Microsoft Kicks off Worldwide Partner Conference 2004 — with Velocity

TORONTO, July 11, 2004 — Microsoft today kicked off its premiere annual event for its worldwide channel of business partners, the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2004. With more than 5,500 business leaders, marketing executives, sales professionals and solutions architects in attendance, the event runs today through July 13 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Building on last year’s launch of the Microsoft Partner Program, the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2004 will serve as the venue in which Microsoft unveils programs and resources closely aligned with the Microsoft Solution Competencies to help partners capture additional business opportunity.

To gain insight into news shared during the Worldwide Partner Conference 2004, PressPass spoke with the executives who delivered keynote addresses on the opening day of the event: Allison Watson , vice president, Partner Sales and Marketing Group; Orlando Ayala , senior vice president, Small and Mid-market Solutions and Partners Group; and Sanjay Parthasarathy , corporate vice president, Platform Strategy and Partner Group.

PressPass: The theme for the Worldwide Partner Conference 2004 is “velocity.” What does velocity mean to Microsoft partners?

Allison Watson, Vice President, Partner Sales and Marketing Group Click image for high-res version.

Allison Watson: The new Microsoft Partner Program was unveiled at last year’s Worldwide Partner Conference, where we introduced the theme of “Building Momentum.” We chose “Velocity” as the theme for this year’s conference because it so aptly captures the speed at which business is being conducted throughout the Microsoft partner ecosystem. Velocity, as an evolution from Building Momentum, represents the progress we’ve made over the last nine months, but also paints the direction for where we need to go. It really highlights the way we are focusing ourselves on working, both to support partners directly around the Microsoft Partner Program Competencies and in conjunction with them in order to deliver undisputed value to our mutual customers. We’re continuing to fine-tune an innovative, partner-centric approach to doing business that responds to the needs of both partners and customers.

PressPass: How have you increased investment in Microsoft’s partner channel? And where is the investment going?

Watson: In recognition of the critical significance of our business partners, Microsoft is increasing its investment in the partner channel from the already high level of US$1.5 billion to $1.7 billion for fiscal year 2005. This investment will come in the form of people, training and support — increased numbers of partner technical specialists, stepped up technical resources, plus sales and marketing training and new support for through-partner marketing. In addition, via new field specialists and other additional value, we’ll really focus on our partners enrolled in the Microsoft Business Solutions and independent software vendors (ISV) competencies. All of our investments will be allocated across the broad themes that map to how our partners conduct business: business planning, training and enablement, sales and marketing, and service and support.

PressPass: What is through-partner marketing?

Watson: Marketing is an area where we will be investing dollars incrementally to help our partners generate customer demand. In addition to the $1.7 billion investment, each of our 67 global subsidiaries around the world will deliver 35 percent of their global marketing funds to enable partners to work with Microsoft to undertake joint marketing efforts. By providing tailored marketing training, prescriptive guidance, tools and resources, we plan to assist our partners in improving their marketing and sales effectiveness. We call this approach “through-partner marketing.” Our goal is to put a more recognizable face on our partners by leveraging the power of the Microsoft brand. The Marketing Tool that I demonstrated with Kevin Johnson will bring through-partner marketing to life by facilitating the customization and execution of multi-dimensional campaigns. In addition, the advertisements we’re unveiling at the Worldwide Partner Conference 2004 are an excellent example of this new approach to marketing. The advertisements not only promote Microsoft products, but they also include a call to action for customers to contact a Microsoft Gold Certified partner or visit, where they can quickly choose a Microsoft partner based on factors such as geography or specialty.

PressPass: Microsoft recently announced leadership changes. How will those changes affect partners?

Orlando Ayala, Senior Vice President, Small and Mid-market Solutions and Partners Group Click image for high-res version.

Orlando Ayala: I still direct the Small and Mid-Market Solutions and Partners (SMS & P) group at Microsoft, but I am now reporting directly to Doug Burgum, senior vice president, Microsoft Business Solutions, and serving as chief operating officer (COO) for Microsoft Business Solutions. Doug is reporting directly to Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer, so our mission is supported at the very highest level of the company. We’re streamlining and identifying ways that both groups can more effectively meet the needs of partners and customers. The partnership that is evolving between the Microsoft Business Solutions team’s deep knowledge of business applications and my team’s sales expertise is a winning combination that will help us deliver on the goals and strategies we’ve identified for FY05 and beyond.

PressPass: How does Microsoft work with its partners to address customer pain in the small and mid-market segment?

Ayala: Our strategy is simple and straightforward. We listen, and then we take action accordingly. We have solid processes in place for gathering input and feedback, which we take very seriously when developing new technologies and honing our services to meet the needs of customers. We rely on our strong network of partners to deliver technology to our customers; they are the face of the company. They understand our customers’ pain points and provide essential technical knowledge, customization and ongoing support and service to help plan and implement technology solutions to meet individual business needs.

PressPass: What is the market opportunity for Microsoft Business Solutions partners right now? Where should they be investing?

Ayala: The opportunity to sell enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), online services, retail management and small business technology and related services to small and mid-market organizations is enormous. We’re releasing several updated products this year, and the products currently on the market are experiencing tremendous momentum. One investment for partners to consider initially is the Microsoft Business Solutions competency, which is available this year. The competency will help partners better convey to customers the value they can offer a business. The Microsoft Business Solutions competency will also help bring those partners into the overall Microsoft Partner Program. Another area partners should consider investing is in training. We’ve really increased the training and support that’s available to our partners this year, and I strongly encourage Microsoft Business Solutions partners to take advantage of it.

Sanjay Parthasarathy, Corporate Vice President, Platform Strategy and Partner Group Click image for high-res version.

Sanjay Parthasarathy: We talk about the power of the Microsoft platform as a way to show ISVs the incredible opportunities out in the marketplace. The Microsoft platform provides partners with the opportunity to build, sell and service customer solutions within an integrated, broadly deployed and incredibly well supported technology stack. Looking across the platform, we see incredible opportunity around key technologies like Microsoft .NET, delivering cutting-edge support for Web services, and Microsoft Windows Server 2003 for highly scalable, reliable and manageable operational infrastructure.

On the client side, Microsoft Office provides ISVs with a highly productive and programmable platform to deliver great value to information workers. ISVs can program against the broad platform by using Microsoft Visual Studio .NET, a set of tools unmatched in delivering developer productivity. We can offer ISVs and our customers all of this platform value and productivity with industry-leading price performance. Hundreds of millions of customers around the world have chosen Microsoft Windows for home and for work, which provides ISVs with a compelling target platform that already has broad market acceptance to deliver great solutions to the broadest possible audience.

Finally, we currently have an exciting pipeline of innovation that includes three waves of software to be released in the near future that will facilitate new development scenarios, enabling ISVs to continue innovating and bring next-generation solutions to the market to help them continue to grow and succeed.

PressPass: Can you explain the ISV Royalty program?

Parthasarathy: The ISV Royalty Program provides a single, integrated way for ISVs to embed Microsoft’s core technology into their software applications and package it for resale, helping to streamline the sales process and improve the delivery experience. The program enables ISVs to ensure their customers have all the technology components required to deploy their solutions. In addition, the program offers ISVs a way to demonstrate to Microsoft the platform revenue they are driving through sales of their solutions. This year we have made changes to the program to expand the technology that ISVs can integrate into their offerings, enabling them to provide a wider range of solutions to their customers in a more convenient manner.

PressPass: How does the ISV competency enable partners?

Parthasarathy: As with all of the competencies, the ISV competency will provide ISV partners a means by which they can highlight their key areas of specialization. Since the new partner program was launched last year, solutions competencies have helped align industry partners’ businesses with Microsoft technologies, marketing and demand generation, as well as the delivery of resources and technical readiness. Overall, the Microsoft Partner Program is designed to enable ISVs to succeed in an increasingly dynamic marketplace.

A key to this strategy is to take into consideration ISV enablement across the lifecycle of the application, targeting strong programmatic offers for ISVs at specific phases in the development, sales deployment and maintenance of the application. The Microsoft Partner Program in general, and the ISV competency in particular, provide a streamlined and simplified way to work closely with Microsoft and grow the relationship over time so that ISVs and Microsoft can take can take advantage of existing and new opportunities together.

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