Today at Microsoft World Wide Partner Conference, Steve Ballmer demonstrated that as a business Microsoft is listening to its partners.
I have watched and worked with Microsoft for 20 or more years and as Managing Director of EACS, a multi award winning IT company and Microsoft Gold Partner then you could expect me to be biased towards Microsoft’s view of the world. However since the launch of Office 365 I have witnessed first-hand expressions of resentment and anger from fellow partners and business leaders at Microsoft’s insistence that hard earned and long term customer relationships would be handed over to them and in return the partner received a trivial finder’s fee for the promotion and sale of Office 365.
Microsoft know that they are under pressure in this space and despite some good wins this year including Burger King and a Japanese airline they know that they need to perform better to compete with Amazon and Google.
Today Microsoft announced an enhancement to their Office 365 Partner Programme. Whilst the incumbent programme will still remain; partners now have the opportunity to retain ownership of the customer and provide one invoice from one place for the full range of products and services that are being provided.
This is a massive step for Microsoft and should not be underestimated. By enabling and incentivising the channel will have the likely consequence that Microsoft will benefit from a significant acceleration of deployments of Office 365.
Microsoft have in the past been accused of a “my way or the high way” stance and this latest announcement clearly represents a new willingness to listen to feedback and more importantly act upon it. As a result Microsoft has taken a huge step in trusting its partners to deliver which can only enhance and strengthen the relationship that Microsoft has with its partners. The potential unseen benefit is that partners are more likely to not only consider Office 365 as a viable customer option but also their complete technology stack will be more widely promoted.
Microsoft has realised that they cannot beat this market by themselves and without Partners on a wide scale, proactively promoting and selling Office 365, then their ambitious targets are unlikely to be achieved.
Now the devil will be in the detail and the next few weeks will be watched with interest but if and the watchword is “if” they get this right then you can expect to see Microsoft market share in this space to rapidly grow.
Mike Dearlove, Managing Director, EACS