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Marching Orders 2017: 'P2P as a Practice' Is the New Black

What should you do to make the most of technology business opportunities in 2017? For this "Marching Orders" series, we put that question to a number of channel luminaries, including top Microsoft channel executives, consultants, Microsoft partners and other regular RCP contributors. This entry comes from Per Werngren, chairman of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP).

Remember a few years ago when Microsoft partner account managers or PAMs (now called partner sales executives or PSEs) asked partners to sign up for new competencies? If you tried to resist, you often had a problem convincing your PAM to agree.

But times have changed. We see that the most successful partners are the ones that specialize in doing only a few things -- and doing them well. Less is more!

The "jack of all trades" era is over, and by specializing and being great at something -- rather than mediocre in everything -- you will see your margin go up and your market share increase. It will also make it easier to recruit because if you're running the best team in your area, you can be pretty sure that the best people will want to play for you.

We see a wave of consolidation in our industry and I foresee that this will continue. Buyers are eager to pay top dollar for great companies that are successful and well-known for their specialization. Generalists are not what they are looking for unless you have massive scale, but that's an exception reserved for only a very few.

This is clearly reflected in valuations. Having sold my specialized cloud hosting company this year, and having seen several of my good friends doing the same, I speak from experience.

Here's where "Partner-to-Partner (P2P) as a Practice" is needed. If you want to serve your customers well but still be specialized, then you will see that by working with trusted partners you will be able to increase your profits and keep your customers even happier. You will be part of a team of specialized companies catering to your customers' needs and that will ensure that you can keep your narrow specialization but also be part of delivering projects with a much wider scope.

P2P as a Practice is clearly in fashion as more and more partners realize that it makes great business sense for many reasons. Microsoft is embracing P2P as Practice, PSEs are helping partners specialize, and the IAMCP is educating and connecting partners.

A few years ago I worked with IDC to create the "P2P Maturity Model" (PDF here) as a framework for structuring P2P activities. Stay tuned to RCP in 2017 as I share insights about that framework and other tips for driving success in your P2P activities.

Posted on December 27, 2016 at 7:40 AM