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Microsoft Inspire 2022: Chief Partner Officer Nicole Dezen Says It’s ‘Never Been A Better Time’ For Partners

Wade Tyler Millward

'With increasing customer demand, our R&D (research and development) investments and go-to-market capabilities, we will help you unlock new opportunities for growth,’ Microsoft Chief Partner Officer Nicole Dezen says.

Nicole Dezen, Microsoft’s new chief partner officer and corporate vice president of the Global Partner Solutions organization, addressed the company’s 400,000 partners publicly for the first time this week during Microsoft’s annual Inspire event to discuss partner opportunities in hybrid work and cybersecurity.

Dezen also touched on new investments in partner enablement while staying away from the controversial rollout of Microsoft’s “new commerce experience” campaign and the accompanying 20 percent premium on monthly commitments of popular software packages from the Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant, including Microsoft 365 (M365).

“There's never been a better time to be a Microsoft partner,” Dezen said during one of her talks Tuesday. “With increasing customer demand, our R&D (research and development) investments and go-to-market capabilities, we will help you unlock new opportunities for growth.”

She continued: “Microsoft is the best partner for growth. Betting on the Microsoft Cloud positions you to win in the market. We are the platform for growth and the open cloud platform of choice. We have the most valuable ecosystem and tech for partners to differentiate and advance your own values, and we're committed to helping you thrive and grow.”

[RELATED: MICROSOFT CEO NADELLA: HIGHER GROWTH, HIGHER MARGINS FOR 'PARTNERS WHO BET ON US’]

What Did Nicole Dezen Say During Microsoft Inspire?

The monthly premiums have proved concerning for some partners who allege the premiums push customers into annual commitments, preventing customers from leaving partners they don’t like and leaving partners on the hook for paying Microsoft if a customer goes out of business or doesn’t need as many licenses during the annual term.

Dezen succeeds Nick Parker, taking his former Global Partner Solutions corporate vice president title and adding the chief partner officer title. Parker was promoted to Microsoft president of the Industry & Partner Sales (IPS) organization.

In a statement to CRN, Microsoft explained that the chief partner officer title is broader than the “channel chief” title formerly held by Rodney Clark, who left Microsoft earlier this year for Johnson Controls.

Clark’s responsibilities have been split into two roles – the new vice president of channel sales role held by David Smith and the new vice president of go-to-market (GTM), programs and experiences role held by Julie Sanford.

Smith “will focus on sales and business growth with our channel partners,” according to Microsoft. Sanford “will be accountable for partner programs and GTM engines.’

Smith previously held the title of vice president of U.S. partners. Sanford previously held the title of vice president of GTM strategy and programs.

Dezen discussed the upcoming Microsoft Cloud Partner Program, the renamed Microsoft Partner Network debuting in October. She didn’t mention the controversial partner capability score that will determine who is a Microsoft “solutions partner” and who receives new Microsoft specializations – which replace the classic gold and silver Microsoft designations.

“You can differentiate your company with a specialization, the highest technical accomplishment for a solution area,” Dezen said. “This creates incremental value to customers as they search for the right partners to meet their transformation needs.”

During his own keynote address this week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella appeared to reference the upcoming partner capability scores that will determine who receives specializations.

“We want to be the best partner for our partners, and we are investing in your success,” Nadella said Tuesday. “We are committed to helping you better meet customer needs by helping you gain specializations in deep technical training across all the solution areas I’ve talked about today.”

Dezen said that Microsoft is investing in more workshops for partners, including ones around hybrid work-related services and security-related services. An update – dubbed “Project Orland” – to Microsoft’s Partner Center is also expected to enter public preview in October for Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program participants.

“We’re also seeing continued strong growth in co-sell, with $33.8 billion in annual contracted value and 35 percent revenue growth since we launched the co-sell program in FY (fiscal year) ’18,” Dezen said.

Dezen also provided an update on Microsoft’s Black Partner Growth Initiative, which has more than 1,000 partners. Microsoft has issued more than $10 million in working capital loans through the initiative, plus provided executive training and mentorship, Dezen said.

Here’s what else Dezen said during Inspire 2022.

 
Wade Tyler Millward

Wade Tyler Millward is an associate editor covering cloud computing and the channel partner programs of Microsoft, IBM, Red Hat, Oracle, Salesforce, Citrix and other cloud vendors. He can be reached at wmillward@thechannelcompany.com.

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