Australian Microsoft partners Mexia, Brennan IT and Thomas Duryea Logicalis have shared their assessments of changes announced at the vendor's Inspire conference, expressing hope that small to mid-size partners will start seeing more attention and support.
The company shed some light on its partner model overhaul earlier this week, highlighting new divisions around sales and marketing, new channel roles and tools designed to help partners go to market with Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure and targeting specific industries to drive business transformation.
Partners expressed relief about a move away from a lower-touch, “revenue and scorecard” model.
Dean Robertson, chief executive of Brisbane-based Mexia, said the changes were long overdue, particularly for small partners like Mexia. In the past, relationships have been maintained through “persistence and perseverance” on the partner’s part.
“I think Microsoft is realising they have a huge ecosystem of partners that they need to work with, and they can’t just take two or three of the global SIs and think ‘it’s easier to work with those guys’. They have to follow where the market is going,” he said.
“Companies like Mexia, we don’t have the headcount to burn shoe leather to go and stay front of mind in all of the different account executives in the market.
“The sales structure that was set in Microsoft was very focused on making sure that every partner that they had engaged with had to help them close their quota, so if you were a partner that wasn’t quite a fit... we found they didn’t always have the patience to work with us because it was easier for them just to get services to do it or to stay with their incumbent relationships."
"So I think this new operating model change that they’ve got is awesome, because it allows Microsoft themselves to have a portfolio of partners and playbooks and solution offerings... and it means we don’t have to make that headcount investment, they’re making that on our behalf.”
Thomas Duryea Logicalis chief executive Michael Chanter told CRN his company’s recent restructure into four practices – hybrid infrastructure, modern workspace, data and analytics, and security – was well aligned with Microsoft's direction.
“When you talk about Microsoft 365 particularly, that's aimed at what they call ‘workplace’, and we have a practice called modern workspace which we’ve been operating for 12 months and that’s a combination of Windows 10, EMS and Office 365,” he said.
Thomas Duryea Logicalis bring myriad vendors together. The company was a finalist in the CRN Impact Awards for a workplace transformation at law firm Maddocks, combining technology and services from Microsoft, Zerto, Lenovo, Dell, HPE Aruba, Secureworks, Citrix, ServiceNow and Comscentre.
“It’s the job of the partner to stitch together the offers the vendors have. The difference between what Microsoft talks about in terms of their workplace and our modern workspace is that in our workspace practice we also stitch in all the pieces that are missing, for example, Citrix, some patch management technologies like Ivanti, and a wireless platform as well,” Chanter said.
Brennan IT’s chief operating officer, Dayle Wilson, and head of partners and channel Andrew Borthwick were optimistic about the new sales opportunities Microsoft 365 presents.
They told CRN the new inside sales unit and deal support would be useful.
“I think that the establishment of the inside sales team is going to be exciting for us,” Borthwick said. “It’s going to provide a lot of opportunity and allow us to form a deeper and stronger relationship than we already had with Microsoft.”
Wilson said a renewed midmarket focus aligned to Brennan as well.
“From what we’ve heard so far they're going to be looking at more targeted lead generation that will help us. There’s going to be a greater funnel for us to get opportunities that are targeted more at our market, where traditionally they focused more in the upper space, the bigger partners, but the new team is going to target more into the midmarket,” he said.
Wilson would be glad to see Microsoft put more attention on the long tail of partners.
“In the past, they may have focused on 20 key partners and all the rest of us were in the mix occasionally, whereas now they’re saying that whoever has a good opportunity at any time, they’re going to focus on that,” he said. “It’s a little bit transactional, they’ll go where the deals go."