Microsoft To Streamline MPN Competencies

Microsoft on Tuesday announced a major, cloud-oriented streamlining of the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) competencies that it uses to identify and validate the expertise of its partners.

Over the next 18 months, the MPN will go from having 29 distinct competencies to having 17, said Gavriella Schuster, the general manager of Worldwide Partner Programs at Microsoft, in a telephone interview.

"We're realigning our competencies so they meet the needs of our customers. More than 80 percent of our customers are actually employing or embracing cloud technology today," Schuster said. "When we did our customer research [on competencies, there were] too many. The [17] are grouped into six key areas that are very consistent -- productivity, intelligent cloud, data platform and analytics, mobility, Dynamics applications, and application development."

The moves follow Microsoft's introduction of and emphasis on a handful of cloud competencies over the last two years. All of those competencies, such as Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions, Cloud Productivity, Cloud Platform, Cloud Customer Relationship Management and Enterprise Mobility Management, will survive the competency culling.

Competencies that are going away include:

  • Customer Relationship Management
  • Devices and Deployment
  • Digital Advertising
  • Distributor
  • Hosting
  • Identity and Access
  • Intelligent Systems
  • Learning
  • Midmarket Solutions Provider
  • OEM
  • Software Asset Management
  • Volume Licensing

A blog post provided some new MPN resources, such as an Interactive MPN Evolution Guide and an MPN Evolution page, that are designed to provide paths and options from retiring competencies to ongoing ones.

Schuster provided a few examples of the way competencies will be merged. "We introduced the CRM Online competency over a year ago, but we still have a CRM competency. So it's confusing for our customers when they come to find a partner who is delivering the services. What we want to do is shift those partners into the CRM Online competency to eliminate the confusion," she said.

Other examples include partners in the Devices and Deployment competency, which will funnel into a Windows and Devices Competency that is launching next week; and Identity and Access competency partners, who will be steered toward the Enterprise Mobility Management competency.

Partners who don't currently have the retiring competencies will still be able to sign up for them until July 30. Partners who already have the retiring competencies can renew their competencies until Oct. 30. The competencies will be completely retired on Jan. 31, 2018.

Other aspects of the MPN competency system remain intact, such as the gold and silver competency levels and the competency pricing, Schuster said.

About the Author

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