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Top Things To Know About Microsoft Partner Network Changes

‘Partners that provide value-added services will see strong margins when they focus on specialized business applications deployment and projects that require planning, implementation, integration, security and compliance,’ says Toby Richards, general manager of Microsoft’s partner co-selling and go-to-market programs for its One Commercial Partner organization.

Microsoft is announcing and teasing changes and investments in its Microsoft Partner Network ahead of the July Inspire conference for its partner community.

The No. 2 cloud provider said the moves are designed to help partners strengthen their go-to-market capabilities and plans, and address customers’ calls for more from their technology providers. The changes include introducing new ways for partners to differentiate so customers understand their expertise, increasing partner access to marketing resources and services, and providing more ways for partners to reach customers to sell their services and applications.

The market opportunities are significant as businesses and organizations continue to move to the cloud, said Toby Richards, general manager of Microsoft’s partner co-selling and go-to-market programs for its One Commercial Partner organization.

“Partners that provide value-added services will see strong margins when they focus on specialized business applications deployment and projects that require planning, implementation, integration, security and compliance,” Richards said in a blog post.

Click through to read about Microsoft’s new partner initiatives.

Advanced Specializations

Microsoft introduced advanced specializations and Azure expert managed service provider programs last year to help partners distinguish themselves beyond their Gold partner statuses.

After unveiling its SAP on Microsoft Azure Advanced Specialization, Microsoft said it will introduce more advanced specializations for Gold partners to highlight their strengths in product, solution or service areas. The areas covered will include Azure stack, server migration, security and teamwork.

“Customers want to understand the unique capabilities and specializations of partners when making decisions about the companies they choose to work with,” Richards said.

Competency Changes Coming

Citing a Gartner research report that forecasts information security spending will surpass $124 billion globally by year’s end, Microsoft said it will launch a new security competency this summer or early fall. The competency will be for partners who can demonstrate their abilities to deliver security-related services on Azure and Microsoft 365 and help customers protect identities, data, apps and endpoints from cyber threats.

Microsoft also is updating requirements for several of its existing competencies to ensure partners have current technical capabilities.

Last month it announced upgrades to its Cloud Business Applications Competency requirements that take effect in July. New role-based exams also will be introduced for that competency.

New Enterprise Resource Planning Competency requirements will take effect in October, reflecting updates to recognize revenue performance for Microsoft Dynamics 365 NAV, GP, SL, or Dynamics 365 Business Central. Partners who renew or attain the ERP Competency before October will not be impacted until their anniversary dates, at which time they’ll only be eligible to renew if they’re selling Microsoft Dynamics 365 NAV, GP, SL or Dynamics 365 Business Central.

Microsoft is retiring its Cloud Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Competency on Oct. 1, 2020. The last day to obtain or renew the competency is this Sept. 30, and partners who do will continue to get access to competency benefits until their anniversary dates. Microsoft is urging partners to work toward attaining its Cloud Business Applications Competency before those anniversary dates.

Microsoft will introduce new role-based exams for functional consultants in July and new exams for developers and solution architects in 2020.

The company’s Partner Contribution Indicators dashboard also will be retooled with new metrics by July.

New Benefits To Build Partner Capabilities

Microsoft said it will increase benefits to help partners build their technical and marketing capabilities in the first quarter of its new fiscal year that starts in July.

“We are changing our approach to the benefits that are included with competencies,” Richards said. “Your Silver or Gold competency will still include some product licenses so you can build innovative apps and services. We are adding access to enablement and go-to-market services to your competency benefits, and you may be eligible for the co-sell program.”

Microsoft will start notifying partners affected by the changes in June.

Supporting ISVs 

Microsoft’s new program for independent software vendors (ISVs) that build line-of-business applications using Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform—announced in April—will be generally available in mid-July.

The Business Applications ISV program, which is built on a revenue-sharing model, will provide technical, marketing and sales benefits that help speed up app delivery and customer acquisition, according to Microsoft. The benefits include new and improved development tools and guidance, marketplace resources, joint field engagement processes and go-to-market support.

Microsoft said it will ensure only certified applications are part of the ISV ecosystem. All cloud-based Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement apps, Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations apps (except Dynamics 365 Business Central) and PowerApps must enroll in the program and be listed in AppSource upon certification or recertification.

“This program … is the first of several offerings in the Microsoft Partner Network that we are bringing to the market later this year to help ISVs speed up application delivery and reach customers by selling with Microsoft and other partners,” Richards said. “These offers will exist alongside the services-oriented competencies, with requirements and benefits that align to the needs of ISVs.”

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