Don’t you just love what people post on YouTube?
Chris Knight left a comment on my recent post about why I am positive on Office365. His major points are that firstly, here in Australia, BPOS (and Office365) is sold through our largest Telco (Telstra). They are aggressively going after service business including your clients. No arguments there. Secondly, there is virtually no margin in BPOS for resellers. Again, no argument. This is EXACTLY why I love resellers when it comes to BPOS, they have a restricted business model when it comes to online services.
Here in Australia we know that Telstra is the 600 pound gorilla when it comes to BPOS. So many resellers I see are hell bent on opposing the gorilla. My approach is, they are the only game in town and I have to deal with that. In my books it is better to ride the gorilla than try and fight it. Sure, I might get some bruises and scratches but it is going to be a hell of lot less than if I tried to fight it. Wouldn’t a smarter thing be to team up with Telstra and offer skills and services they lack? Wouldn’t be smarter to leverage their sales teams to do the lead generation for you? Telcos are good at selling phones and are looking for IT people to help them sell technology to customers. If you were a smart operator you’d seek out these relationships to help build your online business. I know I am. The interesting to note here is that there is only a limited amount of these relationships available so those that choose to ride the gorilla are going to reap the benefits I believe.
By far the biggest sticking point for resellers is the lack of margin on BPOS. Couldn’t agree more. Can you change that? Nope. So why focus on it? I believe the major revenue stream with BPOS and ‘cloud computing’ is what it has always been – SERVICES. Customers still need IT Professionals to set up, configure, architect and support technology solutions no matter where they ultimately reside. The only way that your business will make money from selling product is to sell lots and lots of it no matter whether it is infrastructure or online services. I know that is a game I can’t play so that’s why I focus on SERVICES.
For many, including myself, this means a change of business model but in this game if you don’t change you die. The resistance of most traditional resellers to move to some form of cloud strategy is creating a gap in the market that is allowing competitors to enter and potentially steal business. These new competitors probably don’t have the experience, knowledge or professionalism that existing resellers have but guess what? They are still going to win business. Why? Rightly or wrongly customers want ‘cloud’ computing because it is being portrayed as saving them money. No matter whether that is correct it is what the customer perceives that matters.
Let me give you an example of a service opportunity in relation of Office365 I see. From my understanding the small business edition of Office365 will come with 3 web sites, an intranet, an extranet and a public facing website. Guess what? They’ll all be provided on SharePoint 2010. Most customers will probably need these to be configured, customized and managed because they won’t have the time or the knowledge. To me that means SERVICES revenue and I’m sure the same applies across all the other Office365 products.
As I have said before, it warms the cockles of my heart to hear resellers focus on dealing with telcos and how little margin there is in selling online services for I know they still don’t ‘get it’. You can’t expect to go into the world of online services with the same business model (no matter how well it worked previously). You have to change, adapt and overcome. This will mean making hard decisions, that in the short term may be quite painful. However, as a business person I encourage you NOT to take these, keep doing business the way you have been doing things and leave this ‘cloud stuff’ to me.
Recently Microsoft announced an upgrade to BPOS. It is being revamped and renamed to Office 365. If you haven’t seen the announcement then it is worthwhile taking a look.
I think that this a major step forward for the product. I continually hear resellers criticize BPOS, pointing to all its failing and I have no argument with the fact that it is far from perfect. Most of these people are comparing to mature on-site technologies like Small Business Server (SBS). They are overlooking the fact that the online offerings from Microsoft are still version 1 (maybe even still beta realistically). To be truly fair you should be comparing to SBS 4.0 rather than SBS 2008.
The other thing that I find most interesting about these people’s attitudes is how they don’t realize how short sighted they are being. They continue to pick apart Microsoft online offerings, pointing to how it doesn’t do this, how it doesn’t do that and how the products they use are so much better.
Let’s come at this from another angle. Let me ask you this question – who wouldn’t want to be able to offer more product options to their customers? Who wouldn’t want to be able to offer more product options to prospects? Hmmmm…I think most ‘business’ people would certainly welcome more product options in their suite.
Let’s assume that you do a great job for your clients and their technology. Let’s assume that all your peers also do stellar work for their clients. Great. Does that cover every potential business using technology out there? Hardly. It probably represents some minute fraction of the potential market. What happens when a new prospect, who already has a cloud solution, comes to you seeking your services? Are you going to turn them away because you don’t do ‘cloud’? Are you going to tell them they have to dump the ‘cloud’ and go back to implementing infrastructure on premises?
I certainly hope you are. Why? Because it means more market share for me. I run a business and if you can’t services these clients then I am happy to do so no matter where they are. Yes, you read right – no matter where they are. I can achieve this with ‘cloud’ services can I not?
I’ll have plenty to say about Office365 in upcoming posts but I’m on board because I know it is only going to improve. The jump from BPOS to Office365 proves that, imagine what the next improvement will be? I can hardly wait to get my teeth into Office 365 and start offering it to clients AND prospects. Office365 is simply another ‘product’ that you can make money around. If you are not prepared to do so someone else certainly will (but if you send them my way I’ll pay you a finders fee at least).
Even though I’ve now returned from SMBNation I’ve decided to extend the discount on my SharePoint Operations Guide (www.wssops.com) for a little while longer. To get a 10% discount via the SMB Books site use the following details:
Checkout code = tour2010
I’ll also let you know that after some discussions I am now working on a few new products for the guide. One example will be a book on ‘5 essential SharePoint projects’. This will take you step by step through a range of SharePoint customization projects that can be applied to any SharePoint site. If you are a Guide subscriber you’ll get these for free as part of your subscription. Otherwise they’ll be a separate purchase.
Remember, if you have any questions about my SharePoint Guide or suggestions about what you would like to see please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org). Also the above code is only valid for a short time, so if you have been thinking about getting the guide now is the time!
The details of the podcast are:
http://www.ciaops.com/n2k – Episode 7 = 65MB (70 mins)
or via direct download:
Vlad and I discuss cloud technology and where business is headed for the SMB.
So let me know what you think and if you are interested on being on the show please also contact me (email@example.com) as I am always looking for people to talk about business and technology.
Stay tuned as there plenty of great episodes coming real soon.
It seems that there are issues when you try and install Office Web Apps onto SBS 7. In many cases it breaks the remote functionality in SBS. Damm. The solution is an apparent upcoming white paper from Microsoft that explains what you need to do.
Now I haven’t seen the white paper and have no idea when we are likely to see it but I am disappointed that this is happening. I know it is beta code and early in the product cycle but surely on of the major reasons to want SharePoint 2010 in the SMB space is to have the ability to install Office Web Apps.
As I said in a previous post I was seeing issues around Search Server Express 2010 and Office Web Apps on SBS 7 and that wasn’t good. In my opinion both of these products should seamlessly install on SBS 7 and I would even suggest that Search Server Express 2010 should be included on SBS 7 by default.
Alas, not the case. I’ll keep you updated with what I find now I am getting back into the swing of things but at this stage WAIT for the white paper from Microsoft on how to successfully install Office Web Apps on SBS 7.
I would have liked to do a day by day blow of the conference but alas, my blog server was down so this summary will have to do.
I think that this year’s event was certainly a step up from last year’s event. Firstly, the Flamingo Hotel was a far better location. Being in the centre of the strip near all the major hotel is much better. The second major improvement was the WiFi. This year it actually worked and I never had any problems connecting to it while I was at the conference. This is really something when you think of all the people there and all the devices they were connecting to the Internet. I also think that the vendor hall was much better this year. Last year it look pretty bare given the size of the room but this year it seemed much busier.
I was a little surprised that the vendor hall was over at the end of day 2. I understand why but I think many others like me expected it to be open till the end of the conference.
As for the sessions the stand out was Dana Epp’s on hacking WiFi. I think that everyone in the room can now really appreciate how easy it is to hack even secure WiFi. It was something Dana says that he’ll never present again so it was special to actually see him take over people’s Hotmail and Gmail accounts live.
The sessions on the upcoming versions of SBS were well attended as was the MVP panel. There was plenty of stuff on the Cloud with Dave Sobel’s interactive session a very interesting argument for how Cloud solutions can really replace on-site implementations.
I didn’t get to many business session this year but heard that it was a bit of a hit and miss affair. Some were very good others left something to be desired.
As for my session (Why SharePoint is Critical to SMB), well I am happy to report that it was well attended (as much as I tried to discouraged people from attending they still did). If you want the slides from the presentation they are available at www.ciaops.com/downloads or directly from this link.
However, by far the greatest gain you can obtain from being at SMBNation is the ‘hallway networking’. There are just so many smart people here with all different business models and ways of getting results that you’d be mad if you didn’t take advantage of that. Even after the conference day, being here is an opportunity to have dinner with these people and pick their brains.
I certainly hope that I get the opportunity to return and thank Harry Brelsford and his dedicated staff for putting on such a great event.
A few weeks ago I took some time off (as I am now committed to doing every year as part of a better work life balance) and typically the technology let me down. A few days out the power supply on my local Hyper-V machine blew and not only brought the machine down but also the UPS it was connected to. Impressive eh? Not much I could do until I returned.
Firstly, the reason that I have a local SharePoint server is that I typically need to test things at the command prompt level and most SharePoint hosting companies don’t allow this. I could host a complete server in a data centre but then it is isn’t quite the same as running a Hyper V server with different operating systems now is it? Bottom line, I maintain a single server mostly for testing purposes but it does provide content live to the web. Thus, no power supply, no blog.
Now that I have returned from my trip and SMB Nation Fall 2010 I can catch up on all those posts I didn’t do when I was away.
Stand by – normal transmission will resume shortly.