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Baking Microsoft 365 Business into its managed services is this partner’s recipe for success

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ProServeIT uses Microsoft 365 Business to better target the fast-growing small- and medium-sized business customer segment. Company President Eric Sugar says the approach was an immediate success. He expects managed services revenues to climb 10 percent, and margins on those revenues to increase by 12 percent in the first year.

Eric Sugar knows that many small- and medium-sized businesses want to move to the cloud—but hesitate. And he knows why.

“Smaller businesses are only going to move to the cloud if it makes them more secure and cost-effective,” says Sugar, President of ProServeIT, which operates in both Canada and internationally. “Traditionally, we weren’t treating security as a focus with these businesses because it was too expensive for them. Security was affordable for midmarket and larger companies. This kept many smaller businesses from the benefits of the cloud.”

Over the past few years, ProServeIT has come to put “a security lens over everything we do,” says Sugar, but the resulting offerings didn’t always meet the expectations of small- and medium-sized businesses on price and simplicity. For example, customers often had to juggle three or more vendors and their licenses to get the security features they needed, or they might need Microsoft Enterprise Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) priced for larger companies.

Democratizing for the masses security

Now that’s changed, thanks to ProServeIT’s embrace of Microsoft 365 Business. The Microsoft cloud service for small- and medium-sized businesses is an integrated solution that brings together best-in-class productivity tools, security, and device management. ProServeIT has baked Microsoft 365 Business capabilities into its key managed services offerings and Eric Sugar is delighted with the value of Microsoft 365 Business to his customers—and to his own business.

“Microsoft 365 Business has democratized security for the masses,” he says. “It gives our small- and mid-sized customers a compelling reason to migrate to the cloud for greater security, rather than holding back because of security concerns.”

For example, ProServeIT’s customers can use ProServeIT’s managed services with Microsoft 365 Business to secure their data and reduce the risk associated with Bring Your Own Device policies. When an employee leaves a small- or medium-sized organization, it can wipe its data from the employee’s phone without also wiping the employee’s personal data.

"Microsoft 365 Business has democratized security for the masses. It gives our customers a compelling reason to migrate to the cloud for greater security, rather than holding back because of security concerns."

— Eric Sugar, President, ProServeIT

Managed services deliver more revenues, higher margins

ProServeIT has enhanced each of its three key packaged offerings with Microsoft 365 Business to enable customers to get peace of mind from enterprise-grade security services without the enterprise price. In addition to security management, each of the three enhanced managed services offerings includes the following components: proactive monitoring and maintenance (server, network, services), end-user service desk, incident resolution, key metrics and performance data reporting, quarterly and annual reviews, and a virtual CIO service that helps customers manage technology and risk.

ProServeIT’s three key managed services offerings are:

  • ProServeIT Business in a Box—includes Microsoft 365 Business (replacing Office 365 Business Premium), a Surface device, and the managed services components identified above. This offer helps customers to budget and manage their technology on a per-employee cost basis. Customers can work more easily with ProServeIT, and the company, in turn, can manage customer costs and service levels more successfully.
  • ProServeIT Secure Managed Cloud—includes Microsoft 365 Business, the managed services components mentioned above, Azure Active Directory, P1 and one domain controller in Azure. This is a single, security-based SKU that replaces an offer that was built on six products from several vendors, including Microsoft, Kaseya, Ahsay, Lenovo, HP, and Dell. As a result, the secure managed cloud service is easier and more cost-effective for ProServeIT to configure, implement, and maintain. It’s also more reliable, with fewer incidents and greater uptime, which boosts customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • ProServeIT SMB ProtectIT—includes Microsoft 365 Business and Intune for mobile device and application management and the managed services components mentioned above. It replaces an offer based on Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EM+S). Given that EM+S is an enterprise SKU, this offer gives smaller businesses a more affordable option for security coverage. It also gives ProServeIT an offer that’s more sharply focused on the small- and medium-sized market, so ProServeIT can better serve its current smaller customers and help ensure their security and productivity. Because the offer is more attractive to smaller customers, it makes it easier for ProServeIT to acquire new customers in that segment.

“Small- and medium-sized businesses need Microsoft 365 Business, and when you explain it to them, they understand it. That's why it's such a powerful tool for our customers' success, as well as our own.”

— Eric Sugar, President, ProServeIT

Sugar anticipates that the added appeal of these managed services around Microsoft 365 Business will increase managed services revenues by 10 percent. He also expects that, by using Microsoft 365 Business to deliver and manage services more cost-effectively, ProServeIT will increase managed services margins by 10 percent. For example, technologies including Windows AutoPilot and the Admin Center console make it faster and easier to deploy installations and updates and manage consistent security configurations across mobile applications and devices. With the Microsoft Admin Center, for example, the management of Windows and security across devices is now achieved via “a simple, single pane of glass.” He also points to the reduction in security incidents, such as rooted devices, among Microsoft 365 Business customers as a factor in the reduced cost of servicing those customers.

How to sell to the ideal customer

Sugar says one of the most important elements a partner needs to include in its business plan is how to educate smaller customers and prospects on the advantages of the cloud with Microsoft 365 Business to offer better and more cost-effective security than they can achieve on their own. His solution is using webinars, newsletters, and email campaigns, rather than relying on seminars or other group meetings that he uses to promote other services. The reason: small owners and executives are reluctant to talk about their security concerns in front of others in group settings.

This approach to customer education is a success for ProServeIT. Sugar notes that his click-through rate on email for Microsoft 365 Business is 25 percent compared to an average 6 to 7 percent for his other click-throughs.

“Small- and medium-sized businesses need Microsoft 365 Business, and when you explain it to them, they get it,” he says. “That’s why it’s such a powerful tool for our customers’ success, as well as our own.”