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Gartner to Office 365 Partners: Go Vertical and Enhance Teams, Graph, Cortana and Power BI

Microsoft recently posted the full text of a lengthy report on Office 365 by independent analysts at Gartner. In it, Gartner's Craig Roth, Joe Mariano, Michael Woodbridge and Steve Crawford analyze Office 365 for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).

The whole report is worth reading for a lot of insights on the technology, market forces and usage trends. Of special note to the Microsoft channel are the lengthy sections on the Office 365 partner and ISV ecosystems. After leveling criticism at Microsoft's previous approaches, including direct sales under the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) and the syndication program, Gartner repeatedly lauds Microsoft's Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) approach as a solid strategy and notes that 20,000 partners have signed up as CSPs.

For now, Gartner notes that the migration market is booming. Yet the analysts warn that growth, while still in double digits, has settled down considerably. Those partners looking for the next wave of opportunity and attention need to go vertical or align with strategic technologies being surfaced in Office 365, the analysts say.

Key quote:

To succeed, channel partners will need to create differentiation by industry focus or some other specialty, and bundle this differentiation in the form of value-added services for Office 365 and other Microsoft cloud services. There will be ample migration, training, change management, integration and other opportunities as large enterprises move from on-premises Exchange to the cloud. And new ways of working will present plenty of lucrative opportunities for nontechnical change management: helping organizations shift how they create content, communicate and collaborate.

The analysts also suggest that ISVs and other Microsoft partners are likely to get noticed in a crowded field by developing applications and solutions that highlight strategically important technologies within Office 365: "Attaching to emergent portions of the suite (such as Teams, Microsoft Graph, Cortana and Power BI) becomes doubly compelling."

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 25, 2017