In the middle of 2006, I was preparing for an important executive review for Jeff Raikes to seek approval to kick off the project to build "CCS"—a communication and collaboration service from Microsoft. As was Jeff's approach to big decision meetings, he would ask for the PowerPoint slides in advance so he could review the content. He would often start the meeting with questions about the plan instead of following the carefully crafted storyline we would build with our slides. This approval meeting was no different, but how he started the meeting was certainly unique. As the group of us working on the project and the other execs from the division settled into their seats for the two-hour review, Jeff open the meeting with a question: "Is there anyone in the room who doesn't think we should do this?" For the next few moments, the room was silent. With a smile on his face, Jeff jumped back in again by saying "Let's do it." What was scheduled to be a two-hour meeting, lasted for 45 minutes and CCS was born.
CCS launched as the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) in 2008, later became Office 365 in 2011 and now is one of the fastest growing businesses in Microsoft's history. The reasons why the business is growing so quickly now, are the same reasons why Jeff was so quick to approve the project—Office 365 creates value for customers, it created value for Microsoft and it creates value for partners. It is rare that a new business can create so much value across the ecosystem, but when it happens, things take off—Office 365 is a great example of that dynamic.
The virtuous fly wheel starts with the customer. If there isn't value for the customer, then the business can't get off the ground. The value to customers is relatively straight forward: with Office 365 they will save money, simplify their overall IT environment, see higher reliability and tighter security, while providing their end users with the best productivity experience that is always up-to-date.
For Microsoft, Office 365 allows us to expand into new markets, serve new customers and reduce churn by delivering a better overall experience using our latest technology. Office 365 makes technologies such as SharePoint, previously only available to the largest enterprises, now available to small and midsized businesses. By staying up-to-date with the latest bits, Office 365 keeps customers on our latest products and it improves overall loyalty to Microsoft through a better customer experience. These factors have motivated Microsoft to continue to make deeper and deeper investments in Office 365 moving forward.
Finally, Office 365 has created a great opportunity for partners to help customers fully capture the value of Office 365 as they use the service. Office 365 helps partners scale to reach new customers and deliver higher level value. Less time and effort is spent setting up servers, and more time can be spent customizing the environment to meet the needs of the customer. Partners can help customers in two key ways:
Migrating from their current environment into Office 365 and once they have Office 365 up and running
Customizing the environment to meet the needs of the customer's business
While the value proposition of Office 365 may be clear, getting there isn't always straightforward. This book represents an excellent resource for people with basic IT skills who are looking to move to Office 365, but aren't sure of how to get started. The authors, David Greve and Loryan Strant, are both Office 365 MVPs, and experts in helping customers take full advantage of moving to, and using Office 365.
Enjoy the book, Office 365, and welcome to the cloud.