Get Geared Up For Microsoft WWPC: Prince's Out, B-52s Are In


There'll be big doings at Microsoft's annual partner confab next week in (hopefully) sunny Minneapolis.

We all know by now that the company will detail its "Tailwind" sales reorg.

Net, net, net this is the first major re-segmenting of Microsoft's customer base in five years. Twenty percent of the 4,600 named accounts now serviced by the company's enterprise sales group will now be handled by SMS&P. Some SMS&P accounts will move to named account status, although the total number of named accounts will likely fall, according to enterprise sales guy Simon Witts. He and others say the move will increase partner opportunities. The solutions-selling aspect of the big plan has been characterized as "Son of Sable" the solution-selling push Microsoft inaugurated four years ago. And which met with mixed success.

Some partners agree that this is good news for channel folks. Some MBS and Gold partners concur that Microsoft has to put more "skin in the game" on MBS deals to bolster its business apps push especially into the upper mid market where Axapta contends with offerings from the enterprise players who are trying to move into smaller accounts.

"Microsoft needs to step up here in order compete with the likes of SAP and Oracle. They cannot only let the channel do this. They need to step up. If they do not, the push against SAP and Oracle will die on the vine," says one long-time MBS partner.

This partner contends that SAP and Oracle are assuring customers that there will be the mythical "one throat to choke" on any deals with the vendor basically acting as prime contractor on deals and bringing in partners as needed.

Others are skeptical--they say Microsoft is shunting off deadwood accounts to partners, keeping the best for itself and a few rarified integration partners. They also doubt Microsoft's assurances that its nascent managed services experiments a la Energizer, will evolve into partner-led opportunities.

"I think when they say partner led, 'partner' could mean MBS partners, or it could mean Comcast or EDS. And my money is that the big guys are the ones who will win," said another.

Watch for Microsoft to cut back the number of MBS partners managed nationally from a little over a dozen to less than a handful.

On a lighter note, Microsoft insiders were pushing to get His Purpleness (and Minneapolis homey) Prince to entertain at the big fete. But word is Prince or The-Artist-Formerly-And-Once-Again-Known-As-Prince is out and the B-52s are in. Don't get me wrong--I love shiny, happy people, but Prince is, well, PRINCE!!!!