January 11th will mark the initial step in a series of updates to both PartnerSource and CustomerSource. Find out more about some of the features and approach we’re taking to improve your online experience.
The Next Generation PartnerSource you’ll see starting January 11th 2014 is an initial step in a series of steps to improve the partner experience. We wanted to get the new site in front of you as soon as possible, so we focused on making core changes to how you navigate and search the site, with an exciting lineup of changes that will follow soon. We’re far from finished, and we’ll deliver more and more capability to you over a number of releases throughout 2015 and 2014.
Our emphasis in January will focus on moving both PartnerSource and CustomerSource to SharePoint 2013 – a platform we’ll now use to evolve the customer and partner experience rapidly over the next 2 years so that we can deliver the most useful content and business capabilities to you. After the initial January launch, you’ll see a number of incremental releases in 2014 that focus on improving how you do business with Dynamics. From updates to VOICE, to more integration across the Microsoft Partner Network site (MPN), our goal is to continue to provide a better experience around managing your customers, preparing your sales and marketing staff, getting support, getting trained, and assessing your business performance. We’ll also plan on being a lot more agile, delivering capabilities more frequently, across both PartnerSource and CustomerSource.
In moving to SharePoint, we took the opportunity to do a number of things – add a new look and feel to the site, update navigation, improve search and discoverability of content, and integrate the social capabilities of Dynamics Community. Here’s a brief summary of the changes you’ll expect to see on day 1:
Windows 8 Design
When you first come into the PartnerSource homepages, you’ll notice that the site is redesigned around Windows 8 design principles. The PartnerSource homepage focuses on delivering key, rotating messages that will change frequently (called “Hero” spots). We use tiles across the site to show useful information, and draw attention to the most important things we want you to consider.
It’s important to note that applications like VOICE, and other data-intensive applications throughout PartnerSource, are on our roadmap for UI improvements later in 2014. All of this work brings us a step closer to delivering a better mobile experience, which we’ll be looking to deliver in 2015.
My Messages functionality is an important area for your partner business as well as Microsoft, and it’s a key part of the PartnerSource homepage experience. We’ve leveraged Windows 8 live tiles to make the information more prominent and useful. You can continue to use My Messages to see information on your own company’s partner service plans, as well as your customer’s plans. If you’re an individual who’s part of multiple partner organizations, you can also choose the partner organization whose customers you want to see in My Messages. As we get later into 2014, integrating VOICE with your experience – similar to My Messages – will be an approach we’ll take with the rest of VOICE capabilities.
There are two levels of navigation you’ll notice. Top level navigation contains general categories that will be available throughout your site experience, and focus on business areas important to both Microsoft and Partners. The categories and subcategories in this navigation are largely based on input from over 100 partner organizations based on how they do business with Microsoft.
In addition, we provide navigation on the left side of a homepage which will change based on where you’re at in the site. In the PartnerSource Homepage, you’ll notice the navigation takes you to deeper product homepages, where you can find sales, marketing and deployment information more specific for that product. In other areas of the site – such as the Support homepage – this navigation will provide deeper context around support downloads, community forums, and so on.
Connecting you to Dynamics business decision makers
All throughout PartnerSource, you can give feedback at any place throughout the experience. If there’s confusion, questions or additional insight about a program or set of information, we’re sharing that information directly with business managers in Dynamics. You’ll be able to optionally leave your email contact information with us so if you’d like follow up from someone in the Dynamics business, we’ll be able to do that.
Finding what you’re looking for
There are over 20,000 documents in PartnerSource when you consider sales and marketing, pricing and licensing, operations, support, training, eLearning and Knowledgebase. Anyone who’s used PartnerSource knows that sorting through all of that is difficult. With SharePoint search (formerly FAST search), we’re leveraging the native abilities to make search results much more relevant.
And not only will your search yield better results, we’re also including results from the Dynamics Community site, so you can find answers in technical forums, or in user blogs, as well as improved results from the Microsoft Knowledgebase system and our online eLearning. In upcoming releases, we’ll expand search to include Dynamics-specific results from MSDN, TechNet, Microsoft Partner Network and other sources important to how you run your Dynamics business.
In addition to an improved full text search, we’re using the search as an organizing principle throughout the site for displaying and sorting lists of content. You’ll see lots of ways of browsing for what you want, in highly intuitive ways. When you browse lists of content, it’s simple to filter for the kind of information you’re browsing for, as well as by product and version.
There will be times where you not only need to find something, but learn from others who may have done the same thing. We’ve embedded connections throughout the search experience where you can quickly submit a question to a product-specific forum and connect with a Dynamics MVP, support professional or another Community user to get details about how they may have completed a similar activity.
We’ve created 8 regionally-specific sites for PartnerSource – Australia / New Zealand, Denmark, France, Germany, Latin America, North America, Spain, and the United Kingdom. We recommend you leverage one of these regionally specific sites where possible. On day one, partners in countries that don’t use English as a primary language may not see 100% of content available in their local language. Where possible, we’ll serve up local language content, but augment that with relevant English results.
If your business isn’t located in one of the main PartnerSource country areas noted above, we also have a global site that contains geographically relevant information to all partners across the world.
The default experience when you first come to PartnerSource will be the North American site. From there, you can choose the country site you want to use, and save that site URL as a favorite so you can continue to gain access to region specific messaging and content.
I hope this would benefit the partners and give them a brand new feel of PartnerSource access.
Until next post!