Microsoft Partner Network

Microsoft announced last week the upgrade partner portal now called the Partner Network. The new portal will have more social elements enabling partners to interact with each other. This is a great step forward for Microsoft, but does not match IBM’s addition of Lotus Live into it’s partner program. Facilitating partner activity is all well and good, but what then? ‘Partner networks’ need collaboration tools to allow partners to engage on opportunities. IBM, Google and Microsoft have the ‘live’ offerings to enable this.

Now that vendors are starting to see the value of P2P interaction within their ecosystems, and seeing the ecosystem more as a network rather than a hub and spoke model, the under lying partner management framework also needs to evolve. How PAMs (Partner Account Managers) are assigned to partners based on partner size and geography are irrelevant… hub and spoke thinking. We should rather focus on a new breed of Partner Portfolio Managers (PPMs). The role of a PPM is to manage a group of synergistic partners and actively fostering P2P activity. This would also support the notion on vertical solution maps.

Partner management should not be regional. The fact that it is, derives from revenue recognition and how people are commissioned. I see small partners with cutting edge technology, top 3 local references in their home territory and no support on a global level. A huge amount of innovation and competitive differentiation is being left to the road side, because we cannot figure out a global model for revenue recognition. The gap between local account management and being a globally managed partner is huge. This favors partners that are from large domestic markets and have the ability to achieve critical mass locally with Microsoft’s support.

If we do bring collaboration tools from the Live portfolio into the Partner Network, should we also consider optimizing the solution for ISVs, integrators, hosting partners, etc.? The problem with Live offerings, regardless of the vendor, is that they are too generic. They are not optimized to support a best practice work flow different groups, such as software vendors, large account resellers, resellers, integrators, hosting companies, etc. Also let’s consider the opportunity to link systems and share information across P2P boundaries. A unified platform would support also business planning, forecasting, etc. After all the alpha vendor, as a PPM, is always one node in micro community or group of synergistic partners.

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