Pretend you work for Microsoft's Live@edu division.
Your job is to get institutions of higher education to adopt your cloud platform of "free hosted email, communication and collaboration services". You are going head-to-head with Google Apps for Higher Education. The stakes are high, the company that can bring today's college students into the ecosystem of web based (and mobile) services will build a long last relationship with the consumers of tomorrow.
Google is a formidable competitor. What to do? What to do?
The answer. Offer something that Google is not. Solve a problem for higher ed. Take steps to take the costs out of campus IT beyond the savings of moving to a free cloud based e-mail calendaring system. You should make the LMS (learning management system) free as well. And not just free, but integrated with your cloud based e-mail and calendaring system.
But wait you say, "we don't own an LMS". No worries.
All Microsoft needs to do is make a deal with Blackboard to pay the subscription fee for Blackboard's Managed Hosted offering for any LIve@edu customer. This is a win-win-win.
- A win for the colleges and universities, as all of a sudden the LMS subscription fees can be saved.
- A win for Blackboard, as they are guaranteed new revenues and customers, without the very expensive customer acquisition costs.
- A win for Microsoft, as they suddenly have a very good story to tell as to why Live@edu with free (integrated) hosted Blackboard is a better value proposition than Google Apps for Education.
How expensive would this be for Microsoft? Maybe not so bad. Blackboard would offer a big discount, as the marginal cost for providing another school managed hosting is low, and the high customer acquisition / retention costs would go away.
Microsoft, what do you think?
EDU decision makers - would a free hosted LMS make you look twice at Live@edu?