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Microsoft Outlines Dramatically Revamped Sales and Partner Strategy

On the second day of the company’s Inspire partner conference, Microsoft’s Judson Althoff (pictured) provided a detailed look at a new organizational model aimed at delivering complete solutions in targeted markets to customers in specific industries. By Rich Freeman

Microsoft provided attendees at its 2017 Inspire partner conference, which is taking place this week in Washington D.C., a detailed look at the sweeping realignment of its partner and sales organization it put into place earlier this month in conjunction with the start of its 2018 fiscal year.

The revamped strategy and supporting organizational model, which task all of Microsoft’s sales and partner resources with delivering complete solutions in targeted markets to customers in specific industries, is designed to tap into what the Redmond, Wash.-based technology giant says is a $4.5 trillion opportunity fueled by cloud computing, the rapid proliferation of “intelligent edge” hardware like Internet of Things sensors, and the digital transformation those two trends enable.

“It is in fact a new world of opportunity for all of us,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president of Microsoft’s worldwide commercial business, in a morning keynote today.

Going forward, he continued, Microsoft’s partner organization and salesforce will be structured to deliver joint Microsoft-partner offerings in four solution areas across six industries.

Microsoft dubs the four solution areas modern workplace, business applications, applications and infrastructure, and data and artificial intelligence.

The first of those encompasses technologies for end users and endpoints like PCs, smartphones, and tablets, and incorporates Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system and expanding Surface hardware line.

Business applications corresponds to cloud-based products like the Office 365 collaboration suite and Dynamics 365 line-of-business platform, as well as the Microsoft 365 solution that Microsoft unveiled yesterday.

In the back office, the applications and infrastructure solution area covers cloud-based servers and associated technology in Microsoft’s Azure public cloud as well as on-premises server products such as the Windows Server 2016 operating system. Data and artificial intelligence, finally, addresses rising demand for business analytics and machine learning solutions.

Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner group, which the company officially launched yesterday at Inspire, and entire global salesforce have been structured to develop and market vertical-specific solutions in each of those four areas for customers in the financial services, retail, education, government, healthcare, and manufacturing industries.

Microsoft’s sales team has included industry and solution specialists in the past, but this is the first time in the company’s history that its entire strategy for driving revenue with commercial customers has been comprehensively and exclusively oriented around vertical solutions.

As Ron Huddleston, the corporate vice president in charge of One Commercial Partner, outlined yesterday at Inspire, that group focuses on three core missions: building solutions alongside partners, bringing those solutions to market, and co-selling those solutions with its channel.

In support of what Microsoft calls the “build-with” mission, it has equipped its sales organization with technical specialist units for each of the solution areas and industries Microsoft is targeting.

“If you want to build with us, we’re going to build with you,” Althoff said this morning.

A new channel manager role will support the “sell-with” mission by playing matchmaker between customers and partners.

“They're focused on bringing the right partner in at the right time to the right customer,” said Huddleston during yesterday’s general session.

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