Microsoft Zooms In On Enterprise Partners

Last October, when Peter Boit was promoted to vice president of enterprise partner sales at Microsoft, the company was beginning to push business solutions such as ERP and CRM as ideal solutions for large enterprises. A year later, Microsoft has developed a more comprehensive picture of where it's focusing its enterprise partner investment.

This area encompasses business applications, enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM); the platform and tools for developing products; core infrastructure such as Windows Server, and systems management and security technologies. Boit said.

Microsoft has some 8,000 managed enterprise partners worldwide, about half of which are based in North America. The plan is for each of these partners to work together with a Microsoft account manager to develop business models and the appropriate solutions to drive them, and establish a timeframe for evaluating partner performance, said Boit.

"We've implemented a more structured joint business planning and review process with our partners, which includes scorecards that look at performance both on an individual level and a macro level to tell us if we're on track," Boit said. "We believe that having this predictable accountable model helps develop healthy partner ecosystem."

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Gary Erickson, vice president of the Microsoft alliance for Unisys, describes his company's partnership as a "sell-with" alliance. "When working together and engaging around a client opportunity, aligning our value proposition and that of Microsoft can be complex, and this requires joint account planning and engagement," said Erickson.

"In a perfect world, the Unisys account team and Microsoft work together on joint sales calls and support the client's problems," Erickson added.

Microsoft enterprise partners are seeing particularly strong demand for productivity solutions customized for specific verticals and individual roles, according to Boit. But to take advantage of this trend, partners must narrow their focus to specific solution areas in order to differentiate themselves from other partners, Boit said.