For professional services organizations (PSOs) around the globe, the service landscape is changing. Localization and personalization are mandatory for success. So much so, that in many cases “corporate headquarters” is little more than a mailing address. More and more PSOs are relying on functionally rich mobile technologies, virtual operations, work-from-home staffing models, and remote outsourcing of work.
This revolution is powered by cloud computing, which allows for a collaborative platform that unifies disparate teams and decentralized information under a single umbrella. There are varying definitions of cloud computing and an array of acronyms (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS), but cloud computing in its most basic form is a means to leverage the Internet as a standardized technology platform linking and sharing Web-based solutions, platforms, and infrastructures across multiple environments.
Because of the short-term impact and minimal support requirements, Software as a Service, or SaaS, is the most popular model for all but the largest professional services firms. In a recent survey by ITSMA, 74% of respondents indicate they are using SaaS offerings today for office/productivity applications, 66% for email/communications, 50% for financials, and 45% for customer relationship management
Because of the highly decentralized and mobile nature of the industry, when assessing cloud solutions there are a number of areas that PSO’s need to focus on.
- Easy Connectivity – Whether booting up a work station in the home office or logging onto the company portal from a coffee shop, staff need to be able to securely connect to the applications and information that are stored in the cloud.
- Accessibility – Round-the-clock access and support. Accessibility needs to be a given, in order to allow PSOs to make real-time decisions regardless of their dispersed teams’ locations or time zones.
- Continuity – Ensuring customers have continuous access to information.
- Collaboration Capabilities – As staff becomes further and further removed from a centralized location, effective feedback and collaboration become more important. Cloud-based collaboration tools delivered by centralized wikis, dashboards, and portals are as necessary as access to a laptop.
- Regulatory and Industry Compliance – Most professional services firms deal with confidential customer information that requires infrastructure and capabilities (like email archiving and legal hold) that meet these requirements.
- Security – The combination of sensitive customer data and valuable company data, and the need for extra company collaboration drives requirements for a highly secure infrastructure and a flexible security model.
The Microsoft Cloud provides the mobile capabilities that professional services need.
Office 365 provides familiar Office tools enabling staff to create, edit, and share from traditional laptops or any iOS, Android™, or Windows device with anyone in real time. Online services like Skype for Business, SharePoint Online, and the new “Teams” app, further support collaboration and communication.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is Microsoft’s new approach to end-to-end intelligent business applications in the cloud. Dynamics 365 unifies ERP and CRM into one cloud service with new purpose-built apps to manage all your core business functions, including Sales, Customer Service, Finance, Field Service, Operations, Marketing and Project Service Automation. With native integration to Office 365, universal browser access, and mobile apps for iOS, Android™, or Windows devices, employees can have secure access to all the information, services, and resources they need wherever work takes them.
Services are hosted at Microsoft data centers, offering the most comprehensive set of certifications and attestations of any cloud service provider to ensure organizations comply with national, regional, and industry-specific requirements governing the collection and use of individuals’ data.
With over 800 professional services customers across the US and Canada, SBS Group is the leader in Microsoft solutions for professional services and project-based businesses. If you are interested in learning more about the Microsoft Cloud for Professional Services, please email us firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888.725.2555.
Register for our upcoming Professional Services Webcast!
The Microsoft Cloud for Professional Services Firms
Wednesday, January 11th
12 – 1 PM ET