Microsoft’s Gavriella Schuster: Channel Influencer of the Year

2018 Channel Influencer

… technology have shifted,” she said. Now, it’s less often an IT sale than a chance to directly tell decision-makers how this service will make their businesses better, more profitable, more robust.

“Partners need to learn how to focus on the buyer, and the value proposition of the technology for that buyer, and think more expansively about what the solutions can do,” she said. “The other thing that partners need to understand is, where is the value of their organization, and what is going to differentiate them?”

She reiterates the message some partners are, if they’re being honest, getting tired of hearing: “There are a lot of commodity services, and many kinds of system integration services are not as required when people can buy point solutions that support them over the cloud.”

Transform or Die

Another trend some are sick of, digital transformation, is also not going anywhere. Recent predictions from IDC report direct digital transformation investment will total $6.3 trillion for 2018 through 2020. By the end of 2019, worldwide spending will reach $1.7 trillion annually, a 42 percent increase from 2017.

For Microsoft, the digital transformation message is, “empower employees, engage customers, optimize operations and transform products.

The challenge is to get buy-in from partners, to reboot that ecosystem for the cloud, Schuster acknowledges. Key to that is enablement — ensuring partner firms can hire and retain the talent to keep pace with Microsoft’s road map and leverage the innovation it provides, particularly around machine learning and artificial intelligence. On that front, Microsoft is adding education; connecting partners to deliver complete solutions to customers; and encouraging co-selling with inside sales teams, which are rewarded for working with partners.

That and more is spelled out in the new OCP operating model. Microsoft did two key things, Schuster said.

“One, we got clarity with [partners] that we’re in four core businesses,” she said. Partners are encouraged to help build solutions around modern workplace, business applications, applications and infrastructure, and data and AI.

“And two, we said, ‘We’re going to help you in three ways: We’re going to help build your businesses, we’re going to help you build your go-to-market and we’re going to sell with you,” she said.

That precision of message flows from Nadella, and Schuster admits that it’s no accident she’s been with Microsoft for as long as she has. Much of her time at the company coincided with that of her CEO, who’s helped make Microsoft cool again.

“He has the ability to take complexity and simplify things,” she said. “It helped me be a better leader as well because I appreciate the value of the clarity he provides, and the prioritization. I practice that myself now.”

That’s not all. In a recent …

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