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Lots of Changes Coming to MPN Competencies in November

In a few months, Microsoft will make the most significant changes yet to its Microsoft Partner Network competency structure. Microsoft is consolidating six competencies into two, and redirecting two other competencies. Here are the changes, announced during the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, that will take effect in November:

App Dev Consolidation
The MPN is merging three competencies -- ISV, Software Development and Web Development -- into one competency called Application Development. Microsoft plans to grandfather all partners in the existing competencies into the new competency automatically in November. In another move intended for development-focused partners, Microsoft is expanding the number of competencies with integrated application tracks.

SharePoint Shakeup
As one of Microsoft's most strategic and wide-reaching products, SharePoint had a stake in four different Microsoft competencies. The company is trying to simplify the MPN competency structure around SharePoint at the end of this year.

Three of the competencies -- Portals and Collaboration, Content Management, and Search -- will merge into a new competency called Collaboration and Content. In a blog post during WPC, MPN General Manager Julie Bennani said the merger reflects "that customers increasingly want an end-to-end solution for finding, sharing, managing, and collaborating on content, not separate solutions." She also said the consolidation will make it easier and more cost effective for SharePoint partners to engage with Microsoft.

A fourth SharePoint competency is Digital Marketing, which was focused on partners providing SharePoint-based Web sites to customers. Microsoft plans to broaden the focus beyond SharePoint to capture a larger opportunity.

"Customers are looking for partners that can create compelling end-to-end online experiences integrating their marketing campaigns across display and search advertising, on the fly, with demonstrable ROI. Our technology portfolio has evolved to support that broader definition and need so we are revamping this competency to include our Bing advertising tools and assets," Bennani's blog noted.

Digital Marketing competency partners will now also get Bing advertising credits ($2,000 for gold and $1,500 for silver.) Partners in the new Application Development competency will get credits in the same amounts, and Small Business competency partners will get Bing credits worth $1,500 for gold and $1,000 for silver.

Desktop Gets BYOD'd
In a nod to the consumerization of IT trend, Microsoft is also renaming the Desktop competency. It will now be called Devices and Deployment, and Bennani described the aim as to "recognize and reward partners who help customers select, configure, and manage a range of secure, productive devices."

Also in November, Microsoft plans to hike the gold competency membership fee by an amount that hasn't been disclosed yet.

Posted by Scott Bekker on August 13, 2012