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There are so many things to be inspired by and excited for in the year to come. Last week’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference was an amazing experience and I’m hearing that partners left Toronto energized to seize the opportunities ahead.

We heard from senior leaders including Satya Nadella and Brad Smith about the vision and strategy for Microsoft in the coming years, our engineering leaders about the innovations landing in the next 12 months, and from our commercial leaders including Steven Guggenheimer and Judson Althoff about the investments we’re making to help serve our customers and partners.

I was also thrilled to share some of the investments, enhancements, and prospects on the horizon for our Microsoft partners. From brand-new Gold partner branding to the $500B cloud opportunity ahead, it’s a great year to be a Microsoft partner.

In particular, I wanted to highlight three things coming in FY17 I’m looking forward to that will drive more opportunity for our partners throughout the year.

Digital transformation opportunity

At WPC, I shared the IDC estimate that by 2020, the greater cloud market will top $500 billion. That includes hardware, software, networking, and all the associated project and managed services our partners offer. But we estimate that’s just the start.

The $500B greater cloud market is a part of the IT market unlocked by Microsoft and our partners. Customers are looking to use technology outside the IT department to drive advances in productivity, collaboration, and decision making.

When you enable digital transformation across the business, not just in IT and operations, the market grows even more.

Customers are looking at technology to drive outcomes that will improve their business. They want to empower employees, engage customers, optimize operations, and transform products.

And Microsoft has a unique position to help you achieve those outcomes with your customers. At the intersection of each of our three bold ambitions you can unlock the power of the customer’s digital transformation. We are poised to enable these outcomes for our partners and our customers.

The customer's digital transformation

Enablement and training

One of our biggest focus areas in FY17 is helping partners meet the digital transformation demands of our shared customers. We know that customers don’t just buy a platform like Azure any more than they bought Windows Server just for the sake of having it – they buy a solution that solves a problem in their business. We want to help our partners develop those solutions.

We’re investing in partner profitability resources, digital training through Partner University, local learning events through Microsoft and our learning partners, Massive Open Online Courses on a wide variety of topics, and advisory hours to help partners win deals, accelerate deployment, and increase customer consumption of Microsoft services.

I’m especially excited about the new Microsoft Professional Degree program announced on day 3 of WPC. This enablement program, with training built on the Open edX on Azure platform, provides curriculum and hands-on experience for professionals to grow their skills in critical fields, with an initial focus on data sciences. The data sciences program opens soon, so learn more here.

MPN + Partner Center

Finally, I was able to demo a new capability available to our CSP partners using a new Software Development Toolkit to easily create their own customer-facing marketplace. This is just one of the amazing enhancements coming in FY17 to the Partner Center platform, which will soon simplify and consolidate the partner experience with Microsoft.

Imagine a single hub where our partners can manage all their transactions in their end-to-end relationships with Microsoft, with other partners, and with customers. That’s what we’re building with Partner Center.

This transactional hub will include onboarding, account management, referral management, benefits management, and business performance management. Partners will also be able to find customers and other partners, publish their own IP, certify their applications, process resell transactions, and manage customers.

And because this platform is built on the same underlying architecture as Microsoft’s other web and commerce properties, we will be able to seamlessly integrate partner solutions into a customer’s digital buying journey, and send leads from those customers right back to our partners.

Seize the opportunity in FY17

Helping partners succeed is my job. I am already anticipating the amazing work you’ll do with customers and with each other over the next year. If you aren’t sure where to start – reach out. My team and I are always ready to lend a hand.

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