Microsoft urges partners to differentiate based on skills and expertise
Customers – from small businesses to enterprises – need the help of capable and specialized partners to assist with digital transformation, cloud migration, and improving overall use of evolving and emerging technologies. To help partners meet the market’s changing and future expectations, Microsoft is turning to a tried-and-true approach by introducing new partner specializations and support mechanisms.
The Lowdown: Microsoft is telegraphing the new specializations and support in the Microsoft Partner Network ahead of next month’s annual Inspire conference in Las Vegas. The software and cloud giant is consistently touting the need for partners to increase not just their capabilities but also their visibility in specific technology domains. Customers, Microsoft says, are asking for more help in identifying and connecting with expert partners with the capabilities and capacity to help with cloud computing and digital transformation programs.
The forthcoming enhancements and changes include new ways for partners to identify as experts and specialists, increased marketing support and enablement to broadcast capabilities, and new routes to market for delivering services and applications.
The Details: Microsoft is introducing gold and silver competencies to help partners identify as experts in specific technology fields.
Microsoft says advanced specializations will enable partners to “showcase” their verified expertise in products, solutions, and services. Advanced specializations will cover domains ranging from cloud computing and security to cross-vendor solution implementations, such as SAP on Azure.
New security competencies will help partners identify themselves as capable in designing and implementing data and application protection measures for Microsoft Azure cloud implementations and Office 365 workloads.
Microsoft announced in April changes to its Business Applications competencies and will announce new changes to other technology and software domains this summer.
In addition, Microsoft is opening new marketing resources and routes to market. Partners will have access to marketing materials, support, and tools to promote their capabilities and expert competencies. Certain partners will become authorized to go to market through the Microsoft co-selling program, in which Microsoft sales teams sell partners’ products and services. And qualified partners will gain access to software licenses and development kits for building new applications.
The Impact: The emphasis on partner specializations and defined competencies is part of an ongoing shift by Microsoft to transition its channel program focus away from transactional sales and toward the value- and outcome-based experiences delivered by channel partners. In the services-based market, Microsoft believes sustained success comes from customer experience rather than the product. The changes in specializations and programs at Microsoft reflect that philosophy.
Background: Microsoft’s Toby Richards provided deep background into how Microsoft is thinking about the composition and role of its channel partners in a recent podcast with 2112. Check out the podcast by clicking here.
The Buzz: “Today’s customers expect more from technology providers than ever before. They want products and services that accelerate their business transformation. When choosing a partner, they look for specialists with deep skills, understanding of, and experience in their industry,” wrote Toby Richards, general manager of Microsoft’s Partner Go To Market and Programs, in a blog post. “Customers are asking Microsoft to help them connect with the best partners and to help them find, try, and buy the apps and services that best meet their needs as they continue moving to the cloud.”