Softchoice and Microsoft: A Partnership for Customer Success

As we announced last Monday, Softchoice has been recognized as Microsoft’s Canada Partner of the Year for 2020.

We are honored to have been ranked among Microsoft’s best commercial channel partners in Canada and to be recognized for excellence in delivering enterprise-grade solutions and services across the entire Microsoft technology stack.

“Being named Microsoft’s Canada Partner of The Year is a recognition of Softchoice’s leadership in delivering innovative solutions and services that accelerate our customers’ digital journeys,” said Andrew Caprara, Senior Vice President, Strategy & Business Development at Softchoice.

“We are excited about the positive impact Microsoft and Softchoice have together on our customers’ business as they adapt to a new working environment.”

This award wasn’t just the culmination of a fantastic year together, but also the natural outcome of a longstanding partnership that continues to help Softchoice and Microsoft deliver success with digital transformation for our customers across the US and Canada.

A Commitment to Continuing Innovation

For the last several years, Softchoice has dedicated significant effort and investment into building foundational capabilities across Microsoft’s cloud, productivity, collaboration, and security technologies.

With this award, Microsoft has recognized the transformation the Softchoice team has undergone to enhance our capabilities and cover an end-to-end solution. Today we are not only equipped to help our customers select and manage the right Microsoft subscriptions for their needs but also tap into the advanced services capabilities of a global system integrator to ensure successful implementation and adoption of Microsoft technology.

We have 142 Microsoft-certified experts with 13 Gold competencies. We were also Canada’s first accredited Microsoft Azure Expert managed service provider (MSP), the highest accreditation available for the Azure cloud platform.

As a member of Microsoft’s exclusive global partner group, our team has deep connections to the Microsoft engineering team, allowing us to field some of the best-informed professionals in the industry to help customers implement and adopt Microsoft technology. This connectivity has also allowed us to continue to stay at the forefront of Microsoft product development and quickly deploy new features to help the organizations we work with to respond and adapt to new challenges.

This capability has been more important than ever in a year when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted business-as-usual for organizations everywhere. In response, some of the services we launched this year include enhanced Adoption Services for Microsoft 365 and Teams to increase end-user usage, the EMS Accelerator to expand mobile access and security, and the Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure solutions to enable remote work in a short timeframe.

What makes the Softchoice team proudest about this award, however, is the validation of our view that successful digital transformation happens with people, not just technology. To this end, we maintain a focus on driving successful adoption that in turn leads to customer success.

Dedication to Customer Success in the Cloud

An essential part of our continued success in partnership with Microsoft stems from our dedication to technical excellence across the full spectrum of Microsoft solutions and services.

This advanced expertise has helped us guide organizations in their journey to adopt Azure infrastructure and services to differentiate their offerings and modernize the backend infrastructure their businesses run on.

For example, over the last year, Softchoice worked with an LED lighting solutions company in Canada to upgrade its enterprise resource planning (ERP). The underlying infrastructure was based on legacy Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008, which would go end-of-life (EOL) in January 2020.

As a result of a workload assessment, the Softchoice team determined a migration to Azure would best meet the customer’s needs for superior, scalable infrastructure supporting its ERP systems.

Our deep bench strength in Azure helped Softchoice not only recommend and implement a suite of Azure services that would modernize its operations but also take advantage of extended security updates to protect its environment throughout the transition.

Today, the organization has a foundation on which to transform its core business and support growth on a global scale, supported 24/7/365 by certified Softchoice engineers.

Supporting Better Communication and Collaboration

Another essential aspect of our strong partnership with Microsoft is our focus on understanding customer challenges. As a rule, we aim to design solutions and services to drive adoption of new technology through robust planning, training, and management support to empower digital transformation.

This approach goes beyond just implementing Microsoft services to ensuring that the technology implemented meets the needs of users and that organizations get the most value from their investment by achieving full adoption.

We applied this approach this past year when working with a direct bank in Canada to replace its aging unified communications (UC) infrastructure with a new solution incorporating Skype for Business for voice and Microsoft Teams for collaboration.

The customer worked directly with a professional services architect from Softchoice to design a full implementation plan based on the organization’s unique user needs and profiles.  As a result, the organization was able to remove unnecessary software from their environment while maximizing their return on investment (ROI) by implementing tools and features that their users would adopt and use.

Meanwhile, because of the global health crisis, the rapid adoption of technologies for secure remote access and collaboration became mission-critical for our customers in 2020. In response, Softchoice developed and delivered a Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure solution to provide 12 organizations with a stable and secure means to continue operating while keeping employees safe within a 3-month period.

One such organization was a Canadian university that needed a remote learning solution that would allow remote students to use applications requiring high compute power from any PC deployed as quickly as possible. The Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure solution allowed Softchoice to integrate virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) with the institution’s on-premise networks and existing Azure AD and Office 365 solutions.

The resulting implementation supported remote access to lab applications on any device or browser for 1,000 students while delivering superior performance over application streaming solutions.

Here’s to Many More Years!

We would once again like to thank Microsoft for this honor and we look forward to continuing to build on our partnership over the years to come.

With over 30 years of experience helping customers embrace technology to unleash their potential, Softchoice has continued to invest in our partnership as well as our people. Whether it’s adopting cloud services and infrastructure, onboarding new productivity and collaboration tools, or differentiating your business with modern applications, Softchoice is positioned to help you select, deploy and manage the right solutions to accelerate your digital transformation.


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Boost Business Productivity and Collaboration: A Microsoft Teams Tool Guide

Business Productivity and Collaboration

The right collaboration tools can have a huge positive impact on productivity.

But collaboration can’t always wait for a scheduled meeting. In the workplace, casual conversations become working sessions at a moment’s notice. Whether they’re at the water cooler or across the world, colleagues need the ability to create, share and contribute without friction.

[Read more…]

People First: How to Succeed with Teams Adoption

Change is painful 

Change is not automatic. Human behavior tells us that change is hard and it takes time.

Gone are the days when IT departments turned on new technologies without input from their end users. “Deploy it and they will come” doesn’t work. There’s no “one size fits all” solution.

Successful adoption of Teams is more than the introduction of a new product. It’s about a change in behavior and change is all about people. Organizations are made of up innovators, laggards and everything in between.

Each time new technology is introduced organizations will experience a dip in productivity. Only 34% of people are considered early adopters and willing to adopt new technology. This means the remaining user population needs help in understanding how a solution like Teams will benefit them. Then they can get past that initial fear and resentment and learn to embrace the new technology.

What is change management? 

We hear the term “change management” all the time but what does it really mean? In essence, change management is a framework for handling the people side of change. Any time an organization implements change, the only way they will realize success is if individuals change, too. A change management framework allows organizations to realize the benefits and desired outcomes of change. Change implementation without a proper framework is fruitless because it won’t address the need to change people’s behavior.

Without this change in people, adoption doesn’t happen. Change in technology is so rapid and constant in today’s world that end users can’t keep up. They end up freeing frustrated and overwhelmed. Organizations struggle to get their users on-board. They’re looking for someone to coach them through the journey to successful adoption. With this support in place, they enhance their probability of achieving success, realizing return on investment, increasing productivity and reducing user resistance.

What are the pillars of a successful Teams adoption? 

Adoption isn’t just one task. A successful adoption plan is more than just training users on the features and functionality of Teams.  It’s a continuous journey that requires a well-considered course of action, including:

  • A clear vision that identifies how the organization will use Teams and its expected business outcomes
  • Executive leadership and stakeholder support to encourage use of new tools and drive cultural change
  • Input on the way people work today, their challenges and pain points and the opportunities they see for improvement
  • A plan mapping user requirements to the technology’s capabilities to solve problems, making it easier for people to see the connection between Teams and how they do their daily work
  • An awareness and communications campaign that communicates the upcoming change and generates excitement among the end-user population
  • End-user training that details how people can use Teams to accomplish their goals
  • Continuous communication and education to encourage ongoing usage of Teams

Enabling Success 

A change in technology is all about people. Softchoice helps organizations enable their end users for success through a combination of adoption, change management and end-user training. Our Adoption Services experts partner with you to coach you through all stages of the adoption journey to minimize any productivity dip and ensure your users are part of the process. As a result, they will recognize what’s important and feel empowered to embrace Teams as a positive outcome.

Ready to jumpstart your digital workplace?

Don’t miss the previous articles in our series on how you can get the best value out of Microsoft Teams:

Achieve more with your technology and start the conversation around end-user productivity with one of our experts.