By Nick Parker – Corporate Vice President, Global Partner Solutions
The Microsoft partner ecosystem is extensive, diverse and powerful. For decades it has been and continues to be at the center of how Microsoft delivers technology, services and cloud-to-edge solutions that enable business transformation for customers around the world. In fact, partners influence more than 95% of Microsoft’s commercial revenue, either directly, or in partnership with Microsoft.
Given the COVID-19, economic and geo-political challenges everyone has experienced in the last year, and the many ways that partners across our ecosystem have helped customers build resiliency, adapt to change and overcome challenges, today’s updates and perspective as to how partners are innovating, taking advantage of new opportunities and realizing growth are particularly relevant. In the last year, our partners have played critical roles, providing services and solutions that enable digital transformation for organizations and entire industries, and delivering innovative devices that help people adapt to new ways of working, learning, collaborating and staying connected. Partners make more possible, and the innovative devices, services, applications and cloud-to-edge solutions they deliver are empowering people and organizations around the world to do and achieve more. Here are some examples of how Microsoft and our partners are enabling innovation:
Partners across the ecosystem, including more than 800 Independent Software Vendors, 17 device partners and over 1,000 Systems Integrators, are continuously delivering innovative Teams devices, Teams apps and custom Teams solutions on our technology stack – all of which enable enhanced collaboration and increased productivity for customers.
In the last year, Microsoft and its device partners have expanded our vision and device portfolios to address the evolving needs of millions of consumers, students and businesses around the world who are still working and learning remotely. In addition to PCs, this includes collaboration devices, smart meeting room systems and true intelligent edge solutions for smart buildings. Conference Room solutions represent tremendous opportunity for partners as there is an estimated market opportunity of 48 million meeting rooms with only a 6% penetration rate, according to Wainhouse Research.[i]
In December, Microsoft announced general availability of Azure Stack HCI, along with new Azure Stack HCI integrated systems from Dell Technologies, HPE, Fujitsu, Lenovo and DataON. In addition, a variety of partners are using the Intel Select Solutions for Azure Stack HCI offerings to simplify customers’ Azure Stack HCI deployments, and to enable the scale and efficiencies they need to realize business transformation. New Independent Software Vendors, including Altaro software, Commvault, Datadog, Veeam and Veritas, now support Azure Stack HCI, ensuring that customers have more tools to choose from.
In October 2020, we announced general availability of the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare that provides trusted and integrated capabilities that deliver automation and efficiency on high-value workflows and enables deep data analysis functionality for both structured and unstructured data so customers can turn insight into action. Microsoft Independent Software Vendor (ISV) partners, including Allscripts, AvTex, Innovaccer, Mazik Global and Popcorn Apps, and system integrator partners, including Accenture, Avanade, Cognizant, DXC Technology, EY, HCL, KPMG and PWC, are providing industry-specific IP and solutions, built on Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, that address the most urgent challenges the healthcare industry faces today.
Microsoft continued to see growth in the 2nd quarter of FY21, especially across the Microsoft Commercial cloud (+34% YOY). This trajectory is expected to continue as Microsoft partners build devices, applications and cloud-to-edge solutions. We are dedicated to helping partners continue to build resiliency, adapt to change and overcome challenges. We do this by investing in the resources, tools and opportunities that allow them to co-innovate and develop next-generation solutions that help differentiate in the marketplace, gain market share, support their success and meet customer needs.
Below are some of the investments we have made and opportunities that we believe will enable partners to innovate and grow in 2021 and beyond:
Partner program updates
Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program: The Cloud Solution Provider program helps partners move beyond just reselling licenses to become partners who are more involved in their customers’ businesses. We are investing in the program to help partners embrace the benefits of digital transformation including migration of open licensing into CSP, perpetual software licensing in CSP and providing a CSP Program Guidebook for partners.
The commercial marketplace: Microsoft has made publishing solutions, services and offers in Microsoft’s commercial marketplace easier, so partners can reach nearly 4 million active users across 140-plus countries. In addition, partners can realize new opportunities by participating in Microsoft’s co-selling programs.
Co-sell: We are increasing our focus on co-selling within the small- and mid-sized business segment (SMB). This includes making targeted marketing investments in top SMB customers, supporting and growing our ecosystem of ISV partners who serve SMBs and streamlining the way we help partners develop their practices.
New commerce experience: The new Microsoft commerce experience will create a consistent and simplified purchase experience, giving customers greater flexibility in how and where they buy Microsoft and partner solutions. The new commerce platform will let partners reach more customers and help influence their digital transformation strategies while reducing licensing complexity and costs so their own businesses can be more sustainable.
Partner Center: Partner Center is a centralized place for partners to manage their relationships with Microsoft, customers and other partners. After a multi-year effort to build a unified partner experience, Microsoft reaches its final milestone this spring with nearly all channel capabilities delivered and globally available inside Partner Center. The unified access to processes and programs include co-sell, CSP, solution publishing in the commercial marketplace, referrals, and Microsoft Partner Network benefits, such as certifications and incentives. Using the Insights dashboard, organizations have access to powerful reporting with a unified view of data across different partner programs, licensing models and products.
New resources and offerings
Advanced specializations: In January, we launched our first two advanced specializations for Business Applications, the Small and Midsize Business Management advanced specialization and the Low Code Application Development advanced specialization. This means we now have advanced specializations across all five commercial solution areas – modern workplace, business applications, Azure (apps and infrastructure, and data and AI), security. Advanced specializations provide an opportunity for partners to demonstrate their experience in specific technical scenarios and enable customers to identify the partners that best fit their needs.
Technology is more important than ever. In times like these, partners who embrace change have opportunities to drive digital transformation around the world. We look forward to continuing the journey with partners to build cloud-to-edge solutions that make more possible for many years to come.