The week that was…. by Linda Rendleman

I hope that those of you that attended WPC last week are fully recovered but also energised from what was an exciting and jam packed event. As my first WPC in my new role as partner and business development lead for Microsoft, it really brought home to me the power of partnering and how when Microsoft and partners work together we can do more. Just one example of that was Dan Scarfe from Dot Net Solutions who, I was really excited to see, get a call out in Satya’s keynote. Dan has been a real believer in Microsoft having bet the business on our vision some years ago. As a result, Dot Net has been at the forefront of driving Azure and Office 365 and Dot Net has just had its best year ever with 300% growth.

Kevin talked on day one about us adopting a challenger mind set and the fact that we need to act as if Microsoft were a start-up. In other words we need to be flexible, ambitious and compete hard in the marketplace. We see partners as central to this and the partners I spoke to were excited by this stance and could see where our vision of mobile first, cloud first would open up new opportunities for profitability.

I’ve also had great feedback from our announcement about connecting more of our customers to through the FastTrack offer available from September 1st. Partners have always played an important role is getting customers on the Office 365 services and driving usage of the platform. FastTrack is the Office 365 benefit that delivers a quick and predictable way for a customer to get started and deployed in their organization so they can easily move to widespread use. The on boarding benefits will automate repeatable & consistent elements of deployment by assisting customers remotely. These are task that customers expect to be done as part of choosing to adopt the service and do not want to pay for it. Qualified customers can chose to either have the Microsoft On boarding Center complete email migration for all purchased, eligible offer seats or work with a qualified Cloud Deployment Partner for adoption activities on behalf of the customer. This means that the initial adoption can be completely quickly. Additional to these repeatable tasks customers have unique requests which they need onsite support with and which are typically high margin services that drive platform usage. For example Change Management, Rollout Planning and Scheduling, End User Training and Communications, Support and Project Management, Complex Scenarios for Hybrid and Coexistence, Integration with LOB systems etc. These are the tasks that partners will continue to provide and charge for to the customer.

I am excited by the developments we’re making to the MPN, mainstreaming cloud programmes into three new cloud competencies as of September as per the announcements made by Gavriella Schuster. The first year for the new cloud silver competencies will be complimentary to help partners free up funds to invest in building their cloud and hybrid cloud practices. Partners will also receive more internal user rights for Azure and Office 365 as we know that partners using the technology experience 3 times the sales volume. Then through our signature cloud support offering, partners will get access to unlimited support for Office 365 and Azure. So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive to these announcements and many partners who are building their cloud practices have told me that they’ll really value these resources.

Lastly, Satya talked a lot about the culture Microsoft is engendering to enable its staff to do their best work. Both Microsoft and partners should be bold in the face of opportunity. For us in the UK partner team we are not just talking the talk but also walking the walk. We’re breaking down barriers enabling teams to work better together, challenging the way we’ve always done things and looking at new ways to drive our business forward in a mobile first, cloud first world. With this in mind feedback from you, our partners, is vital to steering us in the right direction. So please, if you see great work call it out, if you see opportunities to do things differently tell us. We’re open and listening to all feedback.

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