In the first in our three-blog series, Roel Decneut introduced our exciting new Intelligent Asset Manager tool (IAM), which we first announced at Inspire 2017. The IAM tool will play an important role in helping the Software Asset Management group (SAM) become a trusted partner in digital transformation by focusing on two key areas:
- Reduce licensing complexity by transferring ownership of the Effective Licensing Position (ELP) process back to Microsoft, helping to reduce the burden on our partners.
- Create a universal inventory standard for all partners and inventory tools.
Here, in our second IAM post, I’d like to take focus on the importance of reducing licensing complexity, explain how IAM accomplishes this goal, and elaborate on what that means for you and your customers.
Shifting our focus toward value
Over the years, Microsoft solutions have continued to evolve to support the complex business needs of a diverse customer base. As we’ve grown, licensing has become increasingly complex. Many now believe that the primary deliverable for a SAM engagement is an ELP document.
As a result, we have taken steps to centralize and simplify the ELP model, with Microsoft assuming responsibility for licensing. This change offers a couple of key benefits. First, it frees up partners to have more productive, solutions-oriented discussions vs. compliance-oriented discussions—which is what customers really want and need. Second, centralizing the ELP model enhances licensing consistency and transparency and instills greater customer confidence and trust.
What the ELP will look like going forward
By centralizing the ELP process, we’re in the unique position to increase transparency, drive greater consistency and automation, and provide a single source of truth.
Currently, only about 50 percent of the ELP creation process is black and white. The other half is more of an art, due to a number of factors—including evolving definitions and rules, customer scenarios, product changes, and so on. By centralizing this work and creating data points around documented decisions and precedents, we can gradually define the gray areas, increase the automation of ELPs, and improve outcome consistency.
Our ultimate goal is to make the ELP much easier to interpret—more like an electric bill—so that customers can see what they’re using, what’s changed from previous years, and the reason for those changes. Here’s how the process will work:
- Partner gathers and sends a customer’s normalized inventory data to Microsoft.
- Microsoft provides an ELP, communicating with the partner when questions come up.
- Partner uses the ELP to deliver value to the customer.
Hopefully this feels more straightforward and streamlined!
A new customer conversation
By reducing licensing complexity, we’re removing the resource strain on partners. Whereas your old conversations focused on understanding the customer’s current environment and ensuring licensing compliance, partners will now already know about that environment. This keeps the focus on insights to help your customers meet their business goals, and on what Microsoft brings to the table.
In this new conversation, partners will become trusted advisors, and the measurement of SAM engagements will become value and insight—not gap revenue.
What this change means for customers and partners
So, customers will have greater transparency, along with better understanding of their own environments, how Microsoft charges, and why. Of course, for partners, this means a new identity and business model. You’ll need to evolve from licensing businesses to value-delivery businesses. That means more time spent helping customers and bringing new ideas to the table.
Stay tuned for more information around IAM. We’ll release a third post in this series in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, we’d very much like to hear from our partners on this topic.
Please join the IAM discussion on the Microsoft Partner Community forum here.