Microsoft Unveils Increased Investments to Help Its Worldwide Channel of Business Partners

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MINNEAPOLIS — July 9, 2005 — Microsoft Corp. today announced enhanced and expanded resources that will be made available in fiscal year 2006 to help them reduce the cost of doing business, increase their market reach and increase their profitability. Those resources will be delivered through programs, tools and infrastructure, and sales and marketing support, as well as additional licensing and financing options.

Microsoft also announced that each of its global subsidiaries plans to reallocate 50 percent of global marketing funds, previously earmarked for direct customer marketing, to help partners build their businesses through joint marketing efforts with Microsoft. The goal of the new approach, called “through-partner marketing,” is to leverage the highly recognized Microsoft brand to increase visibility for partners, to extend partners’ business opportunities by more closely aligning their business goals with Microsoft’s marketing strategies, and to increase the added value to customers.

“We’re creating business opportunity for our partners, and in turn partners are betting their business with us,” said Allison Watson, vice president of the Worldwide Partner Sales and Marketing Group at Microsoft. “In the upcoming year, Microsoft’s focus will be to drive partner profitability by providing world-class training and enablement, and sales and marketing resources to help reduce the costs of our partners’ businesses and increase customer touch and velocity.”

A Program That Builds Stronger Relationships That Drive Sales

Microsoft unveiled an enhanced edition of the Microsoft® Partner Program, a foundation for more efficient relationships with its business partners. The company is gearing its investments toward providing value at every stage of partners’ business cycle through one of the Microsoft Partner Program competencies, which are determined by the partner’s area of expertise and are used by customers to help them quickly identify a Microsoft partner best suited to their business need.

Building on the momentum created by the program’s 2003 launch, Microsoft this fall will launch four new Microsoft Solution Competencies and a new competency-like designation for partners focusing on small business, simplified membership management for partners, expansion of support and training resources, and enhancements to online tools and infrastructure. The new Microsoft Solutions Competencies include Custom Development Solutions, Mobility Solutions, Licensing Solutions and OEM Hardware Solutions. The new Small Business Specialist Community, which is available for all partners, including registered members, will help partners underscore their skills in providing solutions and services tailored to small businesses. It was created to provide easy access to software, training and resources to help partners meet the needs of small-business customers.

Tools to Drive Business Success

The Microsoft Partner Program has enhanced its benefits, resources, and tools and processes to improve operational efficiency and maximize business potential. The following are new highlights of the program:

Partner Learning Center is a single location where partners can go to access Microsoft training online. The Partner Learning Center will be rolled out to 60 subsidiaries in 34 languages. Benefits include a combination of global offerings via the Web and local delivery of training, and better tracking of completed training.

Response Management for Partners is a security-enhanced, confidential Web-based tool that offers Microsoft Certified and Gold Certified partners a way to escalate Microsoft-related customer and partner issues directly to Microsoft.

Solution Finder is a new way for customers to find companies and solutions on Microsoft’s Web site through keyword searches that map to their business. Solution Finder will also serve as the collective database for vertical partner profiles, allowing partners to more clearly define their vertical alignment and expertise.

Telephone-based Presales Technical Support (TPTS) now with Competitive Sales Assistanceis a free and unlimited benefit for Certified and Gold Certified partners. It is available by telephone or online and 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.

Sales and Marketing Support and Offers

Additional resources that will be available to partners include global print advertising, recruitment campaigns, simplified competency enrollment, enhanced go-to-market campaigns, product launches and offers, Microsoft Partner Program newsletters, and community-building events such as the Worldwide Partner Conference and more localized Partner Advisory Councils.

Microsoft will continue to actively promote its business partners directly to customers by including a partner-based call to action in all customer-facing product advertisements and on Microsoft Web sites. For fiscal year 2006, improvements to the go-to-market campaigns will include a reduced and more-targeted bill of materials and a more modular approach to content development to facilitate greater customization and localization.

Microsoft will also provide value-added sales offers to help partners more quickly close sales with customers that want to upgrade or migrate to more-current Microsoft solutions. Areas in which Microsoft is offering programs and resources for partners include Microsoft Office System upgrades, targeted support for businesses that currently run on legacy or competitive platforms and that need an easy-to-purchase package to invest in their core IT infrastructure, businesses interested in upgrading to Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, and campaigns to facilitate migrations to Microsoft server products.

Investments in Partner Roles

Microsoft also announced that it is making significant investments in its Partner Account Manager (PAM) and Partner Technology Specialist (PTS) roles. For Partner Account Managers, Microsoft is helping enhance the career path for professionals in these positions by identifying several levels of skills and value that PAMs can aspire to in their professional development. In addition, Microsoft is creating a specialized curriculum to improve Partner Account Managers’ business planning and sales engagement skills so they can acquire the disciplines necessary to help partners navigate sales and customer scenarios. For Partner Technology Specialists, Microsoft has created a discipline called Skill Builder that they can share with partners to improve technical sales skills in the partner organization that can be leveraged in sales demonstrations.

Solution-Specific Partner Resources

Microsoft Office System. In July, Microsoft will launch several new resources to aid partners and developers building Microsoft Office System solutions, as well as offering partners a unique opportunity to receive early beta code of “Office 12.”

Free Information Worker Solution Services supporting the Office Professional Solutions GTM and Portals GTM will help partners immediately deliver repeatable service offerings that help customers see the value of information work to their business.

Real-time collaboration (RTC) presence toolkit provides visual controls that allow application developers to easily embed presence, instant messaging and call control into their business applications developed with Visual Studio®.

Information Worker Competency Challenge is an opportunity for Microsoft Certified partners that achieve the IW Solutions Competency by Nov. 1 to receive Tech Beta 1 of “Office 12.”

Microsoft Business Solutions–Axapta. The Microsoft Axapta® team will be making the Microsoft Axapta 3.0 Rapid Configuration Tool available to Worldwide Partner Conference 2005 attendees. Rapid Configuration is a wizard-based configuration, system setup and implementation tool that significantly reduces implementation times and total cost of ownership (TCO) for customers of Microsoft Axapta.

Microsoft Business Solutions–Great Plains. The upcoming Microsoft Great Plains® 9.0 release will repackage its Web services offering to allow partners to connect vertical solutions with no cost to customers. The new release will mark the return of a source code program that grants partners access to a full set of tools and architecture. In addition, enhanced integration between Microsoft Great Plains 8.0 and Microsoft Business Solutions Retail Management System 1.2 will offer partners a new opportunity to sell to multistore, midsize retailers a comprehensive solution that ties the front office and back office together.

Microsoft Business Solutions–Navision. Microsoft Navision® offers a selection of Rapid Implementation Methodology tools, which enables ISVs and VARs to dramatically increase the speed and quality of their implementations while lowering the total cost of ownership for their customers. The Rapid Implementation Methodology will get the customer up and running in as little as nine days. The tools consist of a project schedule to map the scope of the implementation, questionnaires to collect key business information, industry data files to upload industry-specific data, an implementation process tool, and industry mapping files to help import business data.

Microsoft Business Solutions–Solomon. The Microsoft Solomon product group is supporting vertical-specific partners with ProjectsTV.com, an educational portal for project-driven companies that delivers TV-like broadcasting via the Web. Content for ProjectsTV.com is centered on the theme of improving project performance to help project-driven organizations achieve more.

Microsoft Business Process and Integration Division–Partner Toolkit. The Microsoft Business Process and Integration (BPI) Division today released a comprehensive CD to help partners gain technical readiness, develop sales strategies, and receive guidance in developing tailored demand-generation activities. The toolkit is available in the BPI booths at the conference and via the Partner Portal.

Security Solutions. To help support the business models of Microsoft’s security partners, the company is expanding the scope of the security competency by adding two specializations:

Security Management aligns to partners that bring to market services to develop IT security strategies, policies and procedures, risk assessment and management, and overall IT security management services.

Infrastructure Security is for partners that are focused on helping secure the Windows® platforms and network infrastructure. This includes server, client, mobility and embedded operating systems, network infrastructure, and perimeter products.

Additional Resources Offered to Help Business Partners Expand Market Share

Microsoft has also invested in its partner channel via other programs and initiatives, including the following:

IP indemnification will upgrade the indemnification coverage for PC manufacturers, including its larger original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and smaller OEM System Builder partners, OEM distributors, and independent software vendor (ISV) Royalty partners. These partners will receive expanded, and in some cases new, indemnity.

Microsoft Financing, formerly called Microsoft Capital, will expand offerings in nine countries to help customers finance their total solution, including the hardware, services and software. The offering is designed to help business partners close more deals more quickly with improved processes and build services revenue and stronger relationships with customers.

Open Value will be consolidated into a comprehensive worldwide program beginning in October to provide a more seamless customer experience globally and streamlined efficiencies for sales partners. The enhancements made to the Open Value program will provide customers, specifically small and midmarket companies, with simpler licensing that should help control costs and manage upgrades.

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