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Microsoft’s Swenson: Poor Economy Could ‘Cause A Shift’ Toward Marketplace

Wade Tyler Millward

“The marketplace will eventually enable a much richer, peer-to-peer type of conversation through the customer-decision journey in this digital space,” Jake Swenson said.

As tech giants reexamine their spending in a worsening economy, Microsoft appears to be going forward with investments in its online commercial marketplace, promising more features to entice other software vendors and services-led partners.

But Microsoft Marketplace could be more than just a transaction engine, Jake Swenson, Microsoft’s vice president of commercial marketplace, told CRN in an interview. More integration between the marketplace and Microsoft’s partner portal could mean better data sharing among partners, Microsoft sellers and customers in the future.

“The Marketplace will eventually enable a much richer, peer-to-peer type of conversation through the customer-decision journey in this digital space,” Swenson (pictured) said. “None of us are quite there yet. … My aspiration and my belief is that Marketplace as a community is really what the interesting use case looks like for that in the long run.”

[RELATED: Partners Weigh Investments In Online Vendor Marketplaces]

What Is Microsoft Marketplace?

The Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant has expanded access to its ISV Success program – moving into public preview the function of its partner program meant for unfamiliar independent software vendors – and published some statistics related to selling on its Marketplace.

Some services partners are starting to test out the opportunity from online marketplaces, which have been receiving major investments from vendors including Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Cisco, and distributors such as Ingram Micro and Pax8.

But service partner listings on online marketplaces isn’t a ubiquitous practice just yet. And for some partners who are participating in marketplaces, the revenue made off marketplaces isn’t exactly replacing more traditional practices for finding leads and closing deals.

“For certain partners, there’s definitely a good opportunity to get exposure that they might not get otherwise and to reach an audience that they might not reach otherwise,” Gabriel Romero, chief marketing officer and head of alliances for Denver-based AllCloud, an Amazon Web Services and Salesforce partner, recently told CRN. “For us, we’re still in the early days of putting our solutions out on a marketplace. We’re figuring out the best way to engage with customers on marketplaces to make sure that we’re giving them something that they can easily find and that they can easily use.”

Mark Wyllie, CEO of Boca Raton, Fla.-based IBM partner Flagship Solutions Group, told CRN in a recent interview that he plans to add to his company’s marketing spend on marketplaces next year.

“Marketplaces, we really haven’t done much in that area,” he said. “They’re going to be a factor, but they’re still not a significant factor. … If I started seeing an uptick in customers really buying through a marketplace (I would invest more). I just haven’t seen that.”

This week, Microsoft also announced an upcoming multi-party private offers function in its Marketplace, which should appeal to system integrators, resellers and distributors, Swenson said.

“Functions like what we call multi-party private offers – that we will be bringing to market early next year – make Marketplace relevant for the services partners,” he said. “Now your SIs [systems integrators] or your resellers or your distis [distributors] have an opportunity to say, ‘Look, I’ve got an ISV offer. I have a Microsoft customer. I have my services or my value-add to the equation that can be packaged and transacted in this way that’s convenient for the customer and that has positive economic terms for everybody involved.’”

Here’s what else Swenson had to say.

 
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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