Consolidate and protect: maximising bottom-line benefits of M365 E5 adoption

Co-authored with Damien NealeSales and Marketing Director at Eighty20 Solutions

As a step away from costly and complex licensing and the risks inherent in a multi-layered tech stack, the business case for M365 adoption is fairly rock solid. But just how substantial are the savings and benefits and can they be realised without a hefty investment in resources to manage and embed the transition?

Drawing up a tech wish list for 2023 is a daunting task for organisations doing their level best to maximise the many opportunities of our digital age. Customer and employee engagement, collaboration and innovation for competitive advantage are some of the biggest prizes in the digital transformation stakes. But for many organisations, these strategic goals can be harder to prioritise when there are urgent profit problems to solve as salary and supply costs skyrocket thanks to inflation and a tight labour market.

Tackling the challenge of protecting networks and data has moved to the top of the agenda since the pandemic. With the widespread and rapid shift to the cloud and remote working, the attack surface has grown exponentially. Cyber criminals have wasted no time in exploiting vulnerabilities that have emerged as a result of this unexpected and ad hoc switch to a more distributed workforce.

No more blank cheques

While the immediate C-Suite focus has shifted slightly towards recession and global unrest in the more recent past, cyberattacks are still up there with climate change as a long-term threat to business viability. In their 2023 Annual Global CEO survey, PwC found inflation, macroeconomic volatility, geopolitical conflict, cyber risks and climate change are the top five risks leaders have on their radar for the next five years.

With macroeconomic stress and cost constraints top-of-mind at the executive level, CTOs are looking for ways to contain transformation spending. With many having burnt through significant budget for the pandemic pivot to the cloud and remote working, they’re having to take stock of their stack and determine how to get better value from their existing tools and operating environment. On top of this, they’re often facing the challenges of using their existing capacity to maximise adoption and value from their bold moves into the digital realm.

Keeping it simple to reduce risk

Simplifying and consolidating the software portfolio is a top 2023 priority among respondents that have been breached in the past three years. Our 2022 Global Digital Trust Insights report foresaw this trend with 75% reporting that their data, technology and other operations were too complex, causing concerns about cyber risk.

PwC, Global Digital Trusts Insights Report 2023

Reducing licensing spend certainly isn’t the only cost saving that can come from consolidating technology. There are other savings – direct and indirect – that can be realised and we’ll go on to highlight a few of these in this article. But one of the other significant wins for CTOs and CISOs is how consolidation can play a part in improving data security and end point protection. According to the 2023 Global Digital Trusts Insights Report from PwC, the majority of organisations know well that the more disparate the tools you have in your tech stack, the higher your security risks are likely to be. This is a particularly strongly held opinion among organisations that have direct and recent experience of a cyber security breach.

This ‘simple is secure’ principle is even more compelling when you consider how effective M365 E5 licensing can be for delivering integrated features that support a whole range of security requirements. The out-of-the-box capabilities of M365 E5 address the majority of the Essential Eight cyber security framework and standards recommended by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC).  From anti-virus to anonymous threat protection to identity controls that support a Zero Trust environment, there are a whole host of tools that can save organisations thousands or even millions in existing licensing costs. In fact, Microsoft estimate that organisations can save up to 60% on licensing costs by using a single security solution rather than multiple vendors[1].

Can a single solution deliver on security?

Savings on licensing are just one element of the cost-benefit analysis Forrester carried out for enterprise-wide adoption of Microsoft 365 E5. They estimate average license savings of $70.20 per user per month based on retiring third-party solutions and hardware and replacing these with the robust security, analytics, and communications solutions provided by Microsoft’s consolidated solution. Organisations can also enjoy improved time and resource efficiency when they reduce the operational impact of managing multiple vendors and solutions. With streamlined processes, both for IT teams and end users, complexity is reduced and everyone reaps the rewards of doing less to get the same result.

Forrester’s analysis also found a significant reduction in exposure to security risk with Microsoft 365 E5 adoption. Their estimate of a 50% drop in security breaches is valued at $69.00 per user over three years. This saving partly comes from the 90% of threats being automatically detected and remediated without manual intervention. The reduced potential for harm to brand and operations is also factored into this savings estimate.

This evidence of the effectiveness of Microsoft’s out of the box security suite casts doubt on a cybersecurity approach that relies on multiple solutions to maximise coverage. With a range of features and functions to protect the entire technology ecosystem, from the cloud through to end points, M365 E5 can deliver protection that meets a large proportion of cyber security needs, for less upfront cost and ongoing overhead.

Seizing the opportunity

With these proof points and figures, it’s relatively easy to build a business case for getting on board with M365 E5. And the reasons to buy stack up even more when you look at the potential benefits for innovation and engagement and the value coming from these less tangible outcomes. Switching on the full suite of security, collaboration and engagement features is not without obstacles and the desired state and path to success will depend on many factors – including strategic priorities, existing transformation programs and an organisation’s level of adoption maturity.

At Eighty20 we take a programmatic approach to help clients maximise their value uplift from M365 E5, following a pace and priorities that fit with their current state and their transformation goals. We’ll look at their biggest pain points – from a cost, operational and cultural perspective. From requirements gathering to execution to reinforcement, we can share our best-practice insights from other engagements so our clients benefit from programs based on what we’ve seen work, but with an added pragmatism and best-fit mindset that comes from our boutique approach. We know that one size-doesn’t fit all, even when it comes to deploying a suite of tools that’s probably the best one-stop-shop solution for enterprises we’ve ever seen.

[1] Savings based on publicly available estimated pricing for other vendor solutions and web direct/base price shown for Microsoft offerings.

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