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Marching Orders: Let's Make 2020 the Year of Diversity, Collaboration and Transformation

As we're well into the first quarter of 2020, I see four big trend-related opportunities for Microsoft partners this year.

Having been around this ecosystem for quite some time, I'm noticing that we are finally seeing great progress in embracing diversity.

Multiple networks for women in our ecosystem are doing great work, such as The WIT Network, Women In Cloud, International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners Diversity & Inclusion and a few more. The groups are expanding rapidly across the United States and abroad.

These networks are being run by enthusiastic and professional leaders, and their meetings are attracting a lot of people and clearly making an impact.

They get great support from Microsoft leaders, including One Commercial Partner (OCP) Corporate Vice President Gavriella Schuster, OCP Vice President for Go-To-Market Strategy Gretchen O'Hara and CEO Satya Nadella, who has made it a priority two years in a row to attend the annual WIT luncheon at the Microsoft Inspire conference.

There are many signs that this is a growing movement and something that is bringing real change to our ecosystem, so let's all help make it happen.

Why am I bringing this up? One reason is that it is great for businesses to encourage diversity. Our customers are diverse and in order to understand them better, it makes sense that your own organization is also diverse. A diverse culture gives you better insights, more solutions and more success.

Endorsing diversity also widens the talent pool, and with an open mindset in which you endorse diversity, you will more likely be able to find the skilled people that you need in order to compete successfully. I believe that you limit yourself if you only try to recruit people that are just like yourself.

The last reason is that it is just silly and wrong to discriminate -- and if we want the world to become a better place, we should give equal opportunities regardless of gender, age, faith, culture, sexual orientation, etc.

Another trend that I see for 2020 is that Microsoft Teams is continuing to gain momentum. When more people are well-informed and feel included, your teams will perform better. The market for Teams is growing rapidly, but the competition is advancing quickly, too. Partners will need to find ways to capture their IP, package it and resell it at scale in order to be competitive.

Thanks to the new Microsoft Graph APIs, partners will be able to make better integrations with Teams. Partners who bring their ISV solutions to Teams and make Teams the first choice for where to enjoy their solutions will become successful. I believe that it will be important to treat Teams as the primary application and as the place where people consume your solution. Weak integrations that take users outside of Teams will feel a bit dated.

The trend with P2P, or partner-to-partner, is enjoying tremendous success as a great path for higher margins, higher growth and better valuations, and we will continue to see partners becoming better at this. There are so many reasons why P2P makes sense and everyone knows that this is a true passion for me.  

Virtual hoster is a concept that I started to talk about this past fall. It helps partners to understand how they can become successful in hosting without operating datacenters and instead focus on managing resources. By becoming asset-light, partners can focus on what they're great at and leave the actual hosting to Microsoft. It is early days for virtual hosters! We will most likely see a number of legacy hosters transforming their businesses, as well as welcoming new entrants in this arena. The bar for entry has now been lowered and there is lot of money to be made as a Virtual Hoster when you do it right.

Some of the paths to success in 2020 run through diversity, Teams, P2P and virtual hosting.

Per Werngren is an RCP contributor who has held many roles at the worldwide level of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP), including chairman and president.

Posted by Per Werngren on February 20, 2020