25 Sep 2015
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The lessons for partners from Microsoft's Partner Connect event

By Catherine Knowles

The Microsoft New Zealand Partner Connect event in Auckland had the recurring message that partners should waste no time capitalising on the opportunities presented by the mobile-first, cloud-first digital era.

With Satya Nadella at the helm, Microsoft is now ‘laser focused’ on three key pillars: reinventing productivity and business processes, creating more personal computing, and building the intelligent cloud platform.

Highlighting Microsoft’s products and services that reflect this focus, namely Windows 10, Azure, the Surface Hub and Office 365, various key speakers at the event talked about where the company is going and how they plan to take their partners with them.

Paul Bowkett, Microsoft New Zealand cloud business manager, took to the stage to highlight the success of the New Zealand market and the cloud services partners can capitalise on.

According to Bowkett, at present, more than 900 Microsoft NZ Partners have sold Office 365, tens of thousands of businesses are running on Office 365, and there is 22% penetration of commercial customers.

On top of this, 130,000 businesses are still looking to convert to the platform - representing one million workers.

“The Microsoft cloud market is being made right now,” he says.

To maximise the potential of this, Microsoft has made the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) programme available in New Zealand.

Jared Pedersen, Microsoft New Zealand partner business and development manager, says the programme provides partners with access to new cloud services, more markets and new capabilities.

Furthermore, the programme is designed to help partners be more profitable while navigating the transition to an annuity-based cloud business model, according to Brent Kendrick, Microsoft partner director.

Bowkett says partners can contact CSP distributors Ingram Micro, Dicker Data, and Exeed to buy Microsoft Cloud services, get billed monthly, and have access to additional services that complement the underlying services.

Office 365, CRM Online and the Enterprise Mobility Suite are already available on this platform, Azure will be launching on it at the end of September, and Dynamics AX will be available later this year, he says.

“The key value proposition of the programme is you own the billing relationship, you own the provisioning, the administration, the management of that customer’s tenant, all for that monthly bill concept. This means you can scale up, scale down as you need," Bowkett says.

“We will of course continue to provide our services through other purchasing mechanisms such as Open Licencing, Enterprise Agreements as well as direct through the web."

Bowkett also mentioned there will be technical and sales training programmes for cloud services Azure, Office 365 and CRM Online, as well as Deep Dive SharePoint to help partners move customers from file servers.

Furthermore, he highlighted the Cloud Profitability Playbook, which is a set of guidelines and tools around how to build a profitable cloud business, and cloud services dashboards for Office 365, EMS, Power BI and Azure with incentives aligned with active usage attainment.

“Quite frankly we have way too many customers just using Exchange, and we want to give them what they’re paying for," Bowkett says.

“We want to open their eyes up about the capability and productivity improvements that they can get from using the full suite of our services.

“Skype and SharePoint are our biggest opportunity in New Zealand today. We have hundreds of thousands of people on Exchange, and all of those people are viable opportunities to move to SharePoint and Skype,” he says.

“This annuity business, this cloud business is about a land grab - it’s happening right now.

“There are partners in this room with thousands and thousands of seats deployed and hundreds of customers, and there are some partners in this room that haven’t yet embarked on this journey.

“Wherever you’re at on that process, get going on it now. Put the pedal to the metal, because this is the time to get customers on board to cloud services,” he says.

Bowkett set partners the challenge: double your customer base this year.

Also discussed at the event was how Microsoft is building its intelligent cloud with the Enterprise Mobility Suite, made up of Office365, Microsoft Dynamics and Power BI.

Upcoming innovations with Azure include an Azure Mentor Programme, Cortana analytics, Azure site recovery, Visual Studio 2015, Azure Premium Storage and Azure Marketplace.

Carol Gildden, Windows and Surface Business Group lead focused on how Windows 10 is enabling businesses.

She talked about the opportunities the operating platform presents: such as providing protection against modern security threats, a new approach to how Windows is managed and deployed - including the opportunity to have new conversations with customers, devices for businesses - including a lineup of business-ready devices such as the Surface Pro 3, and productivity for users.

Gildden highlighted the benefits of Windows as a service for consumer devices, business users and specialised systems.

Another key aspect of the learning session was a look at how the Microsoft Partner Network provides benefits, including partner advisory hours, technical pre-sales assistance, access to the partner support community, signature cloud support incidents, product support incidents, and online interactive sessions.

The Partner Connect event wrapped up with a discussion on how the education market presents an opportunity to Microsoft partners throughout New Zealand.

Microsoft has now uploaded videos of the presentations. Watch part one here, and click here for part two.

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