Microsoft partners that will be the most successful in the future will be those who have built their own IP or managed services offerings, and will have specific vertical offerings, according to UK general manager for small and mid-market solutions and partners, Clare Barclay.
This week, the vendor is holding its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Toronto, where the theme has been emerging technology such as mixed reality and cognitive services. During demonstrations of the kit on the main stage, and throughout keynote speeches, executives have encouraged partners to take the kit and develop their own offerings to go on top.
In previous years at WPC, execs have focused more heavily on licence resale programmes, incentives and rebates. But this year has a much stronger tech focus.
Barclay told CRN this is part of the company's push to encourage more partners to do their own thing with its technology, rather than to simply resell it.
"Think about how the market has changed in three years - it's huge," she said. "Any partner who is not thinking about how to build either managed services or intellectual property and packaging that up to their customer, or if they are just sticking to doing resale, they're not the partners who are going to be the most successful going forwards.
"What we're trying to do is come up with offerings which brings it all together and allows partners to package it up and offer a managed service to customers. We're trying to innovate with the right products and get them in the market so partners can be successful and grow profitable businesses."
Further, Barclay said that specifically focusing on vertical markets and specific customers - rather than a one-size-fits-all approach - will stand partners in good stead for growth.
"The other theme which is big in the UK is encouraging partners to be more vertical," she said. "Thinking about not just the technology, but what type of customers they're servicing. We've done a good job on that in the SMB so far this year, but we're really thinking about how we package stuff up with partners who can build specific IP for financial services or legal, for example. Many partners tend to say ‘we just service customers', but we find the most successful ones are the ones who think about the customers they are trying to serve [specifically]. Then they can build that out."
Brexit - challenge or opportunity?
Before last month's referendum about the UK's membership of the EU, Microsoft came out strongly in favour of remaining within the union. Barclay said that although the vote did not go the way the company had liked, it remains committed to the region because it is an "enormous market and a great opportunity for us".
"So where opportunity gets taken away, new opportunity comes up"
She said some partners have reported back some uncertainty among customers, but she said that there are still opportunities to be had in light of the decision.
"After the initial shock of the results, I am seeing partners settle down a bit," she said.
"If you look at some of the markets which were immediately impacted - housing, financial services - where stock prices for companies came down, there was a shock and [concerns about] how are these markets going to recover. But then a week later, Asian [investors] are now looking at housing because it is cheaper because of the pound. So where opportunity gets taken away, new opportunity comes up. I think that's the thing we have to work through with partners - we have to help them [see] where we think there will be markets for opportunity, and where we think there will be markets with a challenge."
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