NEW ORLEANS – After a long meeting with 380 Canadian channel partners attending the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, held here, new Microsoft Canada (NASDAQ: MSFT) president Eric Gales revealed that the Canadian subsidiary is aiming at seven markets and wants partners to take away share.
Gales has also budgeted an increase in marketing and has hired Andrew Dixon to be the new chief marketing officer.
“I thanked our partners here because we had great results compared to other subsidiaries in Microsoft. I had a share conversation with them and it resonated with the people. The focus will be on a small number of competitors. I think people made that connection and we’ll get more share of wallet from partners because current many of them have shared workload with other vendors,” Gales said.
Those competitors are VMware, Cisco Systems, Google, IBM, Oracle and Salesforce.com.He added that partners now better understand Software + Services, and that wasn’t the case last year. “There was some nervousness in the channel about the cloud. I think it has become more real for them now that there’s more details on Azure. Partners can see it now and they know where it fits,” Gales said.
Dixon also revealed during a special press briefing for Canadian channel press that Business Intelligence, virtualization, unified communications, collaboration, enterprise content management, data centre virtualization, platform data management and CRM will be the main markets Microsoft will concentrate on with partners in for the next 12 months.
“All the sales, service, marketing and partnering investments will concentrate all those business areas,” Dixon said.
Gales said that many of those markets by default are growing, such as unified communications and CRM. “With those it’s more about fuelling the adoption through the channel, but in data centre and server management those are mature so it’s about taking share away,” he said.
Corinne Sharp, the new partner lead for Microsoft Canada, told CDN that her team will be increasing the investment in the channel and adding more customer promotions. “These promotions are about putting money back into the hands of the customer. We pay it but the cheque has the name of the partner instead of us,” she said.
Sharp also noted the Microsoft Canada created Excellence program will continue and it will be augmented by the newly announced customer satisfaction survey program released early this week as part of the new Microsoft Partner Network.
The Excellence program will continue to be run all year round and partners, while partners can tailor question in the Microsoft Canada’s partner survey program.
“This is about the evolution of the partner network and the aim of the program is to differentiate and distinguish partners through their competencies and customer satisfaction score will be one part of that,” Sharp said.
Gales added that the new customer satisfaction survey program is not about dropping partners because of bad scores. “If we get poor results from those surveys it’s an issue that we need to respond to and we want to raise the crème to the top rather than push those partners to the bottom,” he said.
There will also be no changes to the Ultimate VAR program. Currently, Microsoft Canada has 93 partners signed in this program and Sharp would like more to join.
The Microsoft Surface product will get some more attention as Gales has assigned an executive to this product. Microsoft Canada is identifying markets for the Surface, while they put the finishing touches on a program for partners who want to understand the product better. “There can be a big evolution with Surface. People think it’s just a touch screen, but it’s not. Surface can see and that will provide more opportunities,” he said.
Gales added that while Microsoft in the U.S. will be embarking on a retail presence there are no plans to open a retail store in Canada this year.
Gales said that he sees a renewed sense of optimism form the partner community from his meeting with the 380 Canadian partners.
“Not all of them did well because some sectors were hard hit, while others did OK, but across the board the business held up and the optimism is rubbing off on people. There are plenty of partners who said they can out perform the market and take away share,” he said.