Microsoft’s 2017 roadmap to focus on six priorities

TORONTO – It may have been the last keynote of the 2016 Microsoft Worldwide Partner conference, but Judson Althoff’s presentation was certainly the most highly anticipated for the partner community.

CDN learned that Althoff, the new executive vice president of Microsoft’s worldwide commercial business unit, was notified last Thursday (approximately a week ago) that he would be the last presenter at WPC 2016 after COO Kevin Turner, who usually has this spot, left the company to become CEO of Citadel Securities.

Many partner executives relayed to CDN throughout the show that Althoff has a big job ahead of him because he now has responsibility for the entire commercial space including the enterprise, public sector, SMB, and services. If that was not enough Althoff, the former Oracle channel chief, also has to take care of the developer and channel partner communities.

He opened his keynote by saying: “It’s an exciting time for digital transformation!”

Even thought he had a short amount of time to prepare, Althoff did present his roadmap for this year and beyond intent on leading the digital transformation of the commercial unit through partners. He emphasized that this effort will only be partner led.

His plan has six priorities. They are:

  1. Drive digital transformation with customers
  2. Accelerate cloud adoption
  3. Propel Windows 10 enterprise deployment
  4. Generate SQL Server 2016 growth
  5. Drive ISV and system integrator momentum
  6. Make experience come to life through hardware solutions

Priority One

The base of this focus will be to push for more IP integration with partners either on top of the Microsoft stack or as a service. Althoff said a vertical focus would be ideal, but it’s not necessarily a deal breaker. This approach will have four pillars: customer engagement, empowering employees, optimizing operations and transforming products.

“When talking with a CEO, when talking with a chief marketing officer or a chief relationship officer, a chief financial officer, one has to speak in the vernacular of business outcomes. So, metaphorically, you can think of this as a two-sided account plan to work with every customer.  In fact, quite literally a two-sided account plan. To win the hearts and minds of the technology audience, we have to make the bold ambitions become their agenda.  To truly allow businesses to achieve more, we need to align digital transformation with their outcomes,” he said.

Priority Two

Accelerating cloud adoption across every facet of the cloud to include business productivity apps such as CRM and ERP needs to go through the Intelligent Cloud Platform, Althoff said.

His advice to partners is to fully embrace the new consumption models of customers and to drive real active usage.

“You don’t get value out of the solution, you don’t get value out of the experience until it’s truly delivered and realized by your customer,” he told the more than 16,000 attendees at the conference.

The new consumption models out there will align with the Intelligent Cloud Platform in five key areas starting with hybrid as Althoff believes Microsoft is the only hyper-scale cloud partner ecosystem that can deliver hybrid solutions.

“You want to run it in your data centre, you want to run it in our public cloud, you want to run any piece of it in either location, we’re here to support you,” he added.

The other four areas are security, compliance, trusted cloud as an ecosystem and big data analytics.

Priority Three

According to Althoff, there are 350 million users of Windows 10 and in a word that means “opportunity.”

Althoff believes this user groups are about creating 350 million pieces of demand generation.

“Let’s not forget how this company had its first revolution of growth.  It was because people at home had rich PC experiences and then they came to work and had to stare at a 3270 terminal.  They wanted those experiences at home to be alive and well in the workplace,” he said.

Going forward Windows 10 will be positioned across multiple devices from wearables to smartphones to fabric to tablets to large-format displays and the HoloLens.

On top of that opportunity is the collection of data. “Folks, I’m here to tell you that data is the new black.”

Althoff added that big data analytics is the ticket for the channel to see the C-suite decision makers in business because they are all looking for intelligent analytics and intelligent understanding of the businesses that they run.

Priority Four

Althoff said SQL 2016 democratizes data as a foundational product. SQL 2016 also expands to the cloud.

“SQL 2016 has the ability to build this data estate from inside the data centre to the cloud, harnessing every facet of data, we’re the only ones who can do that.  This partner ecosystem, the only ones who can deliver against that vision.”

Priority Five

“ISVs and systems integrators are of the utmost importance to Microsoft more so than ever,” Althoff said.  But there is a new approach here as Althoff wants partners to build-on instead of sell-with. More channel investment is coming from Microsoft for ISVs and solution providers. Compensation inside Microsoft will be altered to reward sales reps who help the partner community win new business.

Althoff said that his team is working to re-pivot the entire partner organization to focus on enablement specifically on technical skills to creating new cloud services practices for the channel.

Look for Microsoft to possibly fund new cloud proof-of-concepts for channel partners.

Priority Six

Hardware is priority No. 6 for Althoff. “What does hardware have to do with digital transformation?” Althoff asked himself on stage.

But Althoff believes hardware is the last mile of the overall user experience. “The digital transformation does not come to life until we actually marry together our hardware solutions, whether they be first-party or third-party hardware solutions,” he said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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