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Postscript: Knowledge is Power, Chapter 2

RCP updates its partner-oriented list of major players at Microsoft, adding some must-know names for uncertain times.

At Microsoft, as at most other major organizations, change has been the only constant over the past year-plus.

So it's no surprise that since Redmond Channel Partner published its picks for the 23 Microsoft executives who matter most to partners ("Knowledge Is Power," December 2007), several key players on our list have moved on, moved up or otherwise changed roles, and we've added a few others who have gained new prominence. Here's an update.

Transition Near the Top
The ink was barely dry on our issue containing our first list when news broke about the first big shift: Microsoft announced that Microsoft Business Division President Jeff Raikes -- a top leader in Redmond and on our list -- planned to retire late in 2008, ending a 26-year career in Redmond. Microsoft newcomer Stephen Elop, former chief operating officer of Juniper Networks Inc., replaced Raikes.

In that same business area, Dave Willis became vice president for U.S. Dynamics in October, replacing Craig McCollum, who left the company. Willis made our initial list for his role as vice president of the East Region of Microsoft's U.S. Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners (SMS&P) Group, overseeing activity in about 20 eastern and southern states.

Steve Guggenheimer
New to RCP's
"must-know" list of Microsoft execs:

Steve Guggenheimer, Corporate
Vice President,
Original Equipment Manufacturer Division

Partner Program Moves
Margo Day, whom we recognized for her role as Willis's counterpart in Microsoft's 13-state West Region, was covering both regions at the end of 2008 as Microsoft sought a replacement for Willis.

Meanwhile, in the fast-growing U.S. Partner Group, two Microsoft veterans -- both on our initial list, but with different titles -- became even more important to partners in new jobs announced at the 2008 Worldwide Partner Conference. Robert DeShaies, previously the U.S. group's overall vice president, picked up a more focused title: vice president for U.S. partner business development and sales, working primarily with nationally managed partners. Meanwhile, Cindy Bates, previously general manager of SMS&P's U.S. Small Business Group, moved up to vice president of partner strategy and programs, focusing on efforts to drive profitability and work with newer, less traditional partners.

Same Names, Different Titles
Two other players on RCP's initial list have since received new titles. Eric Ligman, formerly U.S. senior manager for small business community engagement, became global partner experience lead in the Worldwide Partner Group. His Web site describes that role as leading "relationship and experience strategy for our non-managed partners around the world" and helping increase those partners' satisfaction with Microsoft.

On the services side, Ron Markezich, previously Microsoft's vice president of managed services, became corporate vice president of Microsoft Online. In that role, Markezich -- also Microsoft's former chief information officer -- is responsible for growing Microsoft's online service-delivery business.

Players to Watch
Besides Elop, there are three other newcomers to RCP's must-know Microsoft executives list:

  • Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Original Equipment Manufacturer Division, who oversees management of Microsoft's all-important relationships with the manufacturers of computers, systems and other devices. He took the job in March that had been vacated by Scott Di Valerio. The job is especially important to partners in two ways. One is that Guggenheimer helps manage the readiness of huge OEM partners like Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. as Microsoft prepares Windows 7 for release. The other is that Guggenheimer interacts with 15,000 to 20,000 system-builder partners directly. We recommend keeping an eye on his group's activities in the months ahead.
  • Brian Madison, general manager of Microsoft Financing, oversees Microsoft's customer-financing offerings -- which, in these days of ever-tighter IT budgets, can make the difference between a done deal and one that's postponed or cancelled. You may never meet Madison personally, but you should certainly get to know his organization, a wholly owned Microsoft subsidiary that's been running specials such as a current 0 percent financing offer for creditworthy new Dynamics customers.

Just before this issue went to press, Bob Muglia was named president of the company's Server and Tools Business (STB). Muglia, a 21-year Microsoft veteran, was previously senior vice president of that group, which is responsible for Microsoft Windows Server, SQL Server, Visual Studio, the Forefront security line, System Center solutions and virtualization products, among others. In announcing Muglia's promotion, Microsoft said that the STB group now generates about $13 billion in annual revenues, "making it a major driver of Microsoft's growth and profitability." That means the group is a major driver of partner opportunity as well, and because Muglia helped build the group and now leads it, he's obviously earned a spot on RCP's "must-know" list.

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