Microsoft: A Kinder, Gentler Partner?1:31 PM EST Mon. Jul. 17, 2000
Microsoft Corp. is promising its solution providers a kinder, gentler and sleeker software partner. Speaking Saturday morning to a collection of Microsoft solution providers assembled at the company's Fusion 2000 event, Ian Rogoff, Microsoft's vice president of enterprise services and its partner group, said the company is moving to consolidate and simplify its relationships with partners.
Rogoff kicked off his address by trying to drive home the opportunities that exist for today's IT professionals. "We used to think of finance as the language of business, but finance never really drives top-line growth," he said. "For the first time in many, many years, on a broad scale, technology actually drives top-line growth, whether it be in the commerce space, the market-creation space or the customer space. Simply put, technology is fast becoming the language of business. For our partners, it's the biggest opportunity.
Rogoff says Microsoft Consulting services should grow by roughly 25 each year for the next three years. "That means we actually lose market share in almost every market around the world in terms of services."
In addition, he Microsoft has roughly a 63 percent billable utilization, well below the 80 to 85 percent billable utilization experienced by many of its partners. He pointed to the company's training efforts, which don't count against the billable utilization.
"So when you think about Microsoft services, there are two things I want you to take away," says Rogoff. The first is that we absolutely have to get strategic technology wins in an account, and we have to do whatever it takes to get those wins. You should have discussions with Microsoft Consulting services in your geography as to what it considers strategic wins in that geography. In some, it might be B2B, and in others it might be CRM or core commerce transactional Web sites."
Rogoff, who participated in a number of partner meetings this week, says one of the most common concerns expressed by Microsoft partners is the company's need to increase its cooperative efforts. "The thing partners keep telling us is, 'We know the opportunities are there, but we want you to increase marketing efforts and make the programs relevant to us and tell us how we can participate and make more money on your platforms," said Rogoff.
Rogoff said that over the past year, Microsoft's partners have made a number of requests, including asking for a more scalable, available platform; better business development support; services and solution development support; technical readiness assistance; ASP support; and a clarity on the role played by Microsoft and its tools in the marketplace.
As a result of the partner feedback obtained over the past year, the software giant has devised a new strategy to evolve its partner-facing programs, says Rogoff. "We do need to evolve our programs," he said. "We need to evolve and adopt new models, particularly around ISPs and ASPs."
He said Microsoft's expanded commitment to its partners will hit on a number of key points, including: providing a consistent, integrated platform for partners in Windows 2000; expanding technical support and consulting; giving partners better sales and marketing support; expanding the partner community development; and continuing thought-leadership initiatives, particularly surrounding its .NET strategy.
"We need to make sure our partner approach is based on your core competencies. We need to improve our ability to adapt to that."
When talking about Microsoft's partner initiatives, Rogoff said the No. 1 priority is simplifying the way it communicates and works with partners.
"We need to really renew our partner programs," Rogoff said. "There are too many disparate organizations inside Microsoft for partners. And customers tell us there are too many referral sites-- about 14. We need to make a renewed commitment to you to make all that a lot simpler."
In particular, that means creating a single Microsoft partner brand with a single organization reaching out to partners. "It will have many segments and components, but this is where we are going to put the energy."
He also spoke about the opportunities for partners surrounding many of Microsoft's offerings, from its family of servers to its .NET and ASP initiatives.