I hope everyone at today’s Vision Keynote or watching the live stream enjoyed the experience as much as I did. It’s such an honor to speak to our partner community, to share your amazing successes, to discuss our investments and plans for the future, and to feel the energy and enthusiasm in the room. As I said this morning, we have the most powerful partner ecosystem in the industry, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Of course, to stay strong and continue moving forward takes work, and today I detailed some of the work we’re doing to support you and help you continue to thrive. I spoke this morning about investments we’re making to increase your market value, amplify your marketing impact, and grow your market influence. I’d like to take a moment to recap those points, and I invite you to continue the conversation with us and the partner community on our Facebook page.
Increase your market value
We know that the greatest asset of any company is its workforce. A well-trained, highly skilled, and nimble workforce is critical, especially in today’s fast-changing technology industry, and our old ways of training just aren’t keeping up. So this year, we’re streamlining and improving our training, certification, exam delivery, and performance tracking.
  1. Training. To improve your experience and provide training to you on your own terms, we’re consolidating all partner training into the Microsoft Virtual Academy and engaging students with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to provide hands on, experiential learning at scale.

  2. Certification. We know the current certification process is not agile enough for today’s pace of technology change, so we’re complementing certification with skills badging – a lightweight and low-friction way to encourage continuous learning through earlier, more reachable milestones.  We will be piloting in our first half and staging rollout in our second half of the year.

  3. Exams. To save you more time, we’re expanding availability of Online Proctored Exams so you no longer have to travel to a testing center.

  4. Tracking. We’ve heard from you that tracking unique MCPs by competency created a lot of unnecessary overhead. We agree so we are planning to eliminate this requirement in the fall and are turning our attention to performance outcomes instead. With the rich, detailed information provided on our new dashboards at the MPN portal, you can now track your progress and your customer’s consumption to easily determine where to focus your efforts.

  5. Activate. Finally, using our products within your own organization can help drive up your sales volume by up to 3 times so we are investing to help you easily migrate to O365 through our continued partnership with SkyKick and we are increasing the Azure Service credits and giving you access to Visual Studio Enterprise edition as part of your cloud competency IURs.
Amplify your market impact
In our evolving market, meeting the demands of a modern customer means effectively using digital marketing. We know that creating impactful marketing can be a challenge, especially for partners that have limited people and resources. We are taking action to help make it easier for you to find success by marketing a way that will work best for you with resources that we offer. We’ll do this in the following ways:
  1. Share best practices in digital marketing from some of our most successful cloud partners packaged into prescriptive guidance that helps you determine the right marketing tactics and materials based on where your company is at in its lifecycle and resource capacity.

  2. Offer a packaged set of digital marketing services through a program called Digital Stride, which helps you improve your online presence through search engine optimization, optimize your online presence and Pinpoint profile

  3. Offering you BING search credits to expand your search engine marketing
While we will continue to innovate on our own digital marketing with product, industry, vertical and audience based marketing to drive customer demand and air cover, we heard from you that navigating the complexity of how to participate was overwhelming.  To help you more easily participate in our customer campaigns we have selected a single, broad based customer campaign to go to market with our partners this year: “Modern Biz.” This single campaign is anchored on the four customer scenarios to show your customers how to grow their business and help you to maximize each socket that you sell and deploy.  Providing you with guidance on how to optimize your own partner profitability within those same customer scenarios.
As part of our own marketing efforts we are highlighting to our customers the impact that working with a partner can have on their business. To showcase this we recently introduced a new initiative: Partner Stories. These stories focus on the customers you help, their challenges, and the successes they achieve with your support. They celebrate your innovation and creativity, and your dedication to solving your customers’ problems.  We have published many new stories this week and have many more coming next year. We’re always looking for our next great story, so we encourage you to share yours with us in Connect.
Grow your market influence
Connecting with other partners can help you expand your reach, extend your services capability and build a channel within our Microsoft channel. We want to help you leverage each other so everyone can get to market faster, more efficiently, and more profitably. Some tools and resources I discussed today can make it easier for you to leverage the benefits of partnership:
  1. The dynamic sourcing solution from Dynasource will help you share talent. Get to 100% staff utilization by sharing temporarily “benched” employees.

  2. We’ve partnered with DevDraft to help you find talented developers who have the right skill set for your needs.

  3. Find other partners to partner with through Pinpoint.

  4. And of course, there are always the traditional partner community channels we sponsor for you to find partners with complementary business solutions, goals, and values: International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP), Women in Technology (WIT), the SMB PALs, ISV networking community, and more.
Working together can exponentially increase your business growth and success, so please take advantage of the online communities, and for those here at WPC, of this unique networking opportunity.
As I said today at the Vision Keynote, you – our partners – are the hero of our story, and we are committed to making it easier and more profitable for you to do business with us. Thank you for all you do!
Do you have additional feedback or comments? Let us know on our Facebook page!