Microsoft makes massive changes to partner programme

Microsoft makes massive changes to partner programme

Microsoft has unveiled changes to its partner programme, which the local subsidiary says is set to be rolled out in New Zealand.

Partner group director Brent Colbert earlier told Reseller News details were under wraps until the start of the Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans, where they have now been revealed.

Microsoft is phasing out its gold, certified and general register tiers and migrating partners to a competency-based model.

Called the Microsoft Partner Network, new categories in the programme are community, subscriber, competency and advanced competency. The existing points model used to assign partners will be discontinued.

“The way to think about those four categorisations is as landing sites,” recently-appointed Microsoft Australia partner strategy and programs directory, says Inese Kingsmill.

“They basically allow partners to, in many regards, tailor the engagement they want to have with Microsoft and with each other.

“It is really around what is the level of engagement and requirement that you want from the Microsoft Partner Network in terms of what it can deliver through connections with peers, customers and with respect to anything else in the programme.”

The software vendor has also created 30 new solution competencies across areas such as infrastructure and business productivity.

The changes will be rolled out over the next two years. In the first 12 months, the company will focus on reorganising partners into the new competency classifications.

Existing Gold partners will retain their classification for the first 12 months, after which time Microsoft will evaluate partner qualifications and certify them according to the new model. Those Gold partners looking to enrol or re-enrol in the programme must also participate in the Customer Satisfaction Index within the last year.

All partners can continue to use current marketing paraphernalia until the 2011 enrolment period. Six months after this date they must adopt the new logo system.

“Everything that those partners have invested in terms of their certifications and commitment to Microsoft, and they currently have, with the program fully transfers across to the new programme,” says Kingsmill.

“It is not like they are losing things they have got now. All of those commitments continue and roll over. The message is continue, don’t stop, keep moving forward with certifications to grow your business as you normally would to make sure you land in the new categorisation of the partner network in the right place.

“It is fair to say we will be looking at our Gold and Certified partners very carefully to make sure they land in the right place and the partners that are currently registered in the programme we will obviously be communicating to them more programmatically and making sure they are staying abreast of the information.”

As part of a swag of announcements made at the partner conference the vendor is: Re-launching its Partner Learning Centre; introducing partner tools for sales and pipeline management; expanding its Profitability Modeller; and introducing a Practice Builder and Services Ready initiative, where partners can accelerate practice development.

It is also offering several new or updated sales and marketing tools along with access to online collaborative portals for technical support and relationship building.

The company also said it will “release the biggest wave of new products and services in its history” over the next 12 months and claimed to have 640,000 partners globally serving 160 million customers.

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