Microsoft Merges Units

The new Worldwide Partner Group and Worldwide Small Business Group, announced last month and detailed on Monday, will be led by channel chief Allison Watson, who now assumes the post of vice president of Microsoft&s Worldwide Partner and Worldwide Small Business Group. Watson, formerly vice president of the Worldwide Partner Sales and Marketing Group, continues to report to Orlando Ayala, senior vice president of the Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partner (SMS&P) Group and COO of Microsoft Business Solutions.

The merging of the two divisions reflects the growing synergies and blurring lines between the channel and the small-business space at Microsoft. Watson cited the recent launch of the Small Business Specialist partner certification and online Professional Accountants Network as examples of the crossover.

“In the Worldwide Small Business Group, we need a value proposition and compelling reason [for small businesses] to engage with Microsoft, and their key relationship with Microsoft assets and products is through the partner channel,” Watson said. “In the midmarket business, it&s broader and has a more complex product and partner linkage with the higher end of the enterprise.”

The formerly independent partner group now falls under the auspices of the Microsoft Business Division, one of three units formed when Microsoft combined its Information Worker business and Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) under Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division.

Sponsored post

“What this restructuring does in my mind is give to the small-business sector all of the assets and strengths that Microsoft has been giving to the bigger guys,” said Jay Ferron, CEO of Interactive Security Training, a solution provider in West Haven, Conn. “What makes this so cool to me is now the one man shop is being recognized more in the Microsoft mainstream.”

Watson will continue to own responsibility for partners in the midmarket sector and will interface with midmarket business chief John Lauer and Simon Witts, who runs Microsoft's enterprise business.

To bolster the merged small-business and partner operations, Watson hired former Sun Microsystems executive Sherle Webb-Robins to serve as general manager of the Microsoft Partner Program.

Also coming aboard the new group is Microsoft veteran Doug Leland, who will serve as general manager.