Why Satya Nadella visit marks a new era for the Microsoft channel in NZ

Why Satya Nadella visit marks a new era for the Microsoft channel in NZ

Tech giant targets developers, not traditional resellers, as channel focus shifts.

Satya Nadella - CEO, Microsoft

Satya Nadella - CEO, Microsoft

As the wheels stop spinning, the private jet engine will keep running - such is the brevity of Satya Nadella’s first visit to New Zealand as Microsoft CEO.

Short, sweet and not so subtle.

In touching down on Kiwi shores - for all of seven hours - the charismatic leader will waste no time in outlining the tech giant’s core priorities for the years ahead.

Through headlining the Microsoft Developer Day Aotearoa New Zealand, Nadella will outline how developers can help shape the future with an intelligent cloud platform and artificial intelligence.

In aligning with the developer community, Microsoft is once again sending subtle - or perhaps not so subtle - signals to its traditional channel base.

For this won’t be a trip of channel convenience, there will be no reseller one-on-one meetings or strategic addresses, rather, this visit will lay the groundwork for Microsoft’s future partner strategy in New Zealand.

And as the strong Kiwi contingent who made the trip to 2016 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto can attest, sometimes, it’s not what you say, it’s what you don’t say that counts.

In a serious case of déjà vu, and through keynoting under the banner of “look forward to the future”, Nadella’s visit is as purposeful as it is symbolic.

Why? Because Microsoft’s future vision differs enormously to that of its traditional channel, a channel built on reselling foundations.

Looking ahead, independent software vendors (ISVs) rule the roost, representing the beating heart of Redmond’s new channel.

In New Zealand, Microsoft ISV, Celo, recently struck a deal with the Canterbury Health System, piloting its new secure mobile application ahead of a potential nationwide rollout.

Leveraging the Microsoft Azure platform, Celo is one of many growing examples of ISVs taking centre stage across the country.

Furthermore, distributors are also racing to provide new cloud value through striking Microsoft inspired ISV deals, as emphasised through Synnex’s recent agreement with Kentico in New Zealand.

But the writing has been on the wall for some time for value-added resellers, with a wave of new partners challenging the status quo through leading cloud and mobility solutions - think Leapthought taking home the Business Productivity Partner of the Year award in 2015.

Perhaps Microsoft’s biggest statement however was its acquisition of Wellington-based GreenButton in May 2014, formerly the Microsoft Azure ISV Software Partner of the Year in 2011.

Collectively, it all adds up to one simple message to the reselling channel - catch up, change and pursue profitability through managed services and productising intellectual property (IP).

Similar to Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google and IBM, the onus is now on partners to build and develop unique solutions on top of cloud platforms, offering the originality required to ensure ongoing success.

While the traditional and transactional methods of the channel will not disappear overnight, and nor should such a fallacy be encouraged, the direction of travel is clear.

Having addressed a similar crowd in Australia 24 hours previous, Nadella’s 45 minutes on stage signals a new chapter for the Kiwi channel.

Unsurprisingly, the vendor isn’t completely slamming the door shut on its core base of VARs, but at the same time, it’s deliberately shifting focus to ISVs.

And when the door finally manages to close at the crowded ASB Waterfront Theatre on November 17, perhaps those left outside should pause and ask - am I a partner of the future?

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