One indication that Microsoft Corp. is serious about its latest push to capture and serve small and midsize companies is the executive firepower it is amassing in that business. A corporate reorganization that came to light in March put 12-year Microsoft veteran Orlando Ayala, former head of the Worldwide Sales, Marketing & Services Group at the company, at the top of its new Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partner Group.
In this position, Ayala is charged with making sure Microsofts 35,000 partners—6,000 of which are geared toward application sales and services—are working in sync, driving sales and marketing efforts in the SMB sector. As such, he is the point man for working with Microsofts seven business units on server and application products that are designed for SMBs.
"This fiscal year, we are making an investment of over $2 billion in product development, partner readiness and sales resources to help small and midmarket customers solve real problems within their business," said Ayala in an e-mail exchange. "We will continue to make significant technology investments across the broad spectrum of our product offerings to provide rich and relevant functionality, deep integration to improve business agility, and lower total cost of ownership for small and midmarket companies."
Microsoft is also investing heavily in its sales and marketing arm, with the goal of creating an integrated customer relationship, a better and more unified service offering, and greater access to a skilled partner network, according to Ayala.
VARs such as MaxQ Technologies Inc., which resells Microsofts Great Plains software, welcomed Ayala to his new role. "We think Orlando is a great addition," said John Pavain, president of MaxQ, in Norwalk, Conn. "The market has been fragmented and not well-served. [Microsoft] looked at Fortune 1000 [companies], and by definition theres only 1,000 of them. Where do you go from there? What Microsoft has been able to do is take technology that hasnt been [available for SMBs], like [business intelligence] and EDI [electronic data interchange] transactions and workflow and automation—stuff that didnt exist in the midmarket, and they couldnt afford it"—and make it available.
Ayala is getting help from Steven Guggenheimer, who joined SMS&P as vice president this summer. Guggenheimer, who has been with the Redmond, Wash., company for nine years, is responsible for working in conjunction with the business groups and Microsofts field organizations to deliver the small-business sales model, products, and sales and marketing tools. Also on hand is Allison Watson, vice president of Microsofts Worldwide Partner Group, who worked with Microsoft partners for 10 years before taking on the Partner Group last year.