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Microsoft Highlights Leadership Changes, Outlines FY17 Priorities

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Lynn Haber**Editor’s Note: Click here to see and read highlights from Microsoft WPC.**

MICROSOFT WPC Microsoft channel partners sat through more than two hours of keynote presentations Wednesday morning, day three of WPC 2016, before meeting recently appointed Judson Althoff, executive vice president for Microsoft’s worldwide commercial business, who on stage laid out the company’s six FY17 priorities: Drive digital transformation with customers; accelerate cloud adoption; propel Windows 10 enterprise deployment; generate SQL Server 2016 growth; drive ISV and SI momentum; and, make the experience come to life through hardware solutions.

Microsoft's Judson AlthoffMicrosoft, stressing how it’s a partner-led company, will share these same priorities with the company’s global sales force next week at its corporate sales conference.

The appointment of Althoff is significant for Microsoft because it’s the first time the vendor has had someone above the EPG and SMS&P commercial business units — and that’s a big thing.

“Microsoft is a big company and those business units tended to operate a bit separately. And for a partner dealing with Microsoft [going forward] they’ll have a better point of contact and be able to have a relationship across those two areas,” said Steve White, program vice president for the channels and alliances team at IDC.{ad}

While White is positive about this move within Microsoft, he admitted the task wouldn’t be easy. However, the FY 2017 priorities set clear principals and get everyone on the same page. “I think it’s a great start,” White told us.

The shake-up at the top of Microsoft also includes the recent appointment of channel chief Gavriella Schuster, who made no bones about the Microsoft’s direction – cloud – and that partners need to get on board with the company’s digital-transformation strategy. In fact, she pointed out that partners who are embracing cloud are already reaping payoff and profitability.

On day three of WPC, Microsoft addressed how it will enable partners to modernize. The company introduced several resources for change, rather than big Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) changes.

The software giant is coupling its logo with gold branding, a move it hopes better connects partners and customers. Along these lines, Microsoft also will update partner branding with competency badges.

A favorite of partners, Schuster said the company is doubling cloud platform internal use rights. That means more access to …

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… free stuff — software and services. According to the vendor, when partners use IURs, their deals are about three times larger.

Partners won’t go it alone. Microsoft is investing in more technical field resources to help its solution providers build cloud and hybrid practices. That’s 3,500 people dedicated to help partners be successful.

The Redmond, Washington-based company is offering enhancements for Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) partners, who now tally around 17,000. Partners will be able to create and manage their own online webstore with functionality that includes onboarding, transacting and subscription management of their customers’ business. Partners will be able to do this with a webstore app that is integrated with a Partner Center software development kit (SDK).

The company also is simplifying the delivery of referrals to partners. Partner solutions and profiles will be syndicated across Microsoft’s digital properties and communications so customers will be able to find the right partner. The company is working on making this available to partners this year.

Other partner-enablement news includes the Microsoft Professional Degree (MPD), a curriculum that teaches the fundamentals and technical skills via online courses with hands-on labs and a final capstone project. The first program to roll out is a degree in Data Scientist. There’s a pilot program underway, with the first degrees completed in the September timeframe. Stay tuned as Microsoft addresses the need for more agile ways of learning.


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