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

For Proactive MSPs, Expansion Is the Key

One thing you can be certain that every MSP wants to do is to grow their practice. There are really only two ways to go about that: One is to go out and create new customers, and the other is to sell more to existing customers. That's it.

You're probably thinking about the countless times you've heard, "It's five times easier to sell more to an existing customer than it is to create a new one." That's true, but have you ever thought about why? You already know your existing customer, and they know you. They trust you and they respect your opinion so that they'll consider anything you suggest. This cuts the entire front end of the sales cycle, the part that typically takes the longest. You've already pursued the account, made them aware of you, encouraged them to consider meeting you, penetrated the account, qualified them and proven your value. Sales cycle slashed!


Posted by Howard M. Cohen on May 22, 20230 comments

AIOps Key to MSP Survival in the AI Revolution

P.E.B.K.A.C. If you're not familiar with this acronym, it refers to the part of the network that network engineers say is the hardest for them to manage: the user. Also known as "The Part Existing Between the Keyboard And the Chair." The user is considered hardest to manage because they're human. Unlike digital devices, they don't respond the same way to the same instruction given repeatedly. They have good and bad moods. They become distracted. They make mistakes. They are, simply, unpredictable. That's tough to manage.


Posted by Howard M. Cohen on April 27, 20230 comments

The 'Influencer MSP' Approach to New Products

Smart MSPs no longer focus on promoting the sale of any specific product. In fact, some have abandoned product sales altogether, preferring to partner with someone to procure and provide products when needed. What they really need to do, however, is change the way they look at new product introductions. 


Posted by Howard M. Cohen on April 17, 20230 comments

What the Channel Tea Leaves Say: The Era of Volume Sales Is Over

Let's read some tea leaves together, shall we? We're seeing sizable force reductions at many of our favorite partners' companies. We didn't really expect them, but still we don't really find ourselves surprised.

We also see very talented people in our channel suddenly seeking new opportunities. Some are high-ranking executives, but many are simply superb engineers and technologists. And some of those executives are superstar heroes of the channel. We wonder why anyone would ever let them leave.


Posted by Howard M. Cohen on February 21, 20230 comments