Microsoft Equips Microsoft Dynamics Partners to Seize Vertical Opportunities

NEW ORLEANS — July 13, 2009 — The current economic situation presents difficult challenges for businesses of all kinds. Business leaders must carefully assess how to best use their resources to weather the uncertainty that lies ahead, and Microsoft’s partners are no exception.

Of all of the systems integrators, independent software vendors and value-added resellers in business around the world, 640,000 are active members of Microsoft’s partner community. These partners look to Microsoft for channel expertise that comes from having a broad yet deep understanding of how partners are successful. Microsoft Dynamics partners, in particular, are seeing more demand for vertically specific solutions within industries such as distribution, public sector, retail, manufacturing, financial services and professional services. Microsoft Dynamics partners delivering repeatable, vertical solutions are achieving higher levels of profitability even in today’s tough environment.

Doug Kennedy, vice president, Microsoft Dynamics Partners.

PressPass spoke with Doug Kennedy, vice president of Microsoft Dynamics Partners, which develops the line of Microsoft Dynamics enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, about Microsoft Dynamics partners’ vertical successes and how changes to Microsoft’s partner programs are designed to help Microsoft Dynamics partners boost profitability and grow, even in today’s tough business environment.

PressPass: What are you announcing and how does it impact partners?

Doug Kennedy: We’re enhancing the Microsoft Dynamics partner channel program to take full advantage of the steady growth in demand for vertically specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions within industries such as distribution, public sector, retail, manufacturing, financial services and professional services. In working closely with our partners and customers over the past few years, we’ve seen this shift in demand and the subsequent growth and higher level of profitability of partners who provide more vertically focused solutions based on Microsoft Dynamics.

These enhancements align with our ERP and CRM solutions strategy and are a critical step toward helping our vertically oriented partners increase their scale and productivity, and helping horizontally oriented partners transition to be more specialized so they can take advantage of growth opportunities. By helping our partners transition to a model of delivering repeatable, vertical solutions, we can help them drive more demand, be more profitable and ultimately grow their businesses.

PressPass: Can you give me some examples of how the Microsoft Dynamics partner channel programs will change?

Kennedy: Specifically, we are making changes in the way we train, promote, brand, market and manage our partners. We’re delivering Microsoft Dynamics-specific training that’s focused on marketing, sales, project management and solution delivery. This is in addition to the technical training we already offer. We are also aligning with the new partner branding and promotional benefits delivered under the Microsoft Partner Network (formerly known as the Microsoft Partner Program), which Allison Watson announced from the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference today.

Partners at the highest tiers of the Microsoft Dynamics partner program will also enjoy a deeper level of marketing engagement from Microsoft, including 1:1 joint marketing planning, exclusive access to industry and vertical campaign services and marketing opportunities and campaign co-funding. We are also more than doubling the certifications and requirements needed to be considered a top-tier partner, and we’re giving partners the opportunity to qualify for special industry recognition.

PressPass: What is the true business value to the Microsoft Dynamics Partners?

Kennedy: Microsoft provides two key avenues for additional revenue and profit for our partners. First, we engage with our key ISVs through the Certified for Microsoft Dynamics (CfMD) program to create a deep vertical solution for their customers. This approach shows a higher win rate and a more efficient sales process.

Second, we expand their solutions by integrating additional Microsoft products. For example, we enable ERP partners to sell CRM, SharePoint partners to sell CRM, and CRM partners to sell ERP. The ability to provide a more comprehensive solution is compelling to potential customers. In fact, companies such as Hitachi and Cronos are doing both, delivering vertically focused ERP and CRM solutions to better differentiate themselves and accelerate their growth, despite the economic downturn.

The Microsoft Dynamics Partner strategy and related partner programs for fiscal year 2010 and beyond will help our partners more successfully take advantage of these opportunities, as we’ll provide more training, tools and field engagement to increase their skills and solution attractiveness, and as we’ll offer better differentiation, branding and marketing benefits to ensure the world knows about their offerings.

PressPass: How will customers benefit?

Kennedy: Customers will have an easier time finding, qualifying and engaging with a partner that can provide the vertical expertise and a deep level of business value specific to their needs. Prospective customers will also be able to speak with existing customers in their industry who have already implemented the solution they’re considering.

PressPass: How does the Microsoft Dynamics partner engagement model compare with others in the industry?

Kennedy: Unlike many of our direct competitors, we are 100 percent focused on selling through our partners. They are our sales force, our consulting force and our implementation force. If they are not successful, we are not successful. Consequently, we have a deep focus on our partners’ success and profitability.

We’re also unique in our ability to invest in R&D, both in our core ERP and CRM products, as well as in the more than $9 billion of R&D investment taking place across Microsoft in areas such as Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft SharePoint Server and Microsoft Office. When you combine these investments with new training, marketing, and field and sales engagement opportunities, our ISVs and VARs will have the resources they need to grow.

PressPass: When will the changes take place?

Kennedy: We’ll start delivering much of the marketing, training and engagement benefits of the Microsoft Dynamics partner channel program this year, and increase the coverage and scale over the next three years. The branding, benefits and certification requirements of the new Microsoft Partner Network will be carried out about a year from now.

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