Microsoft sheds light on restructure of partner program details at Inspire 2017 in Washington DC

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Microsoft sheds light on restructure of partner program details at Inspire 2017 in Washington DC
Judson Althoff, Microsoft

Microsoft has shed some light on its new channel program during Inspire 2017 as the company undergoes a global cloud-focused sales reorganisation.

On day two of Microsoft's rebranded worldwide partner conference, global vice president of the One Commercial Partner group Judson Althoff announced changes to the company’s commercial model across enterprise and SMB, with Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 central products to new solutions.

Microsoft has reiterated four solution areas at the conference: modern workplace, business applications, applications and infrastructure, and data and AI. The company is targeting six industry verticals: education, financial services, government, health, manufacturing and retail.

Changes to the commercial model include new structures under three units: an account team unit, a specialist team unit and a customer success unit. 

"The first thing that you need to know about the new commercial model is that we're aligning all of our account team units around the world by industry. We will develop that subject matter expertise, the better ability to serve our customers digitally," Althoff told partners at the conference.

"The second thing you need to know is that all of our specialist technology units around the world will be aligned by these four solution areas. We're focusing on where the customers want us to be and adding technical expertise to bring their vision to life.

"The third thing that we're doing is we're building a formal customer success organisation.  We've learned a lot over the last several years with cloud solution architects and data solution architects and some of our best and highest-growing accounts around the world.

"Think of these folks as non-billable resources that you can partner with to help customers get real value out of the cloud solutions they've acquired."

In enterprise, these three units will serve marketing and operations, One Commercial Partner, enterprise services and commercial software engineering.

In SMB, the commercial model will consist of a global demand centre, inside sales, marketing and operations, field sales and the One Commercial Partner group. The divisions align with the One Commercial Partner group’s three-faceted approach to partner business of “build-with, go-to-market and sell-with”.

"We're investing heavily in inside sales capabilities to bridge the rich marketing assets we have, our global demand centre and all of the campaigns that come from it with partner opportunities," Althoff said.

"This organisation will feed leads to you to help drive us towards that total addressable market. And the final thing you need to know... is that the One Commercial Partner is critical to our success in the enterprise and in the small, medium and corporate space and that we will always be a partner-led, partner-first company."

Vertical industries

Toni Townes-Whitley, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of industry, discussed new roles geared around addressing Microsoft’s focus industries.

Of particular note was the new enterprise channel manager roles – people dedicated to identifying opportuntunities in those six industries.

“This globally distributed force will be 100 percent dedicated to you and help you sell solutions built with Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Office, and Dynamics 365. Together these programs represent a quarter of a billion-dollar investment to materially increase our partner-dedicated personnel and add to our new Azure co-sell incentives,” Microsoft’s Ron Huddleston wrote in a blog earlier in the week.

Townes-Whitley also highlighted six additional industry dedicated roles, which include staff in the account teams unit, account executives, account tech specialists, channel managers, industry architects and industry solution executives.

Townes-Whitley described three tools designed to help partners achieve business across the industry segments. Solutions maps for engineering, sales and marketing teams will lay out approaches to business for partners, a ‘Book of Dreams’ designed to envision new ideas for customers, and playbooks, which offer guidance on executing those solutions.

Details come following news of a global reorganisation of Microsoft’s sales teams to focus on Azure cloud sales, with early reports estimating the company planned 3000 job cuts, about 70 percent of which would be made outside of the US.

The journalist travelled to Inspire as a guest of Microsoft.

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