Consulting: New Microsoft Services Chief Introduces Consulting Options
At last year's Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference
- By Scott Bekker
- August 30, 2007
Boston, Rick Devenuti, Microsoft's then-services chief, used his keynote
to clarify how Microsoft Consulting Services picked its customer engagements.
That effort went a long way toward reassuring consulting partners that
Microsoft had few intentions of stealing away their consulting work. But
things got muddy again when Devenuti, a senior vice president, retired
and was replaced in January by Corporate Vice President Maria Martinez.
Martinez, a communications industry veteran with prior experience at
Bell Laboratories, Motorola Inc. and Embrace Networks Inc., was most recently
corporate vice president for Microsoft's Communication Sector.
Martinez immediately vowed to maintain Devenuti's three-year plan and
general direction, which involved deploying Microsoft consultants to provide
"lighthouse" and "new- technology" engagements designed to create reference
implementations and intellectual property that partners could build upon.
At the same time, Devenuti had promised to try to limit "skin-in-the-game"
engagements, where customers wanted hand-holding from Microsoft, rather
than from capable partners, on their projects.
During her keynote at this year's WPC, Martinez reiterated her support
for the company's current direction. "Something that everybody asks me
first is, ‘What are you going to change, what are you going to do
different?'" she said. "After spending the first couple of months with
my leadership team, I became convinced that our mission is right on track,
that our high-level strategy certainly is the same one that I want to
continue to move forward, and I'm committed to the same three-year plan
that [the consulting group] put in place before I arrived."
Meanwhile, Martinez, in conjunction with the Enterprise Partner Group,
is solidifying how Microsoft defines those lighthouse and new-technology
engagements by organizing them into "service lines." Examples of service
lines include consulting that Microsoft provides around IT architecture
and planning and proactive work around keeping customers' IT infrastructure
healthy, Martinez said.
Services is formally reaching out to partners for advice
and help. At the 2006 Worldwide Partner Conference,
former Senior Vice President Rick Devenuti announced
plans to form a Partner Advisory Council (PAC) for partners
that interact with Microsoft Services and Microsoft
In her keynote this year, Corporate Vice
President Maria Martinez said that PAC is off and running.
"I met with them last night," she said
during her July keynote. "There are about 20 executives
from partners around the world, both small and large,
and with that partner community we really use that for
the key feedback for us to set the direction for our
business, to bounce some ideas off, and really to actually
validate the direction that we're going." -- S.B.
The company will gradually roll out service-line offerings over the next
two to three years.
"Our goal here is to engage in a few reference implementations, try
to create the delivery IP. Once we get those wins and that knowledge,
then [we'll] really proactively start focusing more in a systematic way
on transferring that IP to partners," she said. Once the market and ecosystem
have been "bootstrapped," the group will focus its resources on the next
emerging technologies, she said: "As we mature in this model, our goal
will be that we'll engage in these areas only when the technology is new
or when the customer is really requesting a direct involvement with us."
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.