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Microsoft's 2012 Worldwide Partner Conference, held earlier this month in Toronto, marked the second anniversary of Jon Roskill's appointment as head of the software giant's worldwide partner organization.
In his tenure as Microsoft's channel chief Roskill has overseen the overhaul of the company's partner program, now known as the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN), and helped define the channel's role as Microsoft expands into cloud computing and other new areas.
CRN Senior Editor Rick Whiting caught up with Roskill on the last day of WPC, interviewing the channel chief in a food court across the street from the WPC headquarters hotel after a fire alarm forced an evacuation and temporarily disrupted the day's proceedings. Here is an edited transcript of the conversation.
Talk about the things you announced in your keynote, about the increased MPN spending on cloud and solutions incentives. I know the current MPN program has been running for more than 18 months and it's more a case of tweaking the programs. But I didn't hear as much about MPN in the keynotes as in years past.
We did an MPN Value Keynote, which we have never done before. A lot of partners have a person in the company whose job it is to keep track of the MPN program, what the competencies are, training and certifications they need, understanding the incentives. And so the Value Keynote that Julie [Bennani, partner programs general manager] did was really focused on that. Probably over 1,000 people went to that.
And because we had that, it allowed me to pull some of that detail out of my keynote. What I tried to do is move it up, being more aspirational, more visionary. Which I think lines up with where we are right now.
The changes involved are absolutely more than tweaking. We [combined] the two SharePoint competencies. We've evolved the digital marketing competency, which is one we're very excited about. Honestly, I think it was a little unclear who the target was. It's much more that the digital marketing agency partners. They're the type of partners who are typically working with Bing and Bing advertising. So it's great because it's another part of the company that is officially coming into the MPN fold.
Microsoft is really so broad. It's business is as broad as 10 companies. And [the partner organization] has not had this deep connection with Bing. And one of the things that did was, we worked with Bing to bring a value element back to our partners. And so there is a Bing advertising component, a Bing advertising benefit that we're now able to offer our partners. And I've heard some pretty good enthusiasm for that.
So it was SharePoint and digital marketing competencies. And we've done work around the desktop competency, to support Windows 8 and what's happening with Windows 8. I'd say those are the big ones.
And you asked about incentives. What I said in the speech is we've added more than $20 million to our incentives budget at a worldwide level.
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