the company – training videos for the cloud services it sells.
In 2010, encouraged by the way the industry was going, Chris Dunning set up TechQuarters, a specialist in providing Microsoft cloud technology. Since then, the company has grown successfully and racked up a number of happy customers.
Microsoft has been extremely keen to talk up its new cloud focus, thanks to CEO Satya Nadella's "cloud-first, mobile-first" mantra. But not all Microsoft's partners – which have grown with the company as software licence specialists – have been keen, with some customers struggling to keep up too.
This, Dunning (pictured) said, created a massive opportunity for his firm, which as a Born in the Cloud partner was perfectly placed to cash in.
"A year and a half ago I sat on the [Microsoft] cloud Partner Advisory Council in Seattle and the engineers came down from Microsoft and said 'we've got a problem with adoption'," he said.
"I listened intently to the stats they threw out about some workloads not being adopted as much as others. It sounded obvious to me – if you release software and Microsoft is pushing you bullishly to get it sold, you sell it, but the customers are left on their own. They get support from the helpdesk, which is great, but how do we know they're adopting and understanding it and using it properly? So I thought, it's just about training, isn't it?"
With that in mind, he set up a separate section of the business dedicated to training.
The company has converted a meeting room at its Vauxhall office into a studio equipped with top-of-the-range recording equipment and a colourful set designed for demos. The company's staff star in the training videos and produce them internally and some employees translate the videos into French, German and Spanish so they can be accessed by a wider audience. TechQuarters produces about 40 clips a week, which range from short 'hints and tips' videos to longer, detailed 'how to' guides.
The content is packaged up and licensed to customers direct from TechQuarters, via other channel partners, or through distribution.
TechQuarters' chief executive Chris Dunning said the move towards training was a direct result of becoming a Born in the Cloud partner.
Although at the moment there might be a gaping skills gap when it comes to cloud, Dunning acknowledges that customers – and rival resellers – will eventually catch up. But this, he said, will not be a competitive threat to his company – which, perhaps ironically, is helping others get up to speed on cloud.
"Because we are front runners, we are early adopters," he said. "And because of that, our knowledge builds up. [Other resellers] will catch up, but we are constantly moving and changing as a business. If you don't, you're not standing still; you're going backwards. We are inevitably becoming experts at Office 365, but also EMS [Enterprise Mobility Suite] and Azure. We continue to enhance. You can't just immediately switch on your knowledge for the cloud. They will have to catch up, no matter what they do. We took the pain [first, so they will have to too]."
This article forms part of CRN's Born in the Cloud series, which puts the spotlight on resellers that focus solely on selling cloud services. If you describe your company as a Born in the Cloud partner and you would like to take part in the series, please email [email protected].
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