Microsoft UK channel leader Janet Gibbons is set to leave her partner-facing role in the new year, sparking concern from some partners who are worried what the move says about the vendor's channel strategy.
From next month, Gibbons will become devices and services lead of corporate accounts and will be replaced by Linda Rendleman (pictured left) who is currently Microsoft's director of distribution and scale. Gibbons was appointed as director for partner business and development in April 2011.
Next month was also set to see a wave of changes to the vendor's partner network in order to better incorporate cloud technology, but the vendor said partner feedback had driven it to stagger the changes into two stages next year instead. Since the summer, Microsoft has been keen to make its transition to become a "devices and services" firm – a move which soon-to-depart boss Steve Ballmer said partly prompted his decision to stand down from his role.
The company-wide restructure together with Gibbons' new role has prompted concern among its UK resellers, with some claiming the vendor's channel strategy is unstable.
One Microsoft partner who asked not to be named said the vendor has "no idea what it is doing with its partner model" and the recent personnel changes reflect this.
Kelvin Kirby, treasurer of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners, claimed partners will be concerned by the amount of change, although he added this is not necessarily any reflection on the individuals involved.
"I think the channel will be wary of a new person, there is an awful lot of churn in Microsoft at the moment and lots of uncertainty because of the changes," he said.
"I do think this reinforces the instability within Microsoft – that's what it looks like – they are trying to frantically move people around to fix the problem, which isn't a personnel thing; it's [a problem] with the MPN [Microsoft Partner Network] programme. From a partner perspective, it's just another challenge for them in 2014."
Other partners were more positive about the move: NCI Technologies boss Andy Trish congratulated Gibbons (pictured, below right) on her new role and said he was keen to see how the changes panned out in the new year.
Softcat's boss Colin Brown said it was important not to read too much into the staff movements, and added that change is par for the course with Microsoft.
Clare Barclay, partner general manager at Microsoft UK, said Rendleman's appointment will be great news for the channel.
"As a 23-year veteran of the IT channel, four of which have been spent managing both breadth and depth partner teams at Microsoft, Linda brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding about partner to this critical role," she said.
"We are at a pivotal time in the transformation of our business to devices and services and I look forward to seeing the impact that Linda will drive in helping our channel maximise the opportunity and take our UK partner strategy to the next level."
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