Gavriella Schuster: Worldwide Partner Conference 2015

Remarks by Gavriella Schuster, General Manager, Microsoft Partner Network, in Orlando, Florida, July 15, 2015.


GAVRIELLA SCHUSTER:  Increasing your profitability and enabling your market acceleration is my job.  I have the best job at Microsoft, because not only are you at the center of the work that I do but you are the hero of my story.

Today, I want to share with you three areas that we’re investing to increase your market value, to amplify your marketing impact, and to grow your market influence.  Let’s start with your people.  It goes without saying that your people are one of your greatest assets.  And what better way to increase your market value than to invest in the skills and capability of your people through training?

But we share in your challenge that it’s hard to keep up with the fast pace of technology change today.  And we know we need to reimagine our approach to help you.  This year you’ll see us innovating in four areas, training, certification, exam delivery, and performance tracking.  Microsoft will consolidate all partner training into the Microsoft Virtual Academy, and we’ll go where your people go to learn.  MOOC, or Massive Open Online Courses, are a way for us to provide hands-on experiential training at scale for your people.

We recognize that the process for certification doesn’t sit with the agile, readiness model of today.  So we’re moving to a continuous education approach through skills badging.  That’s a lightweight, low friction way to earn credentials, and bring your people along at earlier, more tangible milestones.  And we want to save you time.  So we’re expanding the availability of online exam proctoring so that your people can take the exams from their own home in their bunny slippers and pajamas if they want, or in the office without traveling miles out of their way to a testing center.

And we also want you spend more time with your customer and less time on tracking and administration.  So I’ve gotten this request from many of you all year, we are eliminating the requirements to track unique MCPs per competency — (applause) I’m glad you like that — and the tracking of sales assessments, so that we can focus more on the outcomes through your performance, which means I need to give you better ways to track your own performance.

Through the online dashboards, like John started to show you on Monday, available at the MPN portal you can track your own performance at a glance, and you can track your customers’ cloud usage and consumption at a glance as well.  To really accelerate your potential, we’re continuing our partnership with SkyKick to get you up and running on Office 365 for your own internal use quickly.

We’re also expanding the number of Azure service credits that we provide to you and giving you access to Visual Studio Enterprise Edition, the top level edition.  (Applause.)  I’m glad you like that, too.

And through our ISV hub at the MPN portal, we’ll help you build your application, bring your application to market, and build your business in the cloud.  These are just some of the many ways that we’re investing to help you get in, get out, and get on with your business.

The second area that we’re investing is to amplify your marketing impact and customer connection.  Many of you have less than 10 people in marketing.  That means you have to make every ounce of marketing effort really count.  And as Phil said, to meet the modern customer where they are, you need more impactful digital marketing.  So we partnered with IDC to identify best practices in digital marketing from some of you, our best cloud partners, and we package that into prescriptive guidance to increase the capability of your marketers.

And we’ve curated a set of digital marketing services through DigitalStride that will help you with your search engine optimization, optimizing your online presence and pinpoint profile.  And we’ll also give you Bing service credits to do search engine marketing.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

Now we’re going to innovate in our own digital marketing, too, because we want to provide you lots of air cover and drive a lot of customer demand.  So we’ll have product marketing campaigns.  We’ll have industry campaigns and vertical campaigns.  And we’re even going to do connected sales and marketing campaigns to get new buyers like CMOs.

But I know, I’ve heard from you that is way too complicated for your limited marketing resources to navigate and track and participate in.  So we’re taking a completely different approach this year, and we’re simplifying our marketing so that we are selecting one broad-based customer marketing campaign that we’re doing to ask you to participate with us.

It’s focused on helping customers modernize their business and it’s called Modern Biz.  This campaign is anchored on four customer scenarios that are cross-product and solution-oriented, targeted at helping our customers grow their business and helping you to maximize each socket that you sell and deploy.

How do I know that?  Because we actually did research with 1,200 of you leading in the cloud to identify the partner profitability scenarios inside those four customer scenarios, and we’ve identified how we can help you maximize your top-line revenue, minimize your cost of goods sold, and grow your shareholder value.  So that’s — partner profitability guidance is also available at the MPN portal.

And you are the headline story of our own customer marketing.  We’re marketing you, the partners, to our customers through partner stories.  These are customer stories where the partner is the hero of the story.  And we’ve already seen strong success.  In our very first month we drove over 24,000 views, and in the campaign we used to market it over a million impressions.  And we’ve only just begun.

We’ve published 15 stories.  We have 100 more in the queue.  And we’re going to continue to find, build and publish new ones throughout the year.  So if you have a story you’d like us to tell, let us know at the MPN portal.  And so while we market and syndicate these stories through paid and social media, you can watch the 15 we already published at the MPN portal.

The third area that we’re investing is to grow your market influence and presence.  We believe a lynchpin to your success is in partnering with each other.  After all, you are the most powerful ecosystem in the industry.  The cloud enables more global reach and collaboration than ever before.  Partnering with each other helps you expand your reach, expand your services capabilities, and build a channel within our Microsoft channel.  This can help you increase your customer satisfaction, increase your customer lifetime value, and reduce your customer churn.

Now you may be thinking, that’s interesting but not for me.  Consider this, as both Phil and Steve told you, in this competitive market, you need to stand out.  You need a unique value proposition and differentiation, potentially you need IP.  That all says specialization.  You can’t do it all.

But your customers still want you to be their strategic IP advisor, their one-stop shop.  I’m telling you, you can do it all by partnering with each other.  It enables you to extend your services offerings in advance of your own practice investments.  And we’re investing to help you find and connect with partners who have complementary skills, solutions and IP so that you can go to market faster with higher efficiency and greater profitability.

One such investment is with a partnership we did with Dynasource.  They enable dynamic sourcing, not only can they help you complete the offerings you present to your customers, but they can help you to increase your own staff utilization.  Getting to 100 percent staff utilization is one of the best ways that we can help increase your profitability.  So we’re in a pilot with Dynasource over the next six months in Western Europe.  So check it out at the MPN portal.

We also want to help you build your own unique IP.  So we’re investing in a partnership with DevDraft.  They help you review and assess the capabilities and the work of qualified developers and then you have the opportunity to participate in the draft like you were a big league sports franchise and draft them into your organization.

And through our many communities like the IAMCP, the Women in Technology — (cheers/applause) — the SMB Pals, and the ISV Networking Community among many others that we sponsor we’ll help you find and connect with other partners all around the world.  The example my friends at Insightly that you saw before I came on the stage, an ISV that does an O365 add-in for small-business CRM reached out to four other ISVs with complementary O365 add-ins and together they’re going to market that SMB suite.

That will enable them to meet a unique customer need to grow all of their businesses and to multiply the impact of their individual marketing.  You can talk to them.  They’re standing by at the end of the show, at the smart keep booth.

And before I leave the stage there’s one other successful partner-to-partner story I’d like to share with you.  It’s through our 2015 SharePoint ISV partner of the year Nintex.  (Cheers.)  So please join me in welcoming Brett Campbell the co-founder of Nintex to share more of their story.  (Applause.)


BRETT CAMPBELL:  Thanks, Gavriella, how are you?


So do you want to share with everybody a little bit about Nintex and your O365 solution?

BRETT CAMPBELL:  Of course, you know I love talking about Nintex.  Nintex is traditionally referred to by Microsoft as an ISV or a products company built on the Microsoft stack.  We’ve been transforming our business to the cloud services company and that journey started around four years ago.  Today we deliver a low code workflow automation platform in the Microsoft cloud, on-premise with our customers, or a combination of both.  We support over 22 languages across 90 countries and we have 8 million users from our 5,000 customers worldwide.  Our cloud solution enables also 1,000 of our partners to resell and deliver a drag-and-drop productivity platform with mobile business apps for companies betting on Office 365.

GAVRIELLA SCHUSTER:  Well it’s clear to see why you’re our SharePoint ISV partner of the year.  What’s your growth been like over the last few years?

BRETT CAMPBELL:  The business has ramped really quickly.  We introduced our Office 365 platform around two years ago and we’re seeing significant levels of maturity now, including KPIs like Phil was talking about and metrics to suit a cloud services company.  We never had that before.  And in that timeframe we’ve extended our solution in conjunction with Office 365 and how that’s matured as a service.

And in that same timeframe we’ve increased, or we’ve grown our revenue 30 percent year-on-year, maintained high profitability and we’ve also grown our own partner network by 70 percent just last year.  Partners are helping our business grow and they have a lot to do with our success.

GAVRIELLA SCHUSTER:  That’s very impressive growth and it’s great to see that you’re scaling through a thriving channel partner ecosystem.  How did you go about recruiting those 1,000 partners that you mentioned earlier?

BRETT CAMPBELL:  As you know we were a SharePoint consulting business in Australia when we first built Nintex, so we knew a lot about the region and the partners in that region.  We were excited about our global opportunity to grow a new channel inside your channel.  One of our main goals was to transform those consulting competitors locally to Nintex channel partners.  After we had done that we knew what to look for in a successful partner.  We then used Microsoft and some tools to help us locate those partners.  Pinpoint was the primary mechanism for discovery, and then we layered our partner profile of the successful partners on top to drive the right conversations.

GAVRIELLA SCHUSTER:  So you’re a canonical example of building a partnership within our Microsoft channel.  So how do you use events like WPC to continue to network?

BRETT CAMPBELL:  This is my 14th WPC.  I remember when it was Fusion.  So the Worldwide Partner Conference for us is the most important partner event for the year.  We’re a partner-centric business and we also use our partners to enable and celebrate with them this year.  So what we do is we align with your fiscal year, because that’s what Nintex does, and it’s a great time to kick off the business for our top partners.

We had our partner pre-day, where we had some great Microsoft speakers.  We also had or Nintex party on Monday night where we celebrated our partner success and recognized some award winners.  We also had 70 people here today from Nintex doing partner-to-partner activity.  This is a networking gold mine for us and for all partners out there.

GAVRIELLA SCHUSTER:  Wow, 14 years, that’s as many as we’ve had.  And it’s great to see that after all that time you still find it to be in that working gold mine.  Hopefully all of you are finding the same thing here this week.

So, Brett, you and I we’ve been doing a little piloting ourselves to see how we could market our mutual partners and help you continue to grow your channel.  Do you want to share a little bit about our Pinpoint pilot?

BRETT CAMPBELL:  Definitely.  We used Pinpoint historically to locate partners that we now partner with.  So this week we’ve also launched our new partner portal, as you can see on the screen there, and that’s giving our partners access to tools and resources to help themselves market and close business with Nintex.  Now we’ve also extended that to the Pinpoint application, as well, so our partners now can find each other, our customers can find our partners, all by the Pinpoint API.  It’s really exciting and it’s going to allow us to get our customers to the right partner to have the right business discussions.

GAVRIELLA SCHUSTER:  You know, this pilot is really exciting to me, as well, because while we skin and syndicate Pinpoint through all our Microsoft properties already, like Dynamics, and Azure, and Windows, and all that, this isn’t the first time that we’ve syndicated Pinpoint externally.  And I really want to figure out how I can market our partners’ business everywhere and I think there is some real potential here.  So I just have to figure out how I can scale what we’ve done to help all of our partners build a channel like you have.

BRETT CAMPBELL:  We’re happy to share our experiences with everybody here today.  They can come and see us at our booth and the partner team there, and even talk to me personally.  It’s been a great evolution of Pinpoint and we’re so excited to be involved.

GAVRIELLA SCHUSTER:  Well, it’s a great offer; you should all take him up on that, because he’s hard to get a hold of otherwise.

My longer-term aspirations are actually even bigger than that.  I want to figure out how I can take our many multiples of investments that Microsoft makes in building and supporting our partner ecosystem and our partner programs to extend that infrastructure to all of you to help you decrease your costs in partnering with each other and marketing to your customers and in scaling up.

So, Brett, thank you so much for sharing your story and thanks for your partnership.

BRETT CAMPBELL:  Thanks, Gav, see you.


GAVRIELLA SCHUSTER:  We go to work each and every day with you as the hero of our story in everything we do, in our planning, in our reimagining and in our innovating.  Simply put, we’re here to help you increase your value, decrease your cost, and make it easier to do business with us.  This is the promise we make in our partnership with you.  This is our commitment to you.

Thank you.