Microsoft Exec Vows To Reduce Complexity In Partner Relations

The software giant's U.S. Partner Group is working to reduce the complexity of dealing with the company, as well as looking to reduce the costs involved with maintaining the relationship, said Robert Deshaies, vice president of the U.S. Partner Group at Microsoft, during an address at XChange '07 Monday night.

However, the company has some work to do, judging by the number of hands raised when Deshaies asked if it was more complex to do business with Microsoft than a year ago.

"Clearly, we have not made the impact we have to," Deshaies said, inviting VARs to see him after the keynote to relay the top issues they're facing. "That's what we need to do to be successful. The evolution is getting down to a point where you're dealing with one Microsoft."

Deshaies also asked for a show of hands to measure the level of complexity and costs of partner-to-partner relationships related to being a Microsoft partner. About a third of costs to build and manage those relationships were an issue. "One of the things, as we get more formalized, is to test and engineer costs out of the equation so you don't need to manage those things in a costly way," he said. "We need to understand customers at a grass-roots level.

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Deshaies said about 65 percent of the U.S. Partner Group is in the field to work with partners. The remainder supports the group from Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., campus.

Solution providers in attendance lauded Deshaies' comments.

"The commitment they're making to simplicity is definitely right on. The more contact points and administrative costs involved, that means a lot to the value proposition any vendor would provide," said David Dechant, CFO of Computer Software Innovations, Easley, S.C.

Dave Gilden, COO of Acuity Solutions, Tampa, Fla. , said Microsoft is more complex to do business with but chalked it up to its size. But he said much of Microsoft's work to improve processes is starting to come to fruition. "The understanding of solutions selling has increased. They're using an inside sales force that are stalkers; it's a good thing. They're much more aggressive and consistent in engaging partners."