Microsoft beefs up partner programs with AI and go-to-market differentiation

Microsoft beefs up partner programs with AI and go-to-market differentiation

New integrations, designations and specialisations announced to boost partner businesses.

Nicole Dezen (Microsoft)

Nicole Dezen (Microsoft)

Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft has delivered partner programme changes to help customers navigate new ways of working and partners to differentiate.

Six months on from the Microsoft's cloud partner program launch, the vendor has detailed new investments to support partners including AI integrations it said would help them to deliver innovation for clients.

Nicole Dezen, chief partner officer and corporate VP of global partner solutions, told virtual attendees at a State of the Partner Ecosystem event late last week that Microsoft now had more than 400,000 partners.

"Microsoft is the best partner for growth," she said. "We hold ourselves accountable to enable our partners to build healthy sustainable businesses. We are invested in partner-led growth and profitability."

For every $1 of Microsoft revenue, Dezen said services-led partners made $7.63 and software-led partners $10.11. Co-selling was key.

"A recent IDC study highlighted that partners that co-sell with Microsoft grow faster and they generate higher margin," she said. "In 2021 they achieved nearly double the revenue growth of partners that did not co-sell with Microsoft."

Seizing the AI opportunity

Recent AI integrations across Microsoft’s suite of tools presented an opportunity for partners to offer unique innovation, differentiated value and AI expertise to customers, the company said.

The new capabilities embraced Microsoft's search engine Bing, Dynamics 365 Copilot, ChatGPT in Azure Open AI Service as well as a specialisation for partners for AI and machine learning in Azure.

"We believe AI will fundamentally change every software category, unlocking a new wave of productivity growth," Microsoft said. "We are committed to empowering partners to harness the power of this innovation on behalf of customers around the world, while helping them navigate this new era of technology."

Having already created solutions partner designations within its Cloud Partner Program, the software giant has now added new designations for ISV developer partners aligned to how Microsoft goes to market and how, it said, customers were buying.

The new designations worked by industry, by use cases across industries, and by the imperatives of line-of-business leaders, distinguishing an application’s capabilities to help customers identify proven solutions for their needs.

Business applications specialisations also continued to provide partners with ways to further differentiate their organizations and demonstrate expertise and experience in specific technical scenarios.

D365 specialisations

Microsoft has introduced four new business application specialisations aligned to Microsoft Dynamics 365 to make it easier for customers to find partners with the expertise they needed. 

The new specialisations include finance, designed for partners with demonstrated knowledge, experience and success in Dynamics 365 finance; sales, for partners with proven skills in customer experience transformation and supporting customer growth; and service, for partners with experience delivering personalised service, quality interactions and "seamless, connected experiences at scale".

A new supply chain specialisation was also opened to partners with demonstrated knowledge, experience and success in Dynamics 365 supply chain management.

With these, Microsoft now offered a total of 28 specialisations, providing flexibility to partners on where to invest for their businesses and to serve customer needs.

To help partners make the most of its commercial marketplace, Microsoft said it would soon offer multiparty private offers to encourage partners to come together to create personalised offers for Microsoft customers.

Multiparty private offers will enter private preview this northern spring and be publicly available in the near future, Microsoft told partners.

"In addition, we’re continuing to expand the ways that partners can package and sell their solutions," the vendor said. In the coming months, partners would be able to transact containers and VM software through the marketplace.

Training and support services boosted

Also set to launch later this year were solutions partner designations for training and support services to help customers quickly identify partners that had met requirements, including demonstrating customer success.

The solutions partner designation for training services would recognise a partner’s capabilities aligned to performance, quality of training and a minimum of one solution area. 

The designation for support services, meanwhile, would build on solution area designations and highlight a partner’s breadth and excellence in support.

Badging for both designations would be available to help differentiate partner organisations with customers and in the marketplace.

Many customers were also looking to find partners aligned to their business values, Microsoft said. Partners, therefore, would be able to submit relevant diversity and social impact business classifications in the company's partner centre. These, in turn, would  appear in their business profiles in the marketplace. 

"By building this information into our system, it’s easy for customers to discover diverse-led businesses and their solution offerings in the commercial marketplace and through our co-sell channels," Microsoft said..

"As we look ahead, we are focused on ensuring partners have the skills, tools, and resources they need to compete — and win — in delivering innovative solutions that drive customer success."

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Tags MicrosoftAIindependent software vendors (ISVs)ISVspartnerspartner programsartificial intelligence (AI). ChatGPT

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