Distribution: Transaction Czar

"We took our eye off the ball a little bit on distribution," acknowledges Jenni Flinders, the new Global Business Leader for Microsoft's Transaction Channel Engine in the Worldwide Partner Group (WPG).

Specifically, as Microsoft Partner Program executives focused on the integration of Dynamics partners and solutions provider issues over the last few years, distribution partners found their interactions with Microsoft to be inconsistent across geographies and watched joint business planning drift.

But Flinders' newly created job, which combines responsibilities from the Enterprise Partner Group, the OEM Division and the WPG, indicates that Microsoft's now back on the ball. Redmond Channel Partner magazine Editor in Chief Scott Bekker spoke with Flinders at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference about how the changes that she's making are likely to filter through the partner ecosystem.

Photo: Biran SmaleQ: What are your big priorities for the upcoming year?

A: The first thing I want to make sure is that we get really, really locked down around business planning with our partners. I don't think we've done business planning well at all. It's making sure I put the right resources out in the field [to drive] deeper engagements with our channel partners. I'm hiring "role leaders" in my team that will be responsible for driving role excellence in our partner account manager community. Just with that, our partners will feel an impact in terms of the level of engagement they're going to have. There will be role leaders for distributors, LARs and resellers.

Q: Why is it important to the entire channel for Microsoft to get the distribution relationship right?

A: We're looking at how we actually take our distributor partners and leverage them as a significant resource to help us reach our breadth partners. Distributors collectively last year helped us transact with 300,000 unique partners. We don't have the capacity or the bandwidth to reach that broadly. So distributors are just absolutely key strategic partners in our ecosystem.

Q: Will solutions providers see any changes in the next year based on the fact that you've got this new role in the transactional engine?

A: I think they'll be able to see improvements in clarity around messaging. If you build a deep enough business plan with your partners, and you're able to identify the opportunities, you should be able to see them mesh those two messages well together.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.