This post was updated to include the Meetings and Meeting Rooms for Microsoft Teams advanced specialization on June 23, 2020.

As thousands of companies across the globe navigate the widespread shift to remote work, organizations are grappling with how to drive meaningful collaboration and engagement – at a distance. While remote work isn’t a new concept, the fact that it is now an everyday experience certainly takes getting used to, and many organizations are working to accelerate plans to get every employee set up for success in this new, ever-shifting landscape.

But with the challenges comes the opportunity to embrace change, and I’m excited to see so many organizations taking this moment to adapt and innovate through these rapid shifts. For some, it may feel like the nudge they needed to fast-track existing plans; for others, a necessary but difficult transition into uncharted territory. But one thing is clear: the cost of failing to adapt to this new way of working and the technologies required to power it will be far greater than the investment of time and resources of implementation. As referenced in so much of the news coverage on this topic, the change has happened and there’s no going back.

As companies adapt to these new realities, Microsoft will continue to invest in remote work resources for partners so they are able to demonstrate their ability to meet customers’ evolving technology needs. As I outlined in a recent blog post, we are committed to empowering partners in all ways that drive relevancy and differentiation for them in the marketplace. With this in mind, I’d like to highlight three new advanced specializations that partners with an active gold Cloud Productivity competency can now achieve: Teamwork Deployment, Calling for Microsoft Teams, and Meetings and Meeting Rooms for Microsoft Teams. 

Advanced specialization – Teamwork Deployment

For remote teams to be successful, minimizing technological friction and enabling effortless collaboration is essential. Office 365 is a powerful asset when it comes to empowering remote teams, but before customers can unlock the potential of the full ecosystem they need to migrate to the platform and get configured properly.

Teamwork deployment services offer a critical opportunity for partners to ensure customers achieve business value from Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and Yammer, which can increase customer lifetime value for partners. This advanced specialization helps to differentiate partners in the marketplace, making it easier for customers to identify the best match for their needs. This added advantage can help partners grow their Teams deployment services practice and build more meaningful connections with customers.

To earn an advanced specialization in this area, partners with an active gold Cloud Productivity competency are required to meet the following criteria:

  • Achieve a minimum of 2,500 Active Entitlement growth on three separate Teamwork services (choose from Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Microsoft Teams or Yammer) in a trailing 12-month period (CPOR data)
  • Maintain an average of 20 percent active usage for customers associated with your organization in each of the Teamwork services (Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Microsoft Teams, and Yammer) in a trailing 12-month period
  • Associate a minimum of 12 new customer tenants with your organization for one of the Teamwork services (Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Microsoft Teams, or Yammer) in a trailing 12-month period
  • Provide three customer references that demonstrate your ability to deploy Microsoft 365 Teamwork workloads

Advanced specialization – Calling for Microsoft Teams

Now more than ever, businesses need a modern voice solution and phone system capabilities that combines unified communication and teamwork. Calling in Teams provides the features organizations need to deliver seamless, collaborative experiences for employees, business partners and customers. Because implementation of calling solutions can be complex and involves network remediation, O365 service deployment, telephone number provisioning/porting and device deployment, customers need partners with this highly specialized skillset.

To earn an advanced specialization in Calling for Microsoft Teams, partners with an active gold Cloud Productivity competency are required to meet the following criteria:

  • Achieve a minimum 2,500 active entitlement growth of Microsoft Teams in a trailing 12-month period (CPOR data)
  • Provide three customer references that demonstrate your ability to deploy and manage Microsoft 365 Phone System, Calling Plan, Direct Routing configuration, Network Planning, and Remediation for Voice workloads

Advanced specialization – Meetings and Meeting Rooms for Microsoft Teams 

The advancement of collaborative technology and the rise of remote work has reshaped how we engage with our teams and colleagues. For many organizations, Microsoft Teams is the tool that facilitates a level of collaboration and engagement on par with face-to-face meetings. Amazingly, a record 2.7 billion minutes were spent in Teams meetings on March 31 alone – a 200 percent increase from the previous daily high achieved just two weeks prior. 

In recent weeks, teams have turned to video calls in particular to foster a human connection between employees; in March alone, total video calls on Teams grew by more than 1,000 percent. This trend provides a unique opportunity for our partners to create a Meetings and Meeting Rooms practice for Microsoft Teams, which generates business value for customers that can increase customer lifetime value and develop new revenue streams for partners.  

To earn an advanced specialization in Meetings and Meeting Rooms for Microsoft Teams, partners with an active gold Cloud Productivity competency are required to meet the following criteria: 

  • Achieve a minimum of 5000 Active Entitlement growth of Microsoft Teams in a trailing 12-month period (CPOR data) 
  • Provide three customer references that demonstrate your ability to deploy and manage meeting services and solutions for Microsoft Teams 

Building and displaying competency around enabling the remote workforce will continue to become increasingly relevant for our partners. I encourage all qualified partners to invest the necessary time and resources to achieve advanced specializations in Teamwork Deployment, Calling for Teams, and Meetings and Meeting Rooms for Teams, as well as the previously released Adoption and Change Management advanced specialization. They will help you differentiate your organization from competitors and provide meaningful value to customers as they seek to navigate the rapidly evolving new world of remote working.