In February of this year, a few of my fellow cloud technology junkies and myself started a company focusing on helping people and organizations transform their business by moving to the cloud. From my almost 20 years of experience working in technology and finance, it was clear that many businesses really struggle with this challenge. In my opinion, there is a big opportunity for a new cloud focus, and that is why I started Go2the.cloud.

The great thing about working so closely with companies in the midst of their digital transformation is that there is a clear solution to every challenge we come across. We can’t solve those problems ourselves but we use the Microsoft Partner Network to find specialized partners to work together on those challenges. In this new era of digital transformation, working together is the key to success.

After only 5 months of helping companies and organizations in the EU move to the cloud, we doubled our revenue every month. Our customers are now solving problems and enabling their employees to achieve more through a variety of Microsoft cloud services such as Office 365, Azure, Dynamics, and HoloLens.

The opportunities to grow a business in the cloud are plentiful, but the challenges are there as well. Here are the 6 cloud migration challenges that we see organizations and Microsoft partners struggle with as they help move their customers to the cloud.

1. Knowledge of Cloud Based Technology

For many companies, cloud technology is still very new. In order to leverage the cloud, you first need to understand what it means for you and your business. In many cases, the old ways of thinking are still in play. But those outdated methodologies don’t enable business success in a cloud-first world. Your team members should move their way of thinking from technical to more business focused. Take the time to educate yourself about the latest cloud technologies, the impact on you and your customers’ business process, and learn how they can make your team more effective.

2. Financial Business Transformation

Traditional IT is built on project-based earning. For example, a project with a contract value of €100,000 would be invoiced directly and the customer must use the traditional IT solution for the length of the contract. With cloud technology, earnings are based on recurring revenue. This is good in the long term because it provides financial stability in your organization, but short-term it can create a financial gap in cash flow for partners. More important, it gives a shift in thinking in your organization from less focus on new business to more focus on retaining business. That is a definite challenge that IT service providers need to prepare for.

3. Automation of Invoicing and Provisioning

Cloud technology requires monthly billing to end customers which means customers have the flexibility to scale up or down on these services. While Microsoft doesn’t offer an automated invoicing or provisioning tool, there are several third-party solutions currently on the market to help partners. For CSP partners it can be difficult to choose the right one, I choose a good solution by talking with the Microsoft Partner Community for best practices. This even became a consultancy business within our company.

4. Product Portfolio Management

There are a lot of different cloud solutions available today. Between the Azure marketplace and Office 365, Microsoft alone offers over 500 different cloud solutions. Given that level of complexity, it is important to build a simple and clear product portfolio based on the needs of your customers. You could think about branch specific product portfolios to become more unique in the market.

5. Long Term Customer Engagement

Cloud technology is uniquely flexible and while it does provide an excellent opportunity to help customers scale up quickly and easily, customers can also cancel or move to other service providers on a monthly basis. Because of this, it is critical for Microsoft partners to engage their customers in a meaningful way long-term. This requires differentiating and providing value in ways that competitors can’t replicate.

6. Service Management

In modern days, customers expect self-service and real-time insights into their service requests. A good amount of those service management tasks can be automated given the right tools. But again, finding the best tools can be a challenge. That said, there are Microsoft partners which can help your organization with improving this.

All in all, I am obsessed with how cloud technology is changing our way of doing business. While these challenges can seem like critical obstacles to overcome in the cloud transition journey, rest assured that each problem has a solution. Furthermore, these challenges are all ones that we have seen and helped customers and Microsoft partners rise above and accomplish greater business transformation with the help of the cloud.

For more thoughts on how you can ease your journey to the cloud, connect with the Microsoft Partner Community.