Channel Watch

Some Partners Get the White-Glove Treatment

Microsoft executives know the switch to the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) is delicate. Partners are used to the way things were, and many aren't sure how they'll fit into the overhauled MPN, which went fully into effect on Nov. 1. In an effort to make the transition smoother, Microsoft is giving some partners what it calls the "white-glove" treatment.

"We've spent a lot of time with what we call our white-glove process, where we are [phoning] our Gold Certified and Certified and Small Business Specialist Partners today to walk them through the changes and just make sure that they get a voice," says Julie

Bennani, general manager of the MPN. "Even if they don't have a PAM or a TPAM, someone from Microsoft who is very informed about the network [will] walk them through their specific scenario and help them build a plan on what they want to do."

The process started at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), where about 1,000 partner companies went through the process in July. That's pretty good for a week, although Microsoft has about 35,000 partners at the old Gold Certified Partner and Certified Partner levels, and the SBS Community is about 20,000-strong, so the company has a long way to go.

If you meet the criteria but haven't gotten a call yet, it could be because Microsoft is concentrating on anniversary dates. Those whose renewal dates come up before the end of the calendar year are getting the first calls.

A picture of how Microsoft partners reacted to the MPN changes will start to become clear toward the end of the first quarter of 2011, when most partners complete their renewals. "Today there's about 430,000 unique organizations in the network. We hope there's more than that tomorrow. Where they are, and the way they communicate and surface will be different," Bennani says.

She does anticipate the current 50/50 split of Gold Certified versus Certified Partners will skew toward a lower percentage of partners with Gold competencies than Silver competencies.

Bennani also expects many partners will achieve fewer Gold competencies than the number of competencies they carried as Gold Certified Partners.

On the Dynamics side, partner executives feel even more strongly that there are too many Gold Certified companies. "We get the feedback from prospects that it was really hard to tell who was really good at what," says Jeff Edwards, director of Microsoft Dynamics Partner Strategy. The Dynamics organization is expecting the 70/30 ratio of Gold Certified/Certified Dynamics partners to flip to about 20/80 Gold versus Silver, Edwards says.

Given those dramatic, and potentially traumatic, changes, a little white-gloved handholding is probably a good idea. If you got the white-glove treatment, let me know how it went at sbekker@rcpmag.com.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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