MS banks on partner expansion and collaboration

DQC Bureau
New Update

Gurgaon:: Microsoft has big plans to scale up its operations in the country and they are banking on their channel partners to do the trick for them. With the help of their partner programs especially P2P (Partner to Partner) Connect program they aim to reap rich dividends.

Elaborating about their plans for the space Rajeev Mittal, Group Director, Microsoft said, “Partners are our route to the market, they are the ones who deliver the final experience to the customers and thus they are the most vital interface between a customer and Microsoft. That apart partners help us overcome the challenges of the vast geographical spread of the country. The aim of the Microsoft Partner Program broadly is to enhance our relationship with the channel ecosystem, and specifically leverage on our relationship with resellers and solution providers.”

At present Microsoft has 6,000 partners under various categories. Out of these 480 partners are a part of the Small Business Specialist Channel (SBSC) program, which are spread across 26 cities in India. “Under this program Microsoft helps the partners differentiate their offerings to customers depending on the customer's needs and requirements. The center of universe of our partner program is that the channel partner needs to be customer centric. They need to be able to not only deliver a product but to deliver value to the customers.” The reason why partner training is essential for Microsoft. Since July the company has trained 2,500 people from 900 partner organizations.

But what has the company really excited are the new partner programs that they have launched and on which they are banking on heavily. “Our main strategy is geographical expansion that includes not only increasing our office reach but also increasing the footprints of the partners. To enable us to reach more and more locations across the country we have appointed “reach enabled resellers” or what you would normally refer to as sub or regional distributors, people who are positioned between the distributors and resellers. These resellers are mainly for tie-3 market and smaller organizations. This is targeted to get more reach in partner organizations and the outcome is to get more customers,” informed Mittal.

The Solution Partner Program, which has 100 members as of now, on the other hand caters to align key technology focused organizations to grow their business around specific areas like security, collaboration and search and business intelligence. The most interesting addition however is the Partner to Partner or P2P Connect Program. Elaborating on the same, Mittal said, “The reason why we are very keen on the P2P Connect Program is because it helps channel partners leverage off each other and grow their business. The thrust is on developing a close relation between the Dynamic Partners, as in those who drive ERP and CRM solutions, and the resellers, who drive our products.”

“Collaboration between partners is the next big thing in the channel ecosystem. As a company, that is what we are trying to enhance in the ecosystem, the Indian chapter of the International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners (IAMCP) which was started in the middle of this year, will help this process further. It is in fact our effort at facilitating engagement between partners and promoting them to expand their footprint in collaboration with each other,” Mittal further clarified.

The idea is to create a collaborative effort among the channel transactional partners and the solution partners. This is for license acquisition and license usage perspective, he informed. This also helps the solution providers and resellers to know each other, generate business leads for each other and to work in an environment that is more convenient.

What is surprising is that the company is getting aggressive on the channel front at a time when recessionary markets have forced a lot of people on the backfoot. Discussing the impact of recession on the channel expansion Mittal commented, “In fact, expansion in such a condition makes the most sense since it means we are breaking into newer markets and acquiring new clients because of getting more partners on board. We are taking it as an opportunity to increase the number of partners across geographical location. This is the time to increase penetration and we are targeting to increase our presence from the current 100 locations to 400 in the next six months. We would be focusing on upcountry market in a big way that would help us to bring down the piracy level also.”

Talking about the future plan of action he said, “The message that we want to send to our partners is that this is not the time to sell a technology but to save the cost of the customers while driving products. This is the best time when technologies like unified communication and concept of consolidation and virtualization will get a boost in the market. Solution providers have to make sure that best of the value-added services should be given to the customers.”