Opportunity Drives Transition Plans For Microsoft Business Solutions Channel

REDMOND, Wash., May 4, 2004 — Microsoft Corp. today announced new business initiatives that enable partners which sell Microsoft Business Solutions to provide maximum value to customers around the world. On July 1, 2004, Microsoft will launch a 12-month transition for partners that sell Microsoft Business Solutions to take advantage of the Microsoft®
Partner Program (MSPP) global framework. At launch, the Microsoft Business Solutions Competency will become the ninth solution competency in the new Microsoft Partner Program. The integration of Microsoft Business Solutions partners into MSPP marks a milestone in the evolution of the program.

Also on July 1, a new Solution Provider Agreement (SPA) will be offered, along with the consolidation of Regional Operations Centers (ROC) worldwide. The MSPP framework will bring new benefits and new offerings to help partners invest in the right amount of Microsoft Business Solutions technical support, training and consulting services to meet the specific needs of their customers and their business. The business initiatives are designed to improve global customer opportunities, while preserving customer and vendor relationships.

“Partners that specialize in Microsoft Business Solutions technologies and services have unique qualifications and are vital to meeting customer needs for these solutions,” said Don Nelson, general manager of managed partners in the Worldwide Partner Sales and Marketing Group at Microsoft. “To meet growing customer demand, it is important for us to preserve the unique expertise of a Microsoft Business Solutions-authorized reseller community. Partners that specialize in this area can map their skill set to the program framework and capture new, unprecedented opportunities to offer complete customer solutions.”

The new Microsoft Business Solutions Competency will be launched in July, providing companies with the opportunity to distinguish their business based on expertise providing ERP and CRM solutions. The new competency, as part of the overall partner program framework, delivers new benefits along with a new services offering.

Depending on a partner’s level of investment and needs, benefits of the new services offering can include technical support provided to partners by engineers; the inclusion of Microsoft Business Solutions training tutorials in all service plans; and a Consultant Resource Center that provides partners with a set of tools, templates, methodologies and best practices to assist in the selling and implementation of Microsoft Business Solutions products and services. Partners that make additional investments with Microsoft will receive dedicated engineer support.

“Today’s announcements mark a milestone in realizing the vision we set forth last fall to deliver business focus and value to all our channel partners and customers,” said Allison Watson, vice president of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Sales and Marketing Group at Microsoft. “Now, with a small and midmarket segment IT spend forecasted at $809 million by 2008,* partners with Microsoft Business Solutions expertise have a tremendous growth opportunity. We are committed to providing early and ongoing information that sets our partners up to deliver the highest industry standard of value to customers in those segments. We believe the new Microsoft Partner Program and the Microsoft Business Solutions Competency sets that standard for our partners.”

A key change for Microsoft Business Solutions partners includes a new model in which program engagement, services and benefits are separated from reseller terms and conditions. The new Microsoft Business Solutions SPA will provide more uniform worldwide terms and conditions outside the MSPP competency. Partners have the choice of operating under their current reseller agreement until July 2005 or signing and operating under the SPA when it becomes available in July 2004.

Components of the SPA include distribution rights for Microsoft Business Solutions ERP software and services for those not offered in volume licensing or exclusively through distributors, uniform terms and conditions for conducting business with customers regardless of their location, sustained competitive revenue opportunities, and authorization criteria that establish a foundation for delivering maximum customer satisfaction.

Microsoft will provide partners with consistent points of contact for key Microsoft Business Solutions-related business activities and create new efficiencies by consolidating operations. On July 1, Microsoft will consolidate distribution from its subsidiaries to three Regional Operation Centers. Partner operations in North America and Latin America will be supported by the ROC in Fargo, N.D.; partner operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa will be supported by the ROC in Dublin, Ireland; and partner operations in the Asia-Pacific region will be supported by the ROC in Singapore. Examples of operational support offered by the three ROCs include order management, product supply and distribution, and credit and collections.

All Microsoft Business Solutions partners have a 12-month transition period to evaluate and engage in the new program framework and business initiatives.

About the Microsoft Partner Program

The goal of the Microsoft Partner Program, announced at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in October 2003, is to better align with each partner’s business focus, recognize the complete impact of partners’ relationships with customers, aligned with their unique business model, and provide partners with increased value for the investments they have made in Microsoft. Through the Partner Points and Microsoft Solution Competencies, partners can realize a deeper relationship with Microsoft that will empower them to highlight their expertise with customers and thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

* AMI–Partners Global Small Business Market Opportunity Assessment 2003

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