Microsoft is enhancing the cloud capabilities of its core channel base, through new resources based around connecting customers and driving referrals for partners.
Outlined during the final day of 2016 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto, the vendor introduced new practices to drive greater profitability in the cloud.
Succinctly put, plans are in place for Microsoft to double its Internal User Rights (IUR) investment, better resource its 17,000+ CSP partners, introduce a referral engine and new branding for gold competency partners.
“Many Microsoft partners have already embraced the changes in our industry, driving a rapid transformation of the IT landscape for our customers,” Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Partner Group, Gavriella Schuster, said.
“This digital transformation is having a significant impact to their customers and their bottom line.”
Following a day crammed with announcements around Azure, Office 365, Windows 10 and Surface, the closing keynote of the conference focused less than the technology, but more around the business of instigating change.
To facilitate such change, Schuster said Microsoft is making inroads to connect partners with customers at a deeper and more frequent level, built around updated partner branding and improved referral engines.
Currently, Microsoft delivers millions of referrals to its channel every year, with plans now in place to bring partners to the attention of the customer sooner.
“We want every referral to be highly qualified and easy to process, so we’ve re-imagined our referral engine,” Schuster added.
“Now, your solutions and profiles will be syndicated across our digital properties and communications so customers will find you and understand your offerings before they even engage with you.”
According to Schuster, customers also believe a partner’s endorsement from Microsoft adds greater value, prompting a change around the vendor’s competency badges approach.
“We’re rolling out updated competency badges and gold partners will be able to download new ones with the Microsoft logo as an endorsement,” Schuster added.
To help customers more quickly identify Microsoft partners, the vendor is also updating competency badges to unify how partners show up with customers.
“We’ve simplified the application certification process to enable more partners to get certified and take advantage of the program resources that come along with that,” Schuster explained.
“It’s always our goal to strive for less hassle, simpler solutions, and more profitability.”
In addition, Schuster said the tech giant is doubling its investment in free software, cloud services, and platforms available to partners.
“To help accelerate the next generation of success for our partners, we’re providing more access to free software and services via Internal Use Rights (IUR),” Schuster explained.
With more than 90 percent of the company’s revenue coming through its channel, Schuster said the move is designed to allow partners to build solutions on top of Microsoft technologies.
“When partners use IURs, their deals are approximately three times larger,” Schuster added.
For Schuster, in her first address as the company’s new global channel chief, profitable Microsoft partners can be defined through four different attributes.
Centred around the need to differentiate, modernise sales and marketing, optimise operations and deliver customer lifetime value, Schuster said “partners must be where the customer is” as new buyers and new buying cycles create opportunities across all market segments.
James Henderson is attending 2016 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto as a guest of Microsoft.