Partners: Microsoft Reorganization Will Sharpen Focus On Industry Solutions And Hot Technologies

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A Microsoft sales and marketing restructuring should bolster the channel's ability to target specific industries with hot emerging technologies including artificial intelligence, solution providers told CRN.

Tony Safoian, president and CEO of Los Angeles-based SADA Systems, said that while he is awaiting the full details of the restructuring "what we do know is that this shift is a positive one, in terms of the re-emphasis on specialized areas of technology in enterprise."

"In terms of the cloud and everything else, what the market is asking for is more specialization in the segments you're now working with--to bring more value to the line of business that's meaningful," Safoian said. "This is definitely a smart move."

[Related: Report: Microsoft To Lay Off Thousands, Enterprise, SME Sales Groups Could Be Affected]

Among the major changes from the restructuring: Microsoft's sales groups will be divided into two categories--enterprise and small/medium/corporate--while sales teams will also be organized by industry focus and by product category.

Industries covered are manufacturing, retail, education, financial services, government and health. The sales groups will be organized based on which product category they focus on--apps/infrastructure, data/AI, business applications and modern workplace.

"Cloud and AI are the two things that are really changing the way that Microsoft has traditionally engaged with their customers," said Tony Pagnusat, senior alliance director at St. Louis, Mo.-based Perficient, No. 57 on CRN's 2017 Solution Provider 500. "I think that's what's driving this [reorganization]."

While Perficient has spent a lot of time establishing relationships with field salespeople within Microsoft, there will probably now be a need to re-establish connections with the sales teams, Pagnusat said. Still, "I think it's a really good opportunity for us as partners to get in early, understand the model, and figure out the ways where we can plug in and help bring value to the Microsoft field sales team," he said.

Microsoft declined to comment on the reorganization beyond issuing a short statement, which reads: "Microsoft is implementing changes to better serve our customers and partners."

The reorganization – which was first reported by Geekwire last week -- was detailed in an internal memo from Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Worldwide Commercial Business Judson Althoff; Executive Vice President of Global Sales, Marketing & Operations Jean-Philippe Courtois; and Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President of Marketing and Consumer Business Chris Capossela.

Ric Opal, senior director at Oak Brook, Ill.-based SWC Technology Partners, told CRN that "unquestionably, the cloud is driving this."

While more details are likely to come at Microsoft's partner conference--Inspire--next week, Opal said the moves could enable "a much deeper and wider customer experience for Microsoft customers."

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