Microsoft Partners Shouldnt Feel
Threatened"> Witts agreed that while Microsofts enterprise group had focused mainly on workload specialists over the past five years, going forward it would be adding more industry specialists than workload specialists. But he denied that these moves would tread on the toes of its channel and other partners and bring the company into more direct competition with them.That being said, Microsoft is changing the way it picks and works with partners, he said. While over the past five years Microsoft had chosen partners based on how committed they were to its technologies, it is now picking partners based on their solution sets. As Microsoft builds out that platform and releases more CRM and financial solutions, "by definition, we only want partners with vertical expertise," Witts said. "Partners need to self-profile and promote on the solutions side, or we will pick partners through our partner selection and solution segmentation process, which will give us more precise relationships," he said. Read here about how Microsofts CRM delay is irking its users. But while Witts stressed that Microsoft was not in the services business and did not plan to become a services player, he said it would aggressively move to make sure its customers infrastructure was more secure and better managed, which means moving into the management and security businesses. "Thats a boundary thats suddenly gone, but system partners like Citrix are still going gang-busters with us," he said, but did admit that there was friction when Microsoft redefined what software businesses it was in. However, it does not actually have any industry solutions itself but rather the frameworks and accelerators for those, Witts said. The enterprise group also took a fundamental decision a year ago, after weighing the question of whether its partners were a strategic asset or competitive inhibitor, to remain partner-led in the enterprise. "Interoperability allows us to have a rich set of partners that makes us a stronger vendor, but we are the guy that has to knit it all together and take single accountability. That is, frankly, our core premise," Witts said. But he did acknowledge that Microsoft needed to be more predictable and had done a bad job of saying where it was going with new areas like the MBS (Microsoft Business Solutions) platform. "People hate you being unpredictable. Your go-to market also has to be predictable and then I think partnerships can evolve with the industry, and thats the biggest thing," he said. However, Microsoft is also not going to stand idly by and "let our partnerships stop us from keeping up with where the market and the industry is going. If that happens, both you and your partners lose," he cautioned. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.
"While it is very true that our small and midmarket business is 100 percent partner-led, but even as we have got into the business solutions business with Great Plains and Navision, they were both 100 percent partner-led as well," he said.