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Marching Orders 2016: Act on Office 365 E5 and CSP

Editor's Note: Throughout the month of January, we'll be running installments of Marching Orders, our annual collection of advice and predictions from channel luminaries about what to do and what to expect in the year ahead. For this entry, we invited Cindy Bates, Microsoft's vice president of U.S. Small and Medium-Sized Business & Distribution (SMB&D), to point to some opportunities for Microsoft partners.

We start 2016 with the mantra, "The power is in your hands." There are more opportunities available to partners and customers than ever before, and new innovations are coming at a rapid pace, whether they're new cross-platform plays like Office 365 on iPads or with the new Office 365 SKU, E5.

E5 brings new value through the most comprehensive set of productivity, collaboration, analytics, security and compliance capabilities in Office 365 to date. (Read more about it here or watch this video.)

We expect the SKU will fill gaps in SMB solutions, particularly as a PBX replacement option. I think E5 should be a great opportunity for all of us, whether you focus on upselling cloud voice and conferencing capabilities, or reaching new customers with advanced security and compliance features, or building practices around new scenarios.

In the year ahead, the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program will continue to enable the partners of the future. The model of a successful partner has moved away from those who are simply transacting. Profitability and long-term success lie in building managed services provider (MSP) practices and ultimately integrating unique, repeatable and highly profitable intellectual property into your solutions.

With the CSP program, you have the ability to sell and provision solutions such as Office 365, Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), Azure and CRMOL. However, simply selling the products is just the beginning. After packaging up your deployment and migration services and adding in ongoing managed services and support, you will have created a recurring revenue stream that keeps you engaged with your customers.

In recent years, changing market dynamics have forced partners to elevate marketing to mission-critical status. Thanks to the current SMB tech revolution, there's unprecedented opportunity to take advantage of long-term annuity business. Yet, competition has grown on both a national and local level, and recent surveys show that as many as 90 percent of technology products or professional services sourcing begins with a search engine. Through the Ready-to-Go marketing portal, Microsoft offers a wealth of resources to help partners stand out among competitors and generate more leads. Within that portal, I would specifically call out our highly successful SMB Live training events, which help partners hone their marketing skills selling to small and midsize businesses.

More Marching Orders 2016:

Posted on January 21, 2016 at 10:41 AM