TORONTO, July 11, 2004 — In recognition of its business partners’ importance, Microsoft Corp. today announced it is significantly increasing investments in its worldwide partner ecosystem. The company will increase its investment in the partner channel from $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion over the course of fiscal year 2005. Announced at the Microsoft®
Worldwide Partner Conference 2004, the increased investment will cover additional field specialists, training, sales and marketing support, and services — the same areas in which Microsoft has been making considerable investments for the past two years. The additional funding for field specialists will be allocated primarily to system builders, independent software vendors (ISVs) and partners that focus on Microsoft Business Solutions.
In addition to the $1.7 billion investment, each of Microsoft’s global subsidiaries will allocate a total of 35 percent of global marketing funds, previously earmarked for direct customer marketing, to help partners build their businesses through joint marketing efforts with Microsoft. The goal of the new approach, called “through-partner marketing,” is to utilize the highly recognized Microsoft brand to increase visibility for partners, to extend partners’ opportunities by more closely aligning their business goals with Microsoft’s marketing strategies, and to increase the added value to customers.
Advertisements showcased during the Worldwide Partner Conference 2004, for example, direct customers to contact a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner or visit Microsoft.com, where they can quickly choose a Microsoft partner based on categories such as geography, solution expertise or other specific criteria.
“Today’s announcements clearly indicate the high level of value we place on our channel partners,” said Allison Watson, vice president of the Worldwide Partner Sales and Marketing Group at Microsoft. “The increased investments have the potential to make a truly profound impact on our partners’ ability to reach and serve customers in new and improved ways. We are absolutely committed to building and maintaining a world-class partner program that continues to drive increased business opportunities for our partners and provides real, undisputed value to our shared customers.”
Watson said that increasing the investment in the partner channel is key to the Microsoft Partner Program’s overall goal of driving business opportunities for partners. “Effective partnerships are, at their core, about effective relationships,” she said. “It’s important to us that every partner realize the full value of the relationship with Microsoft so that together we can identify opportunities that will facilitate growth and customer value.”
Microsoft Invests to Help Partners Seize New Opportunities
Watson said the primary purpose of the $1.7 billion partner channel investment for fiscal year 2005 is to fund programs and resources in the areas of field specialists, partner enablement, sales and marketing support, and services.
In the enablement area, Microsoft is making a significant investment in partner training focused on sales, technical enablement and marketing. It has developed curricula for partners and will be introducing the Partner Learning Center, a Web-enabled, online resource where partners can manage their total set of assets. With the Partner Learning Center, partners will be able to design assessment plans and curricula tailored to their own unique needs and participate in online or instructor-led training.
In addition, Microsoft will offer Microsoft Solutions Selling courses online. Rather than offering a discounted rate for training on a per-employee basis, the Microsoft Solutions Selling model enables partner companies to pay a one-time fee for training up to 40 employees.
The additional investment also will fund an increase in marketing support. Microsoft has expanded the marketing tool sets and collateral that partners can use to market their services. Tag lines on advertisements in the Microsoft Business Solutions, server and information worker categories will incorporate a call to action to contact a Microsoft Certified Partner. In addition, Microsoft is launching the Microsoft Resource Directory, a search function sourced by partner profile that lets customers generate a list of partners that meet their preferences. Resources will be added incrementally for inbound presales support, including support for competitive escalations when necessary.
Microsoft also announced today that it is increasing its number of field specialists. Worldwide, 200 technical specialists will be added across all competencies, with 35 percent specializing in Microsoft Business Solutions. The technical specialists will work closely with Microsoft partners to enable customer solutions.
About Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference
Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference provides Microsoft’s partner community with access to key marketing and business strategies, leadership, and information regarding specific customer solutions designed to help partners succeed in the marketplace. Along with informative learning opportunities covering sales, marketing, services and technology, the Worldwide Partner Conference is an ideal setting for partners to garner valuable knowledge from their peers and from Microsoft. More information can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/partner/events/wwpartnerconference/ .
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