Coping with Copilot

Earlier today, I received an e-mail from Microsoft Copilot. What grabbed me about the e-mail was not who it was from, but its subject line: "Built to do the impossible." When I opened the e-mail, the headline that jumped out at me was similarly bold: "A new AI era begins."

Wanting to learn more, I started surveying everything Microsoft has put online recently about Copilot. I was intrigued to find still more audacious claims, including:


Posted by Howard M. Cohen on June 20, 20240 comments

The Evolution of Channel Citizenship

Regular readers may remember that this column was called "The Changing Channel" until 2017 when it became apparent, at least to me, that the channel had changed, and many things would need to be redefined as the new generation of managed service providers (MSP) began to evolve.

One of those changes was in how MSPs would need to market themselves and their practices similarly to other professionals -- lawyers, accountants, architects, etc. After all, their businesses are now all about marketing and selling their own services to their customers rather than leading with the products as they had when they were resellers. Postcards, posts, fax blasts and highly-designed e-mails were all becoming things of the past. Networking, professional referrals, speaking engagements and other professional promotion processes will prevail.


Posted by Howard M. Cohen on April 25, 20240 comments

What's Going On at CompTIA?

Longtime readers of The Evolving MSP will remember that I spent considerable time (and love, blood, sweat and tears) with the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP). The IAMCP's biggest challenge was the fact that it's an all-volunteer organization; everybody there also had a full-time job in a company in our very, very busy channel.


Posted by Howard M. Cohen on March 25, 20240 comments

The Most Important Document for Partners To Read Now: CSF 2.0

Ask your customers this question: "What do you think it means that the National Institute for Standards & Technology (NIST) just expanded the scope of its Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) to go beyond 'critical infrastructure' to instead apply to all companies and organizations?"


Posted by Howard M. Cohen on March 04, 20240 comments

Post-$3 Trillion Market Cap, Where Do Partners Stand with Microsoft Now?

Change is the only constant. That quote is commonly attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus, but nowhere does it apply more completely than Microsoft. In the 43 years I've been involved with Microsoft, change has been nonstop -- sometimes blinding, often confounding, deeply frustrating and always challenging. But one thing has remained constant.

Jon Shirley, who assumed the mantle of Microsoft president in 1983 after being at Tandy for 25 years, was the first Microsoft executive -- but certainly not the last -- who ever said to me, "The most important thing to us is that you get the most out of your Microsoft relationship." Since then, I have had the same sentiment expressed to me by Steve Ballmer, Sam Jadallah, Allison Watson, Phil Sorgen, David Willis, Margo Day, Chris Capossela, Eric Martorano, Pam Salzer, Kati Quigley, Pattie Grimm, Gavriella Schuster, Rodney Clark and a host of Microsoft Partner Account Managers (PAMs). It is the one and only thing -- and perhaps the most important thing -- I can think of that has been constant throughout the past 40 years.


Posted by Howard M. Cohen on February 08, 20240 comments

Partners, AI and Plagiarism

We have all been here before. When we first saw "VisiCalc -- The Visible Calculator," it was revolutionary: a ledger page on the computer screen. However, most early users weren't exactly sure what it could be used for. When Intel introduced its "TeamStation," we were introduced to the amazing ability to see and speak with each other from our computers. Amazing, but, again, what would we use it for?


Posted by Howard M. Cohen on January 12, 20240 comments

MSP Marching Orders for 2024: Realize It's All About You

Have you read the recent article about how many billionaires the channel has created? It's a perfect distillation of the core skill that channel analysts, pundits and journalists use to remain in business: misdirection. Get people to look one way while the real action is happening in another. Properly practiced, it's an amazing skill. Items disappear and reappear elsewhere. Things that were torn to pieces are suddenly whole again.


Posted by Howard M. Cohen on January 09, 20240 comments

How Does Your Partner Practice Grow?

One of the most memorable quotes from legendary sales motivator Zig Ziglar is, "If you're doing what you've always done, you're probably getting what you've always gotten." But that's no longer true. Many channel resellers who continued to depend on product resale proved that to themselves very painfully. Each year, they were doing more than they had ever done and sold more products to more customers, but each year they actually got less than they had always gotten.


Posted by Howard M. Cohen on November 28, 20230 comments

Across Microsoft's Various Partner Program Changes, Nothing New Under the Sun

The first anniversary of the introduction of the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program (MCPP) replacing the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) will be on Oct. 3, 2023. This occasion brought me back to the first year of the introduction of the Microsoft Partner Network, which replaced the Microsoft Partner Program (MSPP) in 2009.


Posted by Howard M. Cohen on September 25, 20230 comments

AI and the Evolving MSP: The CrushBank Case Study

Here at The Evolving MSP, we’ve been strongly advocating for the partner community to explore new, out-of-the-box ways to survive in the post-volume sales era. For Microsoft partners, that inevitably means finding a place in Microsoft's generative AI vision, whether that's through AIOps, AI-powered development with Power Platform or something else.


Posted by Howard M. Cohen on August 30, 20230 comments

Filling in the Blanks of Microsoft's AI Guidance for Partners

Based on this year's Microsoft Inspire conference, it seems that a cycle of predictions that started a dozen years ago has finally realized its full fruition. Back then, in 2011, Product Manager Bill Patterson did something no one else had done: He launched the 2011 version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM in the cloud before it was distributed on media. As then-Global Channel Chief Phil Sorgen explained to me, "Microsoft only has one job and that is to provide a platform that partners can run their solutions on." This, of course, presupposed that partners had their own solutions.


Posted by Howard M. Cohen on August 01, 20230 comments

Power Platform as Survival Strategy for Microsoft Partners

There came a time when Microsoft and other channel partners realized their reseller business was going away. Cloud had burst onto the scene to intense, though mixed, reception. Resellers had serious concerns about security, privacy and reliability of cloud services, and they spared no effort making sure their customers were aware of this. After all, cloud replaced so much of what they were currently doing for those customers. It didn't really matter whether their concerns were well-founded or not, and many simply didn't make any effort to see for themselves.


Posted by Howard M. Cohen on June 26, 20230 comments