In a world where technology is constantly changing, where do you focus your time and energy to help customers maximize their revenue and growth? What do you prioritize as a business? In 2016, we commissioned a study by IDC to help guide partners in their prioritization. To build on this guidance, we asked key leaders from across the company to provide their perspective on the greatest opportunities they see for partners in 2017. We hope you find this information valuable in helping you realize your full potential as we kick off the year ahead!
Today most companies are also becoming a technology business. In fact, IDC reports that 70% of the top 500 global companies will have dedicated digital transformation and innovation teams by the end of 2017. From running eCommerce sites to apps or inventing entirely new revenue streams by digitizing products and processes–the new digital economy is changing the face of business. Cognitive services and artificial intelligence (AI) will become increasingly important with CEOs and business owners wanting to use digital transformation, machine learning and internet of things (IoT) to improve customer engagement, empower employees, optimize operations, and transform products. According to IDC, investment in digital transformation initiatives will reach $2.2 trillion by 2019 (almost 60% more than this year) and by 2018, 75% of developer teams will include cognitive and AI functionality in one or more applications.
Partners have an opportunity in 2017 to capitalize on this by bringing value-added services. Beyond helping customers, partners can transform their own businesses, shifting traditional business models from reselling or system integration to becoming more managed service providers or ISVs.
Are you still trying to do everything for everyone or have you identified what you’re good at? There are many ways to differentiate – it doesn’t always mean creating a unique app. With the technology advances driving digital transformation, industries are regularly being reinvented. However, transformation is not just limited to technology. Your processes, your vertical, your customer identity, your go-to-market model can all be differentiating factors – but to do that, you must know who you are at the core.
Differentiation is key to standing out in a competitive marketplace. Partners are differentiating their businesses by targeting verticals or industries, establishing a technology specialization and building intellectual property services. New intellectual property services are being created from advances in AI, bots, mixed reality and more. Keep learning, creating and finding new ways to differentiate yourself.
The number of partners actively involved with one another in a digital ecosystem is dramatically increasing. According to a report by Gartner entitled The 2017 CIO Agenda: Seize the Digital Ecosystem Opportunity, “Top-performing organizations have, on average, 78 partners in their digital ecosystems, up from 27 partners two years ago. These organizations expect to nearly double the number of these partners to 143 in the next two years. “
How you define your business, and who you choose to partner with, must evolve as more and more companies embrace digital transformation. Defining your unique core is critical to finding truly complementary partnerships, so look inward to figure out your secret sauce. Remember that it’s not about becoming a different partner – it’s about doing things differently.
A great example of this approach can be seen in Australia, in a partnership between Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) and HubOne. This partnership, enabled by our Cloud Solution Provider model, allows CA ANZ member practices to purchase a unique, integrated solution developed and deployed in conjunction with HubOne, an Australian ISV. This partnership enables a customized solution that joins together multiple offerings, deployed immediately and easily within a customer’s environment.
One of our CSP partners in the region, Rhipe, calls this opportunity the Internet of Partners – I call it a great way to build your business.
A new competitive reality has emerged around Application Innovation. Today’s enterprises are in the ‘experience’ business now and must find ways to deliver high-quality mobile experiences to their users at scale. Everyone wants immersive and personal experiences that react in real time, are intelligent and brilliantly predictive. How you help your customers meet the new user expectation for these rich application experiences is critical. To do this, enterprises need to leverage data and cloud in new ways. Taking their entire business ‘mobile’ often means building hundreds of apps. In fact, according to a Gartner report, “demand for mobile apps outstrips available development capacity, thus making quick creation of front-end client apps even more challenging.” Embracing an ‘app factory’ mindset and delivering continuous innovation at scale means tremendous opportunity for Microsoft partners.
With Visual Studio and Xamarin, your existing development teams become native mobile developers. With up to 90% code-sharing across device platforms and a complete mobile DevOps solution, you have the agility to build and maintain apps quickly and profitably. Every mobile app needs a secure backend. Azure makes this all easy to do, freeing your resources to focus on delivering your unique value.
Predictive analytics and Azure data services help you create intelligent apps which drive deeper engagement and in turn greater business results.
One of the biggest opportunities for partners in 2017 will be to deliver managed services that maximize their customers cloud experience. According to a study conducted by 451 research, managed services is projected to be a $43B market by CY2018, growing at a rate 60% faster than the growth in infrastructure only services. From consulting to migrations, to operations management, managed services provides you with an opportunity to add a new, higher margin business line that can provide a more stable, steady stream of recurring revenue.
At our Worldwide Partner Conference in 2015, we launched the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program specifically for partners looking to tap into this booming opportunity. By owning the customer relationship end to end it provides the perfect platform for partners to build value-added services for their customers that will create stickiness and differentiation from the competition. The program has become so popular that today, we have over 20,000 partners transacting through CSP.
Our research has shown that top performing cloud partners are leveraging the expertise of their technical staff to differentiate their business from the competition. How do they do it?
They invest deeply in building their teams’ technical skills. Whether it be through sending their technical teams to in-person training events and conferences or carving out time for their employees to engage in online learning, it’s clear that top performing partners are committed to prioritizing continuous learning. With a skilled team, partners can build new business opportunities using the latest technology innovations like Artificial Intelligence, Bots, and the Internet of Things. Browse our training options and learn cloud development on your terms.
They take an all hands-on deck approach to blogging. How best to help your business stand out than to have your cloud experts blog about the inspiring ways they have leveraged technology to meet their customer needs?
They get involved in the community. Customers are increasingly looking to online forums such as LinkedIn, Stack Overflow and GitHub to identify experts who can assist them with technology challenges and digital transformation.
To support you in your quest for increased profitability and growth, we have a number of tools, resources, and programs available to support you including the Microsoft Modern Partner ebook series as well as cloud development on-demand training.
Innovation, through cloud and related emerging technologies, is delivering new ways to expand economic opportunity and address some of humanity’s most pressing problems. In fact, the World Economic Forum references “ICT as the backbone” of the 4th industrial revolution in which Cloud is the engine and data is the fuel. In keeping with our empowerment mission, Microsoft is building tools and resources to support cloud for global good aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
There is no shortage of “impact” when partners leverage the cloud for global good. In Health, the Epimed ISV is partnering with 350 hospitals in Brazil using a mobile, Azure-based analytics solution and has reduced the rate of hospital-induced infections in Intensive Care Units by 20 percent.
In supporting the Sustainable Development Goal Decent Work and Economic Growth, we and our partner, Sparked, a Netherlands-based company driving digital transformation for the Municipality of Hollands Kroon, helped the municipality close its own data centers and adopt cloud solutions. They are using Azure and Office 365 to improve workplace and business transformation. But the cloud also raises important questions about privacy, safety, and jobs.
One of the greatest opportunities for partners in 2017 will be to promote positive change by ensuring that the benefits of cloud computing are broadly shared. I’d encourage our partners to familiarize themselves with two new tools: Cloud for Global Good and National Empowerment Plans. The Cloud for Global Good framework lists 78 policy recommendations designed to help government policymakers and industry establish the right environment for leveraging the power of the digital economy while minimizing its risks. The National Empowerment Plan provides a roadmap of technology solutions. Both are important resources as we prepare for the tremendous opportunities ahead.