Q&A: Microsoft Channel Chief Phil Sorgen Talks About Cloud Incentives, Surface, Windows XP

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CRN: What are you trying to accomplish with the Office 365 incentive changes?

We're trying to make sure we're aligning channel incentives all up. You have to look at the message of what we're doing broadly in market around channel incentives. We're investing significantly in cloud to help contribute to a profitable business for partners.

When I talk to most successful cloud partners, they are making significant money going beyond their project services, moving to managed services, introducing repeatable IP. They're finding that the way they did business before may not be identical to how they [will] do business in the future.

Those are things we are trying to drive with the channel, and partners can earn significantly higher multiples with these business model changes.

CRN: When you talk about the four megatrends of social, cloud, big data and mobility, what role do you see the channel playing there?

We have to keep innovating and creating great products. If we don’t create products that people want, it's going to be very hard for partners to build end-to-end solutions around those products.

We have to keep working on creating new markets. You can't have a broad ecosystem of partners trying to create markets themselves. We're also investing significantly in partner enablement, in sales specialists and pre-sales technicians.

To build our pipe, we do a fair amount of through-partner marketing. A very large percentage of our field marketing is done through partners. We run various telephone campaigns to call on behalf of partners and, sometimes, we work directly with customers to create the lead and then hand it off to a partner.

Lastly, we have a worldwide field sales force that is larger than most companies, with roles dedicated to driving sales velocity and close rates. On top of that are things like incentives.

CRN: What is Microsoft doing in the channel specifically with mobility?

We need a developer ecosystem and we're working to continue winning hearts and minds. Whether it's ISVs or systems integrators, we need them to continue driving preferences to our platform.

The two most important things that can help us win share are the right devices that will help us meet the customer scenario, and the right apps to fulfill their needs.

In addition, we need all of our infrastructure partners. We know enterprise and our partners know enterprise. If we can bring that combination together, we'll win in mobile.

NEXT: Not Quite Ready For Surface

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