Microsoft announced yesterday it is expanding the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program (MCPP) Solutions Partner designations for ISV solutions and training solutions providers, enhancing its efforts for diverse-led partners, and continuing its AI push, in a wide-ranging press briefing on the state of the partner ecosystem led by Nicole Dezen (pictured), chief partner officer and corporate vice president, Global Partner Solutions.
“Six months ago, we launched the new Cloud Partner Program that brings everything under a single umbrella across the pool of the partner lifecycle, including onboarding, skilling, go to market, and co-selling,” said Julie Sanford, vice president, partner GTM, programs and experiences. “Our goal with the partner program was to drastically simplify partners' ability to go to market with us and to better differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
The new ISV designations announced yesterday are aligned to how Microsoft goes to market and how customers are buying: by industry, by use cases across industries, and by line-of-business imperative like marketing and sales. Availability is planned for Microsoft’s fiscal year 2024.
“Eligibility will be based on technical criteria, Microsoft commercial marketplace presence, and demonstrated customer success,” explained Casey Magee, Microsoft vice president, global ISV sales and digital natives. “And after attaining this designation, partners will receive benefits that help their go-to-market capabilities.”
Microsoft also announced that Solutions Partner designations for training services and support services will launch later this year. “We have a homecoming for learning partners who are growing the skills and capacity of our channel,” said Dezen. “This is geared to those organizations who package and provide Microsoft courseware and help other partners grow their expertise. Scaling and enablement are critical to building channel capacity and capability and we've seen 350,000 plus certifications that partners have attained since July 2022. In a world where technology capability is outpacing the size of the technical workforce, we are so thankful to have learning partners as a core to our program.”
The new designations come on the heels of last week’s introduction of four new Business Application specializations aligned to the Business Applications solution area for Microsoft Dynamics 365. The new specializations are Finance, Sales, Service, and Supply Chain. With these additions, Microsoft now offers a total of 28 specializations.
Microsoft also announced that it will soon be offering multiparty private offers in the Microsoft commercial marketplace, enabling partners to come together, create personalized offers with custom payouts, and sell directly to Microsoft customers. Multiparty private offers will enter private preview this spring and be made publicly available in the near future, according to the company. In the coming months, partners will also be able to transact containers and VM software reservations through the commercial marketplace.
In other news, Microsoft announced it is enabling partners to self-attest relevant diversity and social good business classifications in the Partner Center. “By enabling partner access across 16 countries to differentiate themselves, Microsoft has made it easier for customers to discover diverse minority owned businesses. And so this is just a critical aspect of our commercial marketplace,” said Magee.
On April 19, Microsoft will also hold a virtual Commercial Marketplace Impact Event for diverse and minority-owned partners, as well as partners with social impact solutions (e.g., sustainability, accessibility, nonprofit) focused on educating those partners on opportunities to accelerate their growth through the Microsoft commercial marketplace.
“We are committed to enabling inclusive economic opportunity working together with our diverse partner communities,” said Dezen.
Finally, Microsoft announced on Tuesday that GPT-4 is available in preview in Azure OpenAI Service. Customers can begin applying for access to GPT-4 today. Billing for all GPT-4 usage begins April 1.
“As customers around the world seek to explore the new capabilities that AI can bring to their business and their workforce, Microsoft's partners will have a unique opportunity to serve these customer needs,” said Dezen. With GPT-4, “This brings the latest generation of large language models to our Azure partners and customers. This means that partners can streamline processes, save time, and improve overall efficiency so that they can focus on important day-to-day operations.”