Microsoft Publishes Top Named Accounts For Partners

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Keeping a promise it made to channel partners more than a week ago, Microsoft named its top 1,000 accounts, putting a line in the sand as to where its consulting service will play and not play. Read the list of accounts by clicking here.

While the software giant said there will be exceptions to the rule, its Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) arm will focus on its top global, strategic, major and corporate accounts published in a list posted to a private Microsoft partner Web site and dated Jan. 18. The list was obtained by CRN.

The list, which is broken down by vertical segments and by region/districts, is incomplete at this point but will be updated no later than Jan. 25, according to the published list provided by Microsoft's U.S. partner sales program.

According to the current roster, Microsoft's named accounts in its 18 districts nationwide include Fortune 500 global accounts as well as strategic, major and corporate accounts. The accounts named in the Mid-Atlantic region, for example, include Anheuser-Busch, Capital One and Amtrak. For the Gulf Coast region, Microsoft named Texaco, Dell Computer, Halliburton and Marathon Oil among its key accounts.

The other regions include the Gulf States, Midwest, Great Lakes, Mid-America, Greater Pennsylvania, Southeast, New England, South Central, North Central, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain, New Jersey/Upstate N.Y., Southern California, Northern California and New York Metro regional offices. The top accounts in the New York/Metro area include Cendant, New York Times, Pfizer and Walt Disney.

One Microsoft solution provider, noting one of his former vendors stole a 5,000-seat account in Detroit he had nurtured and developed, said the MCS list is helpful because it states which accounts Microsoft is not interested in managing. He hopes Microsoft sticks to it.

"Microsoft is gracefully trying to draw the lines. They are trying to say do not waste your time and resources on these accounts because we are really watching them," said Rich Figer, vice president of sales at S.B. Stone, a systems integrator in Cleveland. "It also gives the VAR some comfort and confidence when they are working on a large opportunity and the company is not on the list. This should prove to be very helpful unless Microsoft can add and subtract names at their leisure. We had a vendor that did just that. We would work on a large opportunity and then all of the sudden it was on the 'named account' list. If Microsoft plays fair with the list it will be a good thing."

The list also breaks down top customers by a limited number of vertical segments including financial services, service provider/communications and federal as well as state/local governments. Microsoft retains account control for most of the U.S. government offices including the CIA, U.S. Senate and most top department agencies.

In the financial sector, the software giant's consulting services arm will manage top financial companies such as Visa, Chubb, New York Life, Reuters Information Services, Goldman Sachs and Traveler's.

Microsoft plans to update the list as part of its Services Partner Framework every six months. The rules of engagement were formally rolled out to partners on Jan. 14.

"Microsoft gave each district office and vertical team an allocation for the number of accounts they can target," said a Microsoft spokeswoman. "The local offices then pick which accounts they will target with regional partners. The total of these regional accounts then makes up Microsoft's list of top 1,000 in the U.S."

Analysts said the named accounts model is a good first step, but the company will have to keep refining it, specifying exceptions to alleviate partner concerns and addressing the shifting role of partners as .Net takes hold and new Licensing 6.0 rules take effect midyear.

"While Microsoft is clear and unequivocal in naming specific customers that MCS will actively target, it leaves the door open to exceptions in the mid-market and doesn't clearly outline how the company is going to behave when it encounters partners competing for services business in either types of accounts. While Microsoft obviously believes its intentions are just, partners are more likely to forecast a worst-case scenario. To address these issues, Microsoft must eventually create a broader partner charter that outlines the role of partners in delivering various products and services to Microsoft customers," said Steve Graham, a channels analyst at IDC. "This partner charter will not only incorporate the company's approach to providing services alongside partners, but will take into account the impact of recent strategies such as Licensing 6.0, which fundamentally redefines the role of various partners in delivering volume licensing contracts."

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