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Office 365: Microsoft M/CSPs taking reporting and consumption into their own hands

Office 365: Microsoft M/CSPs taking reporting and consumption into their own hands
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It’s one thing to be a reseller, get an order for Office 365, and get your customer a portal set up and their users in the cloud. It’s another thing for those users to consume whole-heartedly the new set of communication and collaboration tools now placed at their fingertips. And without consumption, the need for higher priced license types (E3 for example) become an unnecessary expense. In addition, Office 365 doesn’t provide easy visibility into the ways an organization and its users are using Office 365. On the admin side there are PowerShell scripts you can run to gather intel and automate tasks to a degree, but let’s face it, PowerShell is more an old-school admins sandbox. Many Office 365 “admins” are office power users that have been “promoted” (so to speak) as caretakers of the Office 365 environment and frankly, they don’t want to learn command line stuff.

There is a solid investment going into Office 365 by organizations but there is still that gap on getting the most out of it. That’s where Microsoft M/CSPs (Managed/Cloud Service Providers) are creatively finding ways to go beyond simply selling licenses into the cloud-based platform, they’re adding value to it… and doing it for low or no cost as a means of remaining competitive. And that’s key for service providers, to provide the most value, offer help desk support, managed services and so on.

One such organization is Boca Raton (FL) based company MessageOps (a cloud-business unit of Champion). They’ve just built a solution called Inscape365 as a means of adding additional management and reporting to Office 365. It bypasses the need for PowerShell so admins can quickly (through a GUI) gain insight into how users are using Office 365. With 50+ reports, onboard/offboard wizards and a variety of other features that benefit admins, they are making the administrative side easier in Office 365. At the same time, they are delivering other solutions to provide improved monitoring, adoption,  and end-user training, which will certainly help drive more consumption of all the new communication and collaboration aspects of Office 365 (like Teams, Planner, and so on). And for those folks who are already customers of MessageOps, buying Office 365 licenses through them, the bolt-on Inscape365 solution is free.  And anyone can start a 14-day free trial.

It’s not enough to simply sell seats any longer. You need to provide more value in today’s world. And whether you do that by bundling a suite of additional hand-picked solutions together to form a bolt-on buffet of Office 365 enhanced security, management, reporting, training and so on… or build your own solution from the ground up to better serve existing/potential customers… it’s essential to differentiate your offering from the next M/CSP and provide value beyond what comes through Microsoft.

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Co-founder of and Microsoft Office 365 MVP, InfoWorld columnist (Enterprise Windows), and Mimecast consultant.

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