Microsoft Creates New SMB Division To Take Its Cloud Effort To New Heights

In a move to counter threats from new competitors entering the SMB cloud market, Microsoft has created a new division charged with dramatically growing the software giant's SMB partner cloud footprint.

The new division, for the first time, puts all of the U.S. SMB sales, technical, marketing and distribution resources under a single multibillion dollar division with all of the autonomy it needs to rally more than 100,000 U.S. SMB solution providers to take the cloud high ground from rivals like Google.

The new division will be headed by Cindy Bates, a ten-year Microsoft veteran who has risen rapidly through the company. Sources said Bates, who is currently vice president of Microsoft's U.S. Partner Strategy, Marketing and Programs Group, will in effect, become U.S. SMB czar for the $60 billion software giant. Bates will have responsibility for SMB strategy and business development, regional field sales, channel marketing, customer marketing and distribution.

The changes place Microsoft's SMB organization into a similar position as the company's Microsoft Dynamics organization which has end-to-end responsibility for sales and marketing of Microsoft's midmarket-focused Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and CRM software solutions.

The changes were announced in an internal memo that pointed to the SMB segment as "shaping up to be a very competitive battleground" with competitors turning their software guns on Microsoft. The memo cites "new competitors coming in and trying to take market share." The new unit, the internal memo says, will continue to build the "foundation for cloud and annuity penetration."

As part of the restructuring, Jenni Flinders, a ten-year Microsoft veteran who was vice president of U.S. Partner Business Development and Sales, will now focus on Microsoft's larger U.S. partners, including LARs (Large Account Resellers), national system integrators and ISVs along with overseeing Microsoft's partner program initiatives.

That's a major structural change since that distinct group often ended up competing for resources and mind share against SMB partners, sources said.


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