Gavriella Schuster: Worldwide Partner Conference 2016

Remarks by Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Partner Group, in Toronto, Canada, July 13, 2016.

FILIPA PRESTON:  I’m Filipa Preston, Chief Executive Officer at Software Optimization Services in Perth, Australia, and Vice Chair of the IMACP Australia.

I encourage you all to become a part of the IMACP in your area.  We are honored to be the 2016 Microsoft Partner of the Year for Software Asset Management.  What excites me most about the future is the opportunity we have to empower women in business and inspire young people to believe in the power of purpose and profitability.  Now, ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Partner Group, Gavriella Schuster.


GAVRIELLA SCHUSTER:  The only constant in life is change.  It’s something you’ve heard quite a bit this week, and it is absolutely true.  Isaac Asimov, a renowned science-fiction author calls it the driving factor behind society.  When it comes to digital transformation, Asimov is doubly right, both about the pace of change and the need to look ahead to tomorrow.

Technologies change, faster now than ever before.  Release cycles used to span 18 months; now there are new releases almost every single day.  Just look at some of the innovations that you have seen this week, and that pace of change is not slowing down.  Industries change.  Think about disrupters like Uber, Netflix and Airbnb. They have upended whole industries with new business models enabled by the power of digital transformation and the power of technology.

And customers change.  In fact, customers drive change, new buyers, new buying cycles, new ways of buying.  And the cloud opportunity just continues to explode.  Analysts like IDC and AMI Partners predict that the greater cloud market will top $500 billion by the year 2020.  The cloud is no longer a nascent trend.  It is the new normal.  IDC reports that more than 80 percent of business buyers have already deployed or fully embraced the cloud.  In a world of constant change, you need to be quick to capture the opportunity.  You need to be agile. You need to be innovative.  And you need to embrace it.

Microsoft chose to embrace change.  And we have stronger cloud momentum thanks to all of you than ever before: 85 percent of the Fortune 500 are using the Microsoft Cloud.  And we’ve seen triple-digit growth on Microsoft Azure this year.  Our partner momentum has never been stronger with what could be our greatest go-to-market offering yet with the Cloud Solution Provider program.  It is clearly working for all of you.  We have now over 17,000 partners transacting CSP.  Over 3 million seats sold, and in the month of May alone you sold more services through CSP than open, advisor and syndication.  (Applause.)

And Microsoft continues to invest in creating new opportunities for you in our research and development.  You heard Scott say we had hundreds of new cloud-serviced releases last year.  There’s more than one a day.  Each and every one extensible.  Each and every one an opportunity for you.

Our partners who have embraced the cloud are seeing the payoff.  Those of you who have more than 50 percent of your revenue in the cloud are earning more than $5, on average $5.87, in your own services and solutions for every $1 of Microsoft services that you sell.  That’s 40 percent higher than your peers who are less vested in the cloud.  And you have higher gross profit and more recurring revenue.  That’s a business you want to be in.

And so I ask you, what are you doing to seize this opportunity?

One partner, Blackbaud, chose to embrace change.  Blackbaud has been delivering software solutions to the global philanthropic community for more than the last 35 years.

But they told me that in a cloud-first world, the opportunity is different.  And the way that they’re seizing that opportunity is different.

In a traditional on-premises world, Blackbaud had to conform to the customers’ technology environments.  They were bound by the versions the customer ran, by the scale of their network, by their bandwidth.

But the cloud untethers the customer and untethers you to deliver more repeatable, more scalable and more differentiated services than ever before.

Blackbaud embraced that opportunity.  And they chose to re-platform their flagship product on Microsoft Azure, and they’ve seen the payoff.

Let me share with you one of their customer stories.  The customer is Water Mission.  Water Mission delivers safe water, sanitation and hygiene solutions to people in more than 50 countries.

Water Mission calls the combination of Blackbaud and Microsoft their “dynamic duo” for technology innovation, reliability, scalability and impact.

Blackbaud’s predictive analytics and data intelligence solutions enable Water Mission to go from data to actionable insight.

Within minutes of turning on their solution, Water Mission was able to identify nearly 900 new donors worth up to a million dollars in new funding.

Water Mission can turn that million dollars into safe water for 100,000 people for the rest of their lives.

Blackbaud did not have to reinvent themselves in order to embrace change.  It’s not about becoming a different company.  It’s about doing things differently.

Let me give you another example.  MyCorporation, another Microsoft partner.  They build a cloud-based, paperless process solution for the public sector.  Their solution is based on Dynamics, Microsoft Azure, SQL Server and 10 of their own unique patents.

In public sector, antiquated processes abound and change can be a little hard to sustain.

MyCorporation’s solution enables customers like the U.S. Department of Agriculture to deliver a completely paperless inspection process that saves employee productivity, that created higher data accuracy and saved the taxpayers money.

But technology solutions in the cloud are not the only way that MyCorporation chose to embrace change.

Located in North Carolina, MyCorporation decided to go global.  And so they turned to the Microsoft Partner Network, and they found and built partnerships around the world.

Their services are now available in the U.K., Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong.  And their partner network is nearly 90 partners strong, most of whom came from within the Microsoft Partner Network.

The cloud erased the barriers, the geographical barriers, that would have existed just a few years ago.

MyCorporation did not have to go find and win customers themselves all around the world in order to scale their business.  They were able to scale through partnerships by identifying partners who had complementary businesses, who knew the platform, who knew the customer, and together they were able to seize new opportunities together.

Blackbaud and MyCorporation are just two examples of partners who embraced the cloud and are seeing the payoffs and are accelerating their profitability.

But there are many, many more ways for all of you.  The Microsoft partner ecosystem is full of resources, insights and knowledge.  And we want to help you tap into each other to join the conversation, join the Microsoft partner communities online.  Read “The Modern Partner” e-book series.  Reach out to each other, take advantage of your time here at WPC and reach out to me directly.

I am here to help you succeed.  That’s my job.  And I know that we only truly succeed together.  You’ve heard, we depend on you.  We are deeply invested in you.  We care about your profitability, and it shows.

AMI Channel Research conducted a study.  And they found that partners doing business with Microsoft are 19 percent more profitable on their own services and their own solutions than with our nearest cloud competitor.

That’s because we’re partner-led.  That’s because we depend on you to go to market with us, to complete our solutions, extend our solutions, drive consumption, build on our platform.  We are deeply invested in you.

We care about your profitability.  So I looked around the ecosystem.  We did a survey, and we found our most-profitable and most-successful partners to figure out what do they do?  What is the secret sauce?  What are their best practices?  And we found they have four key attributes.

One, differentiation.  You can differentiate like MyCorporation or Blackbaud around partnerships or IT, but there are many more ways, vertical solutions, industry solutions, horizontal solutions, solution aggregation across the breadth of Microsoft’s portfolio, across the breadth of the world’s industries. There are probably millions of points of differentiation.

No. 2, 65 percent of business buyers make their buying decision today before ever talking to a sales person.  You need to be where your customer is.  You need to be in their communities, you need to be in their professional network.  You need a strong digital marketing footprint.

No. 3, the most-profitable partners run their business like a factory.  They find repeatability, scalability, standardization and efficiency in every corner of their business.

And, four, and probably most important, they focus on delivering customer lifetime value.

In the services-led economy, “one and done” will no longer drive your profitability.  You need to package your services, you need to build subscription services.  You need to provide value to your customer every single day.

When you build your business and you have these four key attributes in your organization, the sky is the limit on your growth potential.

We want to help you build your recipe for success.

One of the most-important things that Microsoft can do for you is to connect you with customers, to connect you with more customers.  Customers tell us that the Microsoft endorsement is highly valuable to them when they’re looking for a technology advisor or technology solution.

So we need to make it more obvious and more clear to our customers who the best partner is to help them with their unique challenge.

Earlier this spring, we announced a simplification of the partner competencies to do just that, make it simpler.

I’m happy to say today we’re taking the second step in that journey of making it more obvious to our customers.  And for the first time ever, we’re coupling the Microsoft logo to the Gold Partner brand.

Take a look at how that manifests itself in the Power BI solution showcase.

(Video:  Power BI.)

GAVRIELLA SCHUSTER:  Do you see how that Gold Partner brand shines?  (Cheers, applause.)

And I want to help you build more robust and innovative cloud solutions.  So this year, we are doubling our cloud platform internal-use rights for you.  (Cheers, applause.)

I also want to help you build new cloud and hybrid practices on our advanced workloads.  And so we’re investing more technical resources in the field, cloud architects, to help you build those new practices.

That brings our total field investment to over 3,500 people.  That’s 3,500 people dedicated to your success, helping you build a stronger digital marketing footprint.  Helping you connect with customers.  Helping you to close sales opportunities and helping you to build new cloud and hybrid practices.

That is industry-leading.  And there’s more.  You saw a minute ago the Power BI Partner Solution Showcase.  And yesterday Scott told you about the AppSource marketplace.  Those are just two examples of the many web properties, of the many websites and marketplaces that we manage to deliver to customers an in-context experience so that they can find the right solution in their digital buying journey.

We want to pop your solutions, your services, your applications in front of the customer while they’re in their digital buying journey.

Today, we deliver over a million referrals to our best partners every year.  But the experience has been optimized for our customers.

I also need to make sure we optimize the experience for you.  That’s my job.

So we have reimagined the referral engine and connected that referral engine to all of our web properties and all of our marketplaces.

What if I could provide you with a single place and a single way to upload your profile, your services, your solutions and your applications, and we would populate it into all of our digital properties?  (Applause.)

And what if I could then give you one single management console for all of those referrals to come back to, whether it’s from our field or any of our web properties, to help you focus on actually closing those prospects?  (Applause.)

That’s what I mean when I say we have reimagined the referral engine for today’s marketplace.  We’re working on that, we have some of that today, and my commitment is we will have all of that this year for you.

And what if I could help you take your CSP services and easily create your own online marketplace connected to our referral engine?  We’ve done that too.  (Applause.)

(Video:  CSP/SDK Partner Center.)

GAVRIELLA SCHUSTER:  I’m excited to tell you that that’s available to you right now.  And so stop by the MDN booth in the commons to get started on that and all of the investments that Microsoft is making in you this year.

We want to help you take advantage of these opportunities.  As Satya said on Monday, Microsoft is partner-led today and tomorrow.  We want to help you seize this moment.

Embrace change now and seize tomorrow’s opportunities today.

According to IDC, 10 percent — less than 10 percent of our business buyers have achieved optimal levels of cloud maturity.  But in the next two years, 50 percent, more than half of them, believe they will.

Will you help these customers with their digital transformation?  And CIOs want to innovate.  Today, 40 percent of CIOs see themselves as operational leaders.  But in the next three years, 60 percent expect to be the chief innovation officer.  Will you help this community transform?

That’s what I ask you.  Are you ready to embrace change now and seize those opportunities today?  Now is the time.  Now is the time to invest in new ways of doing business.  Now is the time to accelerate your cloud growth.  And now is the time to build a business with us that will serve the world not only as it is today, but as it will be tomorrow.

And I look forward to doing that with all of you in this coming year. Thank you.

(Cheers, applause.)