The avalanche of Office 365 will hit every business rather sooner than later. On impact, most often the on-prem Exchange Server is being replaced by Exchange Online. But what’s next? Are customers stuck with it or is Exchange Online just the first of many steps to take? MSPs and VARs are the saviours, they are able to help you move away from the old static intranet to a brand new shiny digital workspace. In the minds of customers, they can solve this entirely with Office 365. But do they know what Office 365 is? And can they really replace their remote desktop, file server and intranet with Office 365? The simple answer is NO and MSPs and VARs know why.
Office 365 is not a digital workspace (although it can be)
To start off, Office 365 is not a digital workspace. I hear your disappointment, you already created a project group and are busy discovering Office 365. But here is the thing, Office 365 is a really powerful set of over 30 strong tools. Moreover, Microsoft has adopted a perfect strategy in which it empowers software vendors to build solutions on top or within Office 365.
A reality check: while there are organisations who do use the full suite, in most organisations I’ve spoken to, the move to Office 365 means getting stuck in the move with Exchange online (read: for users this means Outlook in the browser). In some organisation small groups of employees move a part of their documents to SharePoint (or a shared folder in OneDrive) and that’s about it.
I do see organisations who are successful in using Office 365 in their digital workspace by fully integrating it in their digital workspace or by integrating a digital workspace within their Office 365 environment (more on this later).
Why is Office 365 not enough?
When going to a digital workspace it is important to set a clear goal. Because your digital workspace is a solution to reach a goal and not a goal on itself. Most organisations start their journey to the digital workspace due to the fact that people are used to consumer applications, like WhatsApp and Instagram. These employees expect the same speed in communication and ease-of-use for the IT they have to use in their work. Moreover, a lot of applications are moving to the cloud making the browser a logical starting point for their work.
With a digital workspace you don’t want to recreate an intranet. You want to solve communication and IT challenges and combine them into one portal. A list of challenges which organisations state that they want to solve:
- One sign-in to any application (both web and Remote applications)
- Move away from the file server (this might be hard, so give it a start by integrating it in your workspace)
- Reduce the amount or length of newsletters (move to social feeds)
- Be able to work on any location and device (security is very important here)
- Filter the number of documents, information and applications (based on someone’s role, device, location and more)
Is this why MSPs and VARs choose to offer a workspace that supports Citrix?
Yes. Yes, it is. Managed Service Providers are focussed on delivering solutions to the end-users of their customers. And while it might be ideal to move 100% to the cloud, the truth is that most organisations aren’t there yet, and will not be for the coming years due to their current investments and IT environment.
That is why MSPs are researching solutions like Workspace 365, to see if the new digital workspace is able to integrate both the old IT world, being the file server (which is still linked to applications) and remote applications (using either Citrix or RDP) and their new IT world, including Office 365, intranet, SaaS applications and more.
Why is it important for MSPs and VARs to offer Citrix and RDP within their digital workspace?
While it is clearly important for their customers to reach all their applications in one adaptive workspace as it saves them time, it is also important for the MSP or VAR. Customers have multiple IT projects and might not have time or money to start their migration of their old IT environment. But as the customers do want to keep up with modern innovations this allows MSPs and VARsto offer new solutions in addition to the current investments of customers.
Furthermore, their customers are looking to replace (parts) of their IT environment. This is dangerous for MSPs and VARs as the customer might move away to a different MSP who offers a lower cost solution. That is why MSPs want to be able to offer both the current IT environment as the new IT environment in one adaptive workspace.
Personalisation of the digital workspace
An important topic these days is the personalisation of the digital workspace. While some tools allow you to personalise it on your own (e.g. using an App Store within your workspace or choosing your own tile colours), the future demands a workspace which automatically adapts to a person’s role, device, location, browser and more.
We are used to living in an internet world in which we are all connected and where all the information is based on our behaviour. But in most companies and digital workspaces people get everything that is available. While for some companies ‘everything – anywhere’ is a good step, it might be overwhelming for most. That is why our product team at Workspace 365 focuses on creating an adaptive workspace, either using Workspace 365 as their starting point or by integrating Workspace 365 within their intranet.
You only see the applications, information, communication tools and documents which are relevant to you at the right moment. When you open your workspace, it will automatically personalise based on your behaviour. This makes the workspace secure as it will adapt to you when you’re in- or outside your company network and make sure that you automatically use the right tools.
Don’t get stuck in the Office 365 avalanche, are you moving to a digital workspace?
These articles will help you get there:
- Do we still need VDI? This article discusses the view of customers on VDI and why you might need it.
- What is Microsoft 365? It’s good to get up-to-date on Microsoft 365 and our view on it.
- Three types of content in the digital workspace. Great when setting up your digital workspace.
- What if there is nothing left to manage? An article written for MSPs and VARs.