REDMOND, Wash. — Oct. 26, 2010 — Partners are the sales force, consulting practice and implementation team for thousands of Microsoft Dynamics customers worldwide in almost every industry.
The job of helping them be successful falls to the Microsoft Dynamics Partners Group, which offers an array of resources, certification programs and incentives to enhance the services partners can provide and reward great work.
Doug Kennedy, vice president, Microsoft Dynamics Partners.
Back in July 2009, the group announced it would focus on helping partners design and implement “vertical” solutions — systems for specific industries, such as distribution, public sector, retail, manufacturing, financial services and professional services — which are in increasing demand as more savvy customers look for just the right blend of technologies for their businesses.
Today those efforts took another step forward when the group announced changes to the programs supporting partners that implement industry-specific technologies. The changes build on certification programs designed around the vertical solutions market, and include an incentive program that offers discounts for highly performing partners, as well as increased support and additional resources from Microsoft.
To get a better handle on today’s announcement, News Center spoke with Doug Kennedy, vice president of Microsoft Dynamics Partners, about the evolving market for vertical solutions, and how the changes announced today are designed to help partners grow and remain profitable.
News Center: First off, what are you announcing and how does it impact partners?
Kennedy: The market for Microsoft Dynamics solutions has become more and more specialized, and a year or so ago we announced some changes to our overall strategy designed to help partners take advantage of that opportunity. Today we’re announcing the latest steps in that effort. We’re launching a program specifically for Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM partners, and introducing some new program elements to motivate and recognize partners that are delivering high levels of growth and performance.
The first step in getting to this point was the announcement of the new ERP and CRM Competencies under the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN). These new competencies significantly raise the bar for the skills partners must have to achieve certification.
We also have some new programs to help our partners drive profitable growth, such as the Microsoft Dynamics Partners Academy and Marketing Services Bureaus. Those programs help partners prepare for ERP and CRM certification and market their services. We’ve also made some additional investments to put more industry experts in the field and better support our partners on the ground.
All these adjustments are designed to take full advantage of the growth in demand for ERP and CRM solutions within specific industries, and are part of our ERP and CRM solutions strategy. We think that by giving partners a repeatable model for delivering solutions to specific industries, it increases their ability to scale and helps them be more productive. That in turn makes the process easier for customers, which we hope will help drive demand.
News Center: Can you give us more detail on the programs?
Kennedy: The first is the Incentives Program, which aligns partner compensation with our mutual growth strategies. The new structure directly rewards growth in addition to total revenue. In many cases partners will have the opportunity to earn more than they do today. We believe this is a highly competitive, “pay-for-performance” partner discount model that will enable us to realize our growth goals. We have gained share in the ERP and CRM space during the economic downturn, and we expect to accelerate share gains as the market recovers. This program is part of that effort.
Second is the Autobill Program, which is aimed at automating and streamlining our Business Ready Enhancement Plan renewals. Historically, Microsoft and our partners have manually dealt with each renewal, so this program really simplifies that process.
The third thing we are announcing is a change to our Support and Services offerings to provide support for the entire Microsoft stack, advisory services and self-service capabilities. We are also aligning our support benefits with MPN and other Microsoft support offerings. The program motivates and rewards partners for their success in renewing the Enhancement contracts, which is a key indicator of customer satisfaction.
News Center: What about smaller partners that may have a tough time meeting the more stringent MPN and Microsoft Dynamics partner program requirements?
Kennedy: For Microsoft Dynamics partners that cannot meet the requirements, as well as the hundreds of thousands of Microsoft partners that do not sell Microsoft Dynamics, we are introducing the Lead Referral Program. This program is aimed at increasing our lead potential by allowing partners to be compensated for referrals that lead to new Microsoft Dynamics customer sales.
News Center: How will customers benefit from all this?
Kennedy: We think that building partner skills and giving them a predictable, repeatable process really helps customers in the end. Customers will find more compelling opportunities to do business with partners that have real vertical expertise, with solutions that offer a deep level of business value that is very specific to the way they operate. Finding the right partner for specific needs should also be easier, due to the more stringent MPN requirements, as well as the additional validation and certification of the industry expertise of our partners. Existing customers will also receive better support from partners and be provided with a simpler process for renewing their enhancement plans.
News Center: How does the Microsoft Dynamics partner engagement model compare to others in the industry?
Kennedy: Unlike many of our direct competitors, we are 100 percent focused on selling through our partner channel. 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 like SQL Server, SharePoint Server and Microsoft Office. We are ensuring that these products are tightly integrated, tying together business applications and data with the tools and processes companies use to drive their employee productivity and communication.
News Center: When will the changes take place?
Kennedy: All the marketing, training and engagement materials for the new Microsoft Dynamics Partner Programs are now available. The new programs we’re announcing will be happening in defined stages over the next 18 months. This vision and strategy is meant to prepare our partners and complete the transformation of the channel we started nearly two years ago. Partners can find more details on the new changes from the Microsoft Partner Network website, https://partner.microsoft.com.
News Center: The Microsoft Dynamics team has a series of events coming up that more than 3,000 partners are expected to attend. How will you be using these events to get partners up to speed?
Kennedy: We’re basically hitting the road this fall, talking to partners all over the world about the changes we’re making in the partner program, and how they can best utilize these resources to be more successful. Partners who want to attend should keep an eye on the Microsoft Partner Network site for more information.