As the Microsoft Teams collaboration app has exploded in usage this year, solution providers have been “central” to the growth and have been finding multiple routes to driving major revenue from Teams, Microsoft Channel Chief Gavriella Schuster told CRN USA.
Teams—which is now utilized by countless companies and schools to enable remote work and learning--is part of Microsoft’s Office 365 productivity suite. As such, licensing revenue from Teams is hard to come by, because so many businesses are already licensed to use Office 365.
But solution providers have found a wide array of routes to driving revenue by helping customers with Teams—from deployment, to advisory services, to managed services and more, Schuster said in an interview conducted over email with CRN USA.
“Some companies are using Teams for the first time and need help with that initial deployment and user training,” said Schuster, corporate vice president for Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner organization. “Others may have already made that shift to remote work and are now more focused on how to drive meaningful team collaboration.”
A number of solution provider executives recently spoke with CRN USA about revenue and profitability opportunities with Microsoft Teams—including David Ellis, vice president of collaboration at Tacoma, Wash.-based Continuant.
Continuant’s revenue related to Teams is expected to surge by up to 50 percent in 2020 compared with last year. “What’s so attractive with Teams is that there are so many revenue streams for a company like ours,” Ellis said.
Schuster said that numerous Microsoft partners have developed their own solutions that “expand the collaboration environment” inside of Teams, while others have developed apps that “facilitate workflow or encapsulate industry specific scenarios such as patient care.”
“Many other partners help the customer to manage the compliance, governance and usage of Teams within their organization as a managed set of services,” Schuster said.
What follows are Schuster’s comments to CRN on the revenue opportunities for partners from Microsoft Teams.
How much success has Microsoft seen at helping solution provider partners to drive revenue and profitability with Teams?
Microsoft has seen 75 million daily active users using Teams (as of April 2020), up from 20 million in late 2019, and partners have been central to that. Organizations are finding tremendous value in bringing new workstyles and touchpoints together into a cohesive collaboration platform. In fact, the current per-user partner opportunity at an enterprise customer is 54 percent larger than when Microsoft 365 launched (teamwork up 128 percent).
As we saw the continued growth of Teams, Microsoft put a number of special offers in place to help partners drive Teams usage. We’ve created partner incentives and advanced specializations to highlight partners’ expertise in Teams.
The most recent growth, for both enterprise and SMB opportunities, has largely been driven by the increased importance of Microsoft Teams as the hub for collaboration. Meeting and calling have become areas of greater focus, and voice solutions have become more mainstream.
What does Microsoft see as the biggest ways for solution providers to generate revenue from Teams?
There are four main delivery areas a partner can focus on with Teams: deployment, advisory and adoption services, business solutions, and managed services. Some companies are using Teams for the first time and need help with that initial deployment and user training. Others may have already made that shift to remote work and are now more focused on how to drive meaningful team collaboration. This connected collaboration experience with Teams represents the largest and fastest expanding Microsoft 365 opportunity for partners. Many partners have developed solutions that expand the collaboration environment within Teams, others have developed applications that facilitate workflow or encapsulate industry specific scenarios such as patient care. And many other partners help the customer to manage the compliance, governance and usage of Teams within their organization as a managed set of services. Part of the benefit of teamwork is that it provides partners with a wide variety of opportunities — especially if they also offer meeting and calling services.
What are some of the emerging ways for partners to drive revenue from Teams, which maybe aren’t the biggest right now, but could become bigger going forward?
Partners are investing in expanding their managed services and IP offerings to make their offerings stickier and create more consistent revenue streams for themselves. As part of these investments, partners are able to reduce their own costs through solution repeatability, scale to volume, and workflow IP. Many of our partners have been able to utilize the Power Platform to enhance their own services and the customer experiences.
With Microsoft’s voice offerings being more widely adopted, calling has become a more important opportunity for partners that do not have a traditional voice practice. For SMBs, Microsoft’s calling plans created by some Microsoft partners are seeing greater adoption. These opportunities have a large advisory and adoption component because processes and experiences core to how people work are changing. Meeting and calling are an incremental, revenue-uplift opportunity for partners on top of their existing collaboration solution practices.