Microsoft’s Gavriella Schuster Leads the Channel Into 2018


… bring the value back to the partners so they understand what that may look like. So, for example, enabling new solutions around the industry and horizontal solutions with partners that are building IP or applications, and help them go to market with or through other partners who have similar offers through managed services or around project services or systems integration, really enables them to deliver a complete package to the customer.

We’re very much focused on — how do we enable that connectivity to happen? How do we build community within the ecosystem, and how do we leverage our assets, like the partner program and LinkedIn, to help those partners find each other and make connections? That’s a big investment area for us. Another area is getting them to connect to customers. Here, it’s about the investments that we’ve made in how we market to customers, how we get those leads, qualify them and send them to our partners. And it’s the way we work in the field to co-sell with our partners and reward our field for co-selling with partners on their solutions.

We also have a pilot underway with a handful of ISVs to bring their applications out through our existing channel, through our cloud solutions program. Really creating the right connections and getting them to market faster and into the hands of the customer — that’s our primary goal.

CP: What are the biggest challenges for partners? Microsoft plays in multiple channel spaces. What are you seeing?

GS: I think that the biggest opportunity for partners is to rethink the way they sell technology and who they’re selling to. The buyers of technology have shifted — primarily away from it being an IT sale to a business decision-maker on the front end running a business [that] is looking to technology to support and enhance their business. The technology has gotten to a place where because it’s untethered, you don’t need to have these massive CapEx expenses on the back end and you don’t need to be running it in your data center. It makes good decision-making easier for the business decision-maker without disrupting the state of the business.

Partners need to learn how to focus on the buyer and the value proposition of the technology for that buyer, and to think more expansively about what solutions can do. The other thing that partners need to understand is where the value is within their organization and what’s going to differentiate them. There are a lot of commodity services out there, and many of the prior kind of system-integration services are not as required when people can buy point solutions that support them over the cloud.

What partners need to think about: “Is my real value in the fact that I understand this market and I know these customers and I have their trust? Now I need to create partnerships to ensure that what I’m delivering is the value that they need.” Or, is it: “I’m really great at delivering managed services and understand how to support my customer over time. And I can do that even easier now through the cloud without having to go through the expense of building a data center.” It enables a lot of partners to …

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