As Microsoft partners look for their place in the cloud, the fanfare around Office 365 makes it seem the logical entry point. But competing in an already crowded field is risky for players late to the game. Many partners may be missing the relatively quiet call of the Internet of Things (IoT) as a strategic opportunity to stake a claim and build a practice.
Managed services providers (MSPs), in particular, have built their traditional business by providing services to monitor and optimize technical devices. Coordinating across software and hardware vendors, MSPs have a well-earned understanding of how to keep a network of disparate devices running smoothly. Since the foundation of the Azure IoT Suite is remote monitoring, the potential for MSPs to transfer skills is worth consideration. More
Posted by Barb Levisay on March 30, 2017 at 8:55 AM0 comments
Oh, for the days of simple answers to complex questions. With Microsoft's release of Teams this week, customers have yet another option to add to their confusion when it comes to choosing their best path to a collaborative workplace.
As the Office 365 collaboration toolset continues to expand -- Groups, Skype, Delve, Yammer and, now, Teams -- the challenge for partners to explain them all and how they fit together grows, as well. More
Posted by Barb Levisay on March 16, 2017 at 8:25 AM0 comments
For partners trying to keep up with the high-pressure, day-to-day obligations of running the business, the good intentions of giving back to their community too often go unrealized.
Putting intent into action takes commitment from individuals, as well as support from partner leadership. But when those ingredients come together, partners can have a real impact on the lives of those in need. More
Posted by Barb Levisay on March 09, 2017 at 8:05 AM0 comments
Following up on the popular Modern Partner Series, Microsoft has released four Cloud Practice Development Playbooks to guide partners as they expand their cloud practices.
On download, the sheer volume of the playbooks might make some partners think they are full of Microsoft fluff, but that is not the case. While they could be pared down to make them more consumable, the content is specific to each practice area and includes well-researched business advice and pertinent partner experiences. More
Posted by Barb Levisay on February 15, 2017 at 11:22 AM0 comments
In a State of the Channel update this week, Gavrielle Schuster, corporate vice president of the Worldwide Partner Group at Microsoft, announced that there are now more than 20,000 partners transacting through the Cloud Service Provider (CSP) program -- up from 3,500 a year ago.
That's got to be a sobering number for every cloud partner. As the field of competitors grows, the average partner with 20 to 90 employees needs a clear strategy to stand out from the crowd. More
Posted by Barb Levisay on December 08, 2016 at 7:27 AM0 comments
The traditional partner sales model has been turned upside down. In a world where technology is like electricity, sales opportunities won't continue to come in the form of implementations and upgrades.
Partners need to find new ways to identify and solve the business problems for their plugged-into-the-cloud customers. Consultants and engineers need to transition from technology fixers to business problem solvers -- and always be on the lookout for new problems to solve. More
Posted by Barb Levisay on October 12, 2016 at 1:29 PM0 comments
Every business today is accumulating massive amounts of unstructured data, from e-mails to documents to images. As the competition between Microsoft, Amazon and Google continues to drive down cost of data storage, it's tempting for those businesses to take a do-it-yourself approach.
But promises of easy administration that don't hold true provide an opportunity for partners to solve their customers' growing data management problems. More
Posted by Barb Levisay on October 05, 2016 at 8:47 AM0 comments
As more VARs, MSPs and SIs build their intellectual property and expand into the realm of ISV, they're seeing potential in working through partners to resell their solutions.
Building a channel, even if you only work with a handful of select partners, requires thought, planning and follow-through. Based on the experience of one ISV gaining momentum with Microsoft partners, a clear program with two-way expectations provides the foundation for strong channel partnerships. More
Posted by Barb Levisay on September 21, 2016 at 8:43 AM0 comments
Based on the record turnout and positive atmosphere of last month's Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), times are good for partners.
When partners talk about their challenges, hiring usually tops the list -- a good sign, but still a roadblock to continued growth. Interestingly, it seemed that more time was spent on the talent gap at past WPCs. Two years ago, there was a significant effort to focus attention on the potential of veterans to help. Which leads to the question: Is the channel overlooking a source of well-qualified candidates? More
Posted by Barb Levisay on August 17, 2016 at 9:00 AM0 comments
- See our full WPC 2016 coverage here.
Setting the tone for what may be a new generation of Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conferences (WPCs), Ariela Suster, founder of Sequence, opened last week's WPC with her powerful story of a childhood besieged by violence in El Salvador. With remarkable stage presence, Suster described her mission to make a difference in the lives of at-risk youth to break the cycle of crime and violence. The underlying message -- and recurring theme throughout the conference -- was that Microsoft enables people and partners to make a difference in the world.
With a new generation of entrepreneurs and workers looking for meaning in the work they do, Microsoft seemed to be phasing out the tech-talk to focus on partners as agents of change. Keynotes at past WPCs have always included heart-tugging videos with partners helping nonprofit organizations use technology to make a bigger impact, but at WPC 2016 last week, the theme of purpose was pervasive. More
Posted by Barb Levisay on July 18, 2016 at 1:03 PM0 comments
Two recent reports, taken together, provide valuable insight for those partners searching for their "angle" to focus their business and create packaged services.
A 2016 survey of CIOs confirmed the growing strategic role for IT leaders in their organizations. Those findings, combined with the latest release of the Modern Partner Series, which makes a strong case for packaged services, could guide partners as they choose where to specialize. More
Posted by Barb Levisay on June 22, 2016 at 10:51 AM0 comments
Last week's "Future of SharePoint" event held by Microsoft in San Francisco earned high praise from the SharePoint community. The importance of SharePoint in the Microsoft ecosystem was reconfirmed, which seemed to reignite energy in the SharePoint community.
To help those of us who don't live and breathe SharePoint understand the impact of the 2016 release on partners, I spoke to Naomi Moneypenny, chief technology officer at ManyWorlds Inc. More
Posted by Barb Levisay on May 11, 2016 at 2:01 PM0 comments