Microsoft's partner development lead Glenn Woolaghan reflects on the vendor's recent win of the Vendor Innovation and Cloud Services Vendor of the Year accolades at the CRN awards
Outline Microsoft's channel strategy
Our mission is to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more and the strategy for the commercial partner channel has a similar theme; providing our partners with products, resources, programmes and skills they need to be set up for success.
That means helping ensure their people are the most capable individuals in the industry and their organisations offer unique differentiation and intellectual property using the best of Microsoft technology to resolve both long and short-term customer challenges. As a result, this means they are helping our joint customers to transform their digital presence - and ultimately be successful too.
What has been the highlight of 2016 for your business?
It's been a landmark year in Microsoft's history with huge product innovation in Azure, Office 365, Dynamics, HoloLens and Surface, but for me personally, there are two key highlights:
■ The massive business growth seen by many of our partners as they have built out new offerings for the SME/SMB market as an extension of our Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) programme.
■ The innovation that partners themselves are driving in the market in solving complex business challenges using machine learning and data services - all using the power of Azure in new and different ways.
How pleased are you to have won?
Delighted - while it's great recognition for the team that work on our channel business, it's also a great reflection on our extended partner community - and the impact and innovation we see daily.
How has the award been received in the company so far? How did you celebrate?
There's a real buzz at Microsoft at the moment - this recognition adds to the energy in the office. We'll be bringing the awards to our annual holiday party where our sales teams and partner teams come together to celebrate the success of the first half of our fiscal year and to let their hair down a bit.
What is your greatest channel achievement in 2016?
The growth and development of our Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) programme. Not only have we seen major growth in that part of our business, but it's been an enormous catalyst for differentiation across many of our partners in how they go to market, add value to customers and drive profitable growth through customer acquisition and lower operation costs. How important is the channel to your business? Quite simply, it's essential. Our success is built on our channel capacity, presence and capability. Microsoft has always been, and will always be a partner-centric organisation.
You'll probably have heard Satya Nadella's quote: "This company was built on enabling broad ecosystems and broad partner opportunity" - our role is to ensure that we continue to do this successfully - as people, processes and technology evolve. What are you looking ahead to in 2017? The new year is a great time to reflect on the impact that we have within the wider industry but also to set ourselves up for a strong year ahead.
There are three key things that we're focused on delivering bigger and better in the coming year:
■ Skills investments The UK economy is reliant on the tech/digital industry for growth and that requires technical talents across the country to ensure we remain competitive, embrace the fourth industrial revolution and stimulate digital growth in organisations of all sizes and across all industries.
■ Developing new capabilities and value The kit bag of technology to sell, use or manage has never been better and the market opportunity never bigger. But so too has the competition within the industry. This requires everyone to think carefully about the unique value their organisation brings to customers and what new capabilities and innovation they can bring to market. Some of the best partners have invested heavily in that introspection and as a result are winning customers in new industries and solution areas they might not previously have foreseen.
■ Execution, execution, execution The great thing about the channel is its relentless focus on execution and results. My responsibility is to ensure Microsoft supports the channel's focus on great execution through its programmes and people.
Glenn Woolaghan is partner development lead, Microsoft