Microsoft Continues to Evolve Worldwide Partner Program

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MINNEAPOLIS — July 9, 2005 — Today at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2005, Microsoft Corp. unveiled the next evolution of the Microsoft® Partner Program, the cornerstone of engagement for Microsoft’s worldwide network of business partners, to enhance the vital link between the company’s industry-leading platform and its partners and to create a strategic advantage by which partners can better serve customers worldwide. Building on the momentum of the program’s launch in 2003, Microsoft will introduce four new Microsoft Solution Competencies later this year and has announced a new competency-like designation that is immediately available for partners specializing in small business.

The program will provide simplified membership management for partners, expansion of support and training resources, and enhancements to online tools and infrastructure to help reduce partners’ cost of doing business and increase their market reach and profitability.

“Microsoft takes a truly collaborative approach to working with partners,” said Allison Watson, vice president of the Worldwide Partner Sales and Marketing Group at Microsoft. “The strategic evolution of the Microsoft Partner Program is a reflection of our commitment to working closely with our industry partners to build and refine a world-class program for the sole purpose of helping them meet and exceed their business objectives. Microsoft’s success and the success of its partners are one and the same.”

New Competencies Help Partners Extend Market Reach

Microsoft Solution Competencies serve as one of the key cornerstones of the Microsoft Partner Program, allowing partners to clearly define their areas of expertise in specific solutions that reflect their business model. At the same time Microsoft Solution Competencies make it easier for partners to position their specialties to customers, better align their businesses with Microsoft product groups and marketing initiatives, and form closer relationships with other Microsoft partners.

Building on the momentum of the existing Microsoft Solution Competencies, Microsoft unveiled four new competencies and a new competency-like designation to help better match a partner’s business focus to a customer’s needs. The new Microsoft Solutions Competencies include the following:

Custom Development Solutions provides support for technology partners that deliver custom-built value-added solutions for customers that require optimization of business capabilities using the Microsoft platform. Specializations within the Custom Development Solutions Competency include these:

Applications Infrastructure Development is designed for partners that deliver applications built on core Microsoft products and that support the infrastructure which manages the business process in a customer organization.

Smart Client Development is designed for partners that provide custom-developed solutions accessed via a client, such as Microsoft Office or a Windows® operating system.

Web Development is designed for partners that focus on Web-enabled deployment solutions for customers.

Mobility Solutions supports mobility-focused independent software vendors (ISVs), system integrators, consultants and mobile solutions resellers that have a goal to extend their business models, and infrastructure partners that build mobile components for existing solutions on the Microsoft Windows Mobile™ platform.

Licensing Solutions were developed for partners that specialize in licensing and software asset management (SAM) solutions. The Licensing Solutions Competency has two specializations:

License Delivery, created for partners with proven expertise in design, recommendation and acquisition of Microsoft volume licensing options

Software Asset Management, which positions partners to take advantage of a growing demand for SAM solutions to help meet tighter governance and corporate compliance requirements

OEM Hardware Solutions is intended for partners that build and deliver desktop or server hardware systems and those that design and manufacture hardware devices used as computer parts, peripherals or accessories. There are two specializations in this competency:

System Builder Specialization recognizes partners with proven expertise in building, assembling and preinstalling Microsoft software on high-quality PC or server hardware systems.

Device Manufacturer Specialization recognizes partners with proven expertise in designing and manufacturing hardware devices with Microsoft technologies in mind. These devices are used as computer parts, peripherals or accessories. 

Small Business Specialist is a new competency-like designation available for all partners, including registered members. It helps them underscore their skills in providing solutions and services tailored to small-business customers and helps customers easily connect with partners that have the skills and solutions customers need. Those partners that achieve this designation will be highlighted on Microsoft’s Small Business Center site. The Small Business Specialist Community was created to provide easy access to software, training and resources to help partners meet the needs of small-business customers.

In addition to offering new competencies, Microsoft is renaming two of the original nine competencies to better reflect the value and purpose of these competencies and offer partners an opportunity for more-targeted segmentation.

The Microsoft Business Intelligence Competency will be renamed Data Management Solutions with Database Management and Business Intelligence as the underlying specializations to simplify the program experience for partners delivering against the Microsoft SQL Server platform.

The Microsoft Integrated E-Business Solutions Competency will be renamed Business Process and Integration to better reflect its support for partners that are integrating systems and providing interoperability services.

Finally, the existing Microsoft Business Solutions Competencies will see a new and deeper focus on verticalization to help partners focus their efforts on vertical opportunities in their local markets.

Tools to Drive Business Success

The Microsoft Partner Program has enhanced its benefits, resources, tools and processes to help improve operational efficiency and maximize business potential. The following provide world-class training and enablement, as well as marketing and sales resources and tools.

Partner Learning Center is a single location that provides partners with Microsoft training online. The Partner Learning Center will be rolled out to 60 countries in 34 languages. Benefits include a combination of global offerings via the Web and local delivery of training and better tracking of completed training.

Partner Channel Builder is a networking tool that helps partners create business relationships among other Microsoft partners that have complementary skills and expertise. The purpose of the Partner Channel Builder is to drive collaboration that will help partners realize new business opportunities, expand services to existing clients, and deliver innovative, integrated solutions.

Partner Marketing Center enables partners to directly market solutions by delivering modular go-to-market and industry-focused materials in multiple applications, making it easier for them to create and execute customized marketing campaigns using the tools available in the Microsoft Office System.

Partner Solution Profiler helps partners market solutions online to extend new business efforts to potential customers. It also gives partners online access to networking opportunities with other Microsoft partners.

Solution Finder provides customers with a way to find companies and solutions on the Microsoft Web site through keyword searches that map to their business.

Partner Vertical Resource Center is a new online tool that will assist partners in expanding their vertical market focus by offering a framework for opportunity identification, business planning and marketing execution.

New! Response Management for Partners. Rolled out earlier this year, this new, security-enhanced, confidential Web-based tool offers Gold Certified and Certified partners a way to escalate Microsoft-related customer and partner issues directly to Microsoft.

Telephone-based Presales Technical Support (TPTS), now with Competitive Sales Assistance, is an unlimited benefit for Microsoft Certified and Gold Certified partners. Available either by telephone or online, TPTS is designed to assist partners in closing competitive sales by leveraging the expertise of Microsoft’s internal presales support professionals to review product features and capabilities, troubleshoot deployment problems and give scenario-specific configuration guidance.

For partners, these new and existing tools should provide value across their entire business cycle, helping improve their efficiency and driving new opportunities. “The Partner Channel Builder tool, with its two-way model, is making communications much easier,” said Julie West, vice president of operations with independent software vendor WennSoft in New Berlin, Wis. “As a vertically specialized ISV, we don’t sell direct, which makes locating VARs that specialize in the same vertical market essential to our success. To find an appropriate VAR in a specific geographic area used to require several phone calls. But this tool makes communications much easier.”

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