Microsoft: we'll work hard to make it easy

The need for continued innovation in terms of partnering and product was the main message delivered by Microsoft Australia partner director, Kerstin Baxter, at the software giant’s annual Australia and New Zealand Partner Conference on the Gold Coast last week.

“We need to enhance the way we work together to make business profitable and sustainable for the long-term,” she said. “Our overall goal is to be your best business partner. The best partner experience needs consistency and predictability.”

Baxter said the biggest complaint she received from business partners was that Microsoft was a complex organisation to deal with. She said it was working to internalise that complexity.

Microsoft was focussing on three key areas – relationships, opportunities and programs – according to Baxter.

Backing up her relationship claims, she said all Microsoft gold partners had now been appointed with an account manager and all certified partners had been able to deal with a single phone-based contact since March.

On average, she said a Microsoft Australia account manager would deal with 10 gold partners while about 70 certified partners would share the same phone-based contact.

Microsoft had also invested in greater numbers of telesales staff to generate a larger volume of opportunities and supplement the existing activities of partners in the marketplace, Baxter said.

“We felt that partners often invested a lot in their relationship with Microsoft and that same level of commitment was not there from us,” she said. In terms of creating opportunities during the past year, Baxter said Microsoft was continuing to develop marketing campaigns to maximise partner opportunities.

It had launched Business Benefits in May to help offset the costs of investment in a Microsoft partnership as well as Open Value last month to address profit margins.

Open Value guaranteed a minimum 10 per cent profit margin for partners and 12 per cent for certified partners, she said.

Recently added programs that made it easier to work with Microsoft included supporting the independent software vendor (ISV) community, Baxter said. These partners were not catered for under the Certified Partner Program, which was designed to deal with partners that had products that were ready to go to market.

Microsoft also launched a redesigned partner portal last week to give its partners easier access to sales, marketing and readiness information. While Baxter said that feedback had suggested partners were happy with the content provided in the portal, there had been complaints that relevant information was often hidden too far into the site.

Further improvements were scheduled for April.

Brian Corrigan travelled to the Microsoft partner conference as a guest of Microsoft.

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