While nothing has changed with respect to the outcomes end user customers want to achieve with modern workplace solutions, almost everything about the way those solutions are delivered and managed has changed. This makes it more important than ever for resellers to build their competency in applications and cloud services, as Darren Dixon, Microsoft Business Unit Manager at Tech Data, explains
Everything seems to have been turned upside down over the past few months. Business travel and with it, mobile working, i.e. actually working while we are on the move or between locations, has become almost non-existent. All meetings and events have gone virtual. For now, at least, everyone who can do so, works at home.
Even when we can move around and interact with complete freedom once again, many of these changes will endure. The future workplace is going to be a hybrid one. Many people will work at home for two, three, or perhaps even four days a week. While teams of colleagues will still get together on a regular basis, it's almost certain that some of them will join over a virtual platform.
The stakes have been raised
For end user customers, this has made the smooth, slick, seamless and efficient operation that modern workplace solution promises to deliver even more urgent and important.
With everyone working at a distance, scheduling and planning, access to apps and data, the ability to share and work together, meet compliancy requirements, and stay totally secure while doing all this, has become much more mission-critical. In the new hybridised modern workplace, the stakes have been raised. Customers depend on their technology to give them the frictionless, faultless, easy communications and seamless collaboration that it can and should give them, all of the time.
During the pandemic we have seen a massive uplift in the use of Microsoft Teams and a huge migration to Microsoft 365 and Azure-based applications, especially for business contingency and unified communications. There is much stronger uptake of the Dynamics 365 business management platform as well. Adoption of Windows Virtual Desktop has soared.
The foundation for all of these solutions - and the new hybrid way of working - is the cloud. And while it's absolutely the case that some organisations do still have workloads they want to keep on-premises, the majority now want to move most of their apps and services into the cloud. But when they do, they want to make sure that the platform they choose is reliable, trusted, and secure.
Shifting the goalposts
For reseller partners this has shifted the goalposts. The outcomes customers want - increased productivity, easy and effective collaboration, and assured compliance and protection - are the same as they ever were. Nothing has changed in that respect. Yet everything has changed in terms of the applications ecosystem and the infrastructure that delivers those outcomes.
Resellers need to be able to provide solutions and services that will support the new hybrid working practices that are already being adopted. To do that, they need more competency and capability than ever. To make accurate assessments of customer needs, manage migrations to the cloud efficiently, provide accurate and professional billing, and meet the support and service needs of their customers.
These are not capabilities resellers can just pick up and learn on the fly. They require a degree of knowledge and understanding and reliable automation. To acquire the skills they need, they must invest time in training and gaining the ability, confidence and ultimately, the accreditations that will certify them as competent providers of managed and cloud solutions. They will also need to adopt a different kind of sales process, and have an effective way of monitoring, managing, supporting, and billing customers.
It means turning the whole business model upside down.
Until they can develop their own capabilities, resellers are going to be reliant to some degree on their supplier and service provider partners to fill the gaps. That's fine for now, but it's not a situation they will want to persist with for too long. Resellers will want to be capable of looking after their own customers. Whilst having access to solutions and cloud experts with higher levels of technical knowledge will be always be welcome, eventually resellers will want to be as independent and self-sufficient as possible.
They need to attain the skills and competencies that will allow them to do that as soon as they can, because customers are already embracing hybrid ways of working. If you are ready to make a start, Tech Data has a tried and tested programme for Microsoft Modern Workplace solutions that will take you on a transformational journey and enable you to develop a successful managed services and cloud business.
Follow our interactive guide and create your Cloud journey here
This article has been published in partnership with Tech Data