Today’s guest blogger is Christopher Hertz, founder and CEO of New Signature, an IT consulting firm that provides IT solutions to more than 300 clients. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., New Signature works with organizations of all sizes including small- and mid-sized, enterprise, and public sector customers.
Hurricane Sandy was an eye-opener for many businesses, especially those on the East Coast, who witnessed firsthand the challenges of keeping an on-premises IT environment up-and-running during a natural disaster. After Hurricane Sandy, a steady stream of small- and mid-sized customers moved to the cloud in an effort to improve their business continuity.
Our small business customers have adopted Office 365 the most quickly. Larger enterprises have tended to move to Office 365 more slowly because of their more complex business requirements. They tend to adopt the cloud in phases, often first migrating employees in a single region or business department before deciding to move all of their information workers to the cloud. Overall, we’ve seen a lot of traction among large enterprises across all sectors — even those that were once reluctant such as the legal and financial industries.
To date, we’ve helped about 150 customers implement Office 365. While the majority had been using on-premise software, over a dozen have switched from Google Apps for Business. Our customers tell us they love Office 365 because it offers top value for the dollar. Here are the many ways Office 365 advances their businesses:
- A unified platform that significantly boosts productivity: It’s not just Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, or Lync Online by itself that’s significant to our customers. It’s how all of these products work together as a unified platform that clients find compelling. Together, these products provide an extensible productivity and collaboration platform that help our clients save significant time and effort. Google Apps is a bunch of consumer services that have been cobbled together to work for businesses. Most of our customers who evaluate Google Apps realize that pretty quickly. They choose Office 365 because it offers them a unified platform to perform their jobs effectively.
- The ability to be productive right out of the gate: The main reason our customers abandon Google Apps is that they struggle with how to use it at work. When companies adopt Google Apps, they’ve usually over-estimated what Google Apps can do and underestimated how much experience their employees have with Microsoft Office. With Office 365, organizations don’t have to pay for training because their employees already know how to use it. With a move to Google Apps, all of that knowledge is lost. The business productivity and IT service desk costs eventually add up, driving organizations back to Microsoft Office.
- Enterprise-level support: Some of our customers have left Google Apps complaining of bad customer service. When it comes to enterprise applications such as email and documents, a self-service model quickly becomes a detriment. Google is still struggling to develop a culture of customer service. By contrast, Microsoft has a long record of enterprise-level support services. Microsoft offers 24/7 technical phone support for solving critical issues within all of its business plans. It also offers email support, virtual chat support, pre-sales support, and account and billing support.
- Lower capital and administrative costs: IT professionals often embrace Office 365 because of their desire to eliminate routine maintenance tasks. Under pressure to cut costs, many IT professionals want to turn their departments from a cost center into a more strategic department that helps the business gain a competitive advantage. With Office 365, IT departments no longer have to spend money on servers or storage, or do all that’s required to maintain and manage an on-premises IT environment. This frees up IT professionals to serve a more strategic role in the organization and focus on moving their business forward.
- Access to the latest Microsoft technology: Another advantage of Office 365 is that it gives organizations access to the latest and greatest Microsoft technology as soon as it emerges. Customers receive access to updates as soon as they’re developed, allowing them to take advantage of all the new innovation coming out of Microsoft. What’s more, they never overpay for technology because they’re only paying for what they use. If they’re not ready for it, they don’t have to use it. And if they are ready, they have a great many capabilities available to them at low cost.
These are just a few of the ways in which Office 365 provides top value. In fact, I’ve never known an instance in which it made more financial sense for a company to remain on-premises. There may be business reasons for doing so, but from a financial standpoint, migrating to the cloud is always the best move. For organizations that make that decision, Office 365 truly offers the best value and the most complete solution — one that can significantly transform their business.