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What the Partner Awards Reveal About Microsoft's Priorities

Microsoft announced its Partner of the Year awards this month, and like every year, the structure and categories tell a lot about Redmond's priorities.

Microsoft has always used the worldwide partner awards to emphasize partner success in strategic growth areas or key competitive areas, and to reinforce to the channel what business areas will be most important in the coming fiscal year. Microsoft announces its winners in June and formally gives them out at its Inspire partner conference in July, which aligns roughly with the start of the company's fiscal year.

Here are six takeaways from a review of the 41 categories.

Digital Transformation
How big a deal is this "digital transformation" concept to Microsoft? Pretty big. First of all, there's a Digital Transformation Partner of the Year category. Kudos to Accenture for winning that one, although it's odd that there are no finalists. That suggests Microsoft may be struggling to get partners to join the Digital Transformation parade in a meaningful way.

Meanwhile, the phrase "digital transformation" has attained buzzword status in the winner descriptions. In the 30-page PDF featuring short descriptions of each of the 2019 winners, the phrase "digital transformation" appears 66 times. Compare that against the 52 appearances of the phrase "artificial intelligence" or "AI," and you get a sense of how important this digital transformation idea is to Microsoft.

Consistent Structure
Microsoft grouped its solution-focused awards this year into four main areas. They are Azure (Intelligent Cloud) Awards, Business Application Awards, Modern Workplace Awards and Other Awards. (Non-solution groupings are Industry Awards and Country Awards.) What's interesting is that those groupings are relatively consistent with the big partner classifications set in the major field and channel shakeup of 2017. At the time, Microsoft created four major buckets for partners: Modern Workplace, Business Applications, Applications & Infrastructure, and Data & Artificial Intelligence. Two of those remain in the awards structure, Modern Workplace and Business Applications. The other two are largely combined into Azure (Intelligent Cloud).

Datacenter Migration
There's not much in the way of on-premises-based awards. The closest are the ones that involve getting customers the heck off on-premises. Two of those awards are in the "Azure (Intelligent Cloud) Awards" area. There is the straight "Datacenter Migration" category, won by Microsoft awards veteran 10th Magnitude, a pioneer in Azure business practices.

Then there's the related "Data Estate Modernization" category, won by Cognizant Technology Solutions. Note also the "Indirect Provider Partner of the Year" winner, Arrow ECS. One of that company's major pushes is datacenter retirements paired with moves to Azure. Expect an ever louder drumbeat about datacenter migration to Azure as end-of-life approaches for Windows Server 2008 R2 on Jan. 14, 2020.

Business Applications
Evident in the business applications categories is the shift away from emphasis on terms like ERP and CRM and toward Dynamics 365 and elements of the platform underlying Dynamics 365. These categories reflect changes going on with the business applications competencies, as well.

Industry Verticals
The mix of industry verticals Microsoft appears most interested in has evolved slightly, but is still relatively consistent with the verticals Microsoft declared as strategic in the 2017 overhaul. At the time, it was manufacturing, financial services, retail, health, education and government. Those verticals continue to be reflected and rewarded in the current awards list, although the manufacturing category is "Manufacturing and Resources." Additional vertical awards for 2019 are automotive, media & communications and Microsoft CityNext.

SAP on Azure
One other awards category of interest is the SAP on Azure Partner of the Year, won by Capgemini. SAP on Azure is an advanced specialization within the Cloud Platform competency. In addition to the strategic importance to Microsoft of drawing SAP implementations to the Azure cloud, it's also a hint of things coming for partners. In the next fiscal year, Microsoft will be expanding its advanced specializations for partners to include Azure Stack, server migration, security and teamwork.

Trends and priorities aside, congratulations to the 2019 partner winners. See the full list below.

Azure (Intelligent Cloud) Awards
AI and Machine Learning Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Crayon Group
  • Finalist: AgileThought
  • Finalist: eSmart Systems
  • Finalist: Modis

Application Innovation Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Wapice Ltd.
  • Finalist: Infosys Ltd. 
  • Finalist: Wragby Business Solutions and Technologies Ltd.
  • Finalist: Zure

Azure Influencer Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Hanu
  • Finalist: Navisite
  • Finalist: SELA
  • Finalist: Sol-Tec Ltd.

Data Analytics Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Modis
  • Finalist: Cognizant Technology Solutions
  • Finalist: Pragmatic Works

Data Estate Modernization Partner of the Year

Datacenter Migration Partner of the Year

DevOps Partner of the Year

  • Winner: 10th Magnitude
  • Finalist: Dimensional Strategies Inc.
  • Finalist: InCycle Software

Internet of Things Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Accenture/Avanade
  • Finalist: PTC
  • Finalist: SoftBank Technology
  • Finalist: Telelink Business Services

Mixed Reality Partner of the Year

  • Winner: PTC 
  • Finalist: Bentley Systems 
  • Finalist: Kognitiv Spark 
  • Finalist: Meemim Inc.

OSS on Azure Partner of the Year

  • Winner: HashiCorp 
  • Finalist: SNP Technologies Inc.

SAP on Azure Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Capgemini
  • Finalist: DXC Technology 
  • Finalist: T-Systems

Business Applications Awards
Dynamics 365 for Business Central Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Bam Boom Cloud
  • Finalist: Bond Consulting Services
  • Finalist: NAB Solutions AB
  • Finalist: Wiise

Dynamics 365 for Customer Service Partner of the Year

  • Winner: PowerObjects, an HCL Technologies Company
  • Finalist: Cognizant Technologies
  • Finalist: DXC Technology
  • Finalist: Hitachi Solutions Philippines Corporation

Dynamics 365 for Field Service Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Hitachi Solutions
  • Finalist: eCraft Oy Ab
  • Finalist: HSO International
  • Finalist: Velrada

Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations Partner of the Year

Dynamics 365 for Sales Partner of the Year

  • Winner: SAGlobal
  • Finalist: Experlogix
  • Finalist: KPMG Advisory
  • Finalist: MASAO

Dynamics 365 for Talent Partner of the Year

Power BI Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Nihilent
  • Finalist: Campus Management
  • Finalist: Catapult Systems
  • Finalist: Expose Data

PowerApps Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Catapult Systems
  • Finalist: C Centric Solutions
  • Finalist: Mercury xRM Limited
  • Finalist: PowerObjects, an HCL Technologies Company

Industry Awards
Automotive Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Annata
  • Finalist: 4ward
  • Finalist: Bright Box
  • Finalist: Icertis Inc.

Education Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Edsby
  • Finalist: Blackbaud
  • Finalist: Insight

Financial Services Partner of the Year

  • Winner: PowerObjects, an HCL Technologies Company
  • Finalist: AKA Enterprise Solutions
  • Finalist: Finastra

Government Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Hitachi Solutions
  • Finalist: KPMG
  • Finalist: Planet Technologies 
  • Finalist: RapidDeploy

Health Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Health Catalyst
  • Finalist: KenSci
  • Finalist: Mozzaz Corporation
  • Finalist: Quest Software

Manufacturing and Resources Partner of the Year

  • Winner: PTC
  • Finalist: ABB Asea Brown Boveri Ltd.
  • Finalist: Hitachi Solutions
  • Finalist: ICONICS

Media & Communications Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Aprimo
  • Finalist: AdPushup Inc.
  • Finalist: SAGlobal
  • Finalist: Tech Mahindra

Microsoft CityNext Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Bentley Systems
  • Finalist: ABB Asea Brown Boveri Ltd.
  • Finalist: KPMG Adoxio
  • Finalist: Meemim Inc.

Retail Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Obase
  • Finalist: Brainpad Inc.
  • Finalist: HSO
  • Finalist: JDA Software

Modern Workplace Awards
Intelligent Communications Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Arkadin
  • Finalist: CDW LLC
  • Finalist: NBConsult
  • Finalist: Tata Communications

Modern Desktop Partner of the Year

Modern Workplace Transformation Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Phoenix Software
  • Finalist: Accenture/Avanade
  • Finalist: Content and Code
  • Finalist: DXC Technology

Project and Portfolio Management Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Wicresoft
  • Finalist: Innovative-e
  • Finalist: ProActive A/S
  • Finalist: Sensei Project Solutions

Security and Compliance Partner of the Year

  • Winner: InSpark
  • Finalist: Edgile
  • Finalist: Maureen Data Systems Inc.
  • Finalist: Onevinn

Teamwork Partner of the Year

Other Awards
Digital Transformation Partner of the Year

Learning Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Global Knowledge
  • Finalist: QA
  • Finalist: Shanghai Yungoal Info Tech Co. Ltd.

Partner for Social Impact Partner of the Year

Alliance Global ISV Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Finastra
  • Finalist: Cloudera
  • Finalist: Icertis Inc.
  • Finalist: Sitecore

Alliance Global SI Partner of the Year

Customer Experience Partner of the Year

Diveristy and Inclusion Changemaker Partner of the Year

Indirect Provider Partner of the Year

  • Winner: Arrow ECS
  • Finalist: Crayon Software Experts Spain S.L.
  • Finalist: Ingram Micro Mexico
  • Finalist: rhipe

Country Awards
Argentina: VU Security
Armenia: Dom-Daniel
Australia: Modis
Austria: ITSDONE Holding GmbH
Azerbaijan: SMART business
Bahrain: Almoayyed Computers
Bangladesh: Corporate Projukti Limited
Belgium: Proximus
Bermuda: Maureen Data Systems Inc.
Bolivia: SoftwareONE Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Logosoft d.o.o.
Brazil: Brasoftware
Brunei: Tech One Solutions Sdn Bhd
Canada: Long View
Cayman Islands: Kirk Office Equipment Ltd.
Chile: GeoVictoria
China: SYSTEX China Ltd.
Colombia: Westcon Group Colombia Limitada
Costa Rica: ITCO
Côte d'Ivoire: INOVA Consulting Services
Croatia: Hrvatski Telekom d.d.
Curaçao: Inova Solutions
Cyprus: Developments Ltd.
Czech Republic: Unicorn Systems
Dominican Republic: C-ven Technologies
Egypt: HITS Technologies
El Salvador: GBM de El Salvador
Estonia: TVG Eesti, OÜ
Finland: Nordcloud
France: Talentsoft
Georgia: UGT Ltd.
Germany: Joint Entry: PHAT CONSULTING GmbH, Glück & Kanja Consulting AG and GAB Enterprise IT Solutions GmbH
Guatemala: Gensa Group
Honduras: Sega
Hong Kong SAR: KBQuest Hong Kong Limited
Hungary: T-Systems Magyarorszag Zrt.
Iceland: Advania
India: G7 CR Technologies India Pvt. Ltd.
Indonesia: PT Awan Integrasi Sandidata (ViBiCloud)
Ireland: Spanish Point Technologies
Israel: U-BTech Solutions
Italy: Var Group Spa
Jamaica: Inova Solutions
Japan: Fujitsu Ltd.
Jordan: Optimiza
Kazakhstan: M-SYSTEM LLP
Kenya: Cloud Productivity Solutions Limited
Korea: Zenith & Company Co., Ltd.
Kyrgyzstan: ALBARS
Latvia: Tilde Sia
Lebanon: Exquitech
Lithuania: Fortevento
Luxembourg: Devoteam S.A.
Malaysia: Rhipe Malaysia Sdn Bhd
Malta: ICT Solutions
Mexico: Ingram Micro Mexico
Mongolia: Mogul Service and Support LLC
Morocco: CASANET
Namibia: Salt Essential IT
Nepal: Tech One Global Nepal Pvt. Ltd.
Netherlands: ICT Automatisering NV
New Zealand: Umbrellar Limited
Nicaragua: Sega
Pakistan: Maison Consulting & Solutions
Panama: GBM Dominicana
Paraguay: OLAM S.R.L.
Peru: G&S Gestión y Sistemas SAC
Philippines: Crayon Software Experts Philippines Inc.
Poland: Synerise S.A.
Portugal: InnoWave Technologies S.A.
Puerto Rico: Nagnoi LLC
Qatar: Information & Communication Technology W.L.L
Romania: Asseco SEE
Russia: Awara IT
Saudi Arabia: eSense Software
Serbia: Comtrade System Integration d.o.o.
Singapore: Ingram Micro Asia Ltd.
Slovakia: exe, a.s.
Slovenia: Adacta
South Africa: Mint Management Technologies
Spain: CAPSiDE
Sri Lanka: Tech One Global
Sweden: Acando AB
Switzerland: isolutions AG
Taiwan: Systex Software & Service Corporation
Thailand: MFEC Public Company Limited
Trinidad and Tobago: Davyn
Tunisia: Neoledge
Turkey: motiwe
Uganda: Britehouse/Dimension Data
Ukraine: Infopulse LLC
United Arab Emirates: Netways
United Kingdom: New Signature
United States: Quisitive
Uruguay: Arnaldo C. Castro S.A.
Venezuela: CONSEIN, C.A
Vietnam: Tech Data Advanced Solutions (Vietnam) Company Limited

Posted by Scott Bekker on June 13, 2019 at 10:40 AM