Three new competencies added to Microsoft’s partner program

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is set to increase the number of competencies in its partner program from 13 to 16 to help its channel better capitalize on emerging market opportunities and better reflect the changing strategic direction of the company.

Based on partner feedback and market trends, the three new competencies to be introduced to the program will be: Business Intelligence (BI), Unified Communications (UC) Solutions and Hosting Solutions. Within the BI competency will be two specializations, the Business Intelligence Platform (which is currently a specialization under the Data Management Solutions competency) and Performance Management (currently a specialization under the Information Worker Solutions competency).

Partners who are currently in any of these specializations will be automatically elevated into the new competencies and specializations on May 30 says Carol Terentiak, senior partner development manager, partner program for Microsoft Canada. Terentiak says Microsoft is constantly working to evolve its Partner Program, which explains the upcoming changes and additions to the program.

“We’re tuning the program to align with Microsoft priorities, based on what partners have told us and also by what’s happening in the market with opportunities,” Terentiak said. “We’re working to keep up with all of the industry changes.”

Under the UC Solutions competency, Terentiak said there will be three different specializations for partners to take advantage of: IM/Presence, E-mail and Calendaring and Voice.

Among other changes to be made in the Microsoft Partner Program include the renaming of its Business Process and Integration competency to SOA and Business Process.

“We’ve renamed this competency to be consistent with the terms that are being used in the industry,” Terentiak said. “No other changes to this competency will be made.”

Regarding its Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) competency, Terentiak said Microsoft will be making it easier for partners to become specialized in this field by reducing the number of certified partners and exams required.

For the various specializations, the number of Microsoft Certified Partners (MCPs) has been reduced from three or two down to at least one certified individual. For exams, this number has been reduced from five to eight down to two to five, depending on the specialization. Terentiak says the reduction is intended to make it easier for smaller partners to become specialized and receive their competency in the MBS area.

“This should make it easier for the smaller partners with fewer people on staff to become recognized in the MBS competency,” Terentiak said. “Before, the amount of exams and number of certified individuals that were required was a limiting factor for these partners.”

Microsoft will also be adding three new ISV products to its current line up of 30-point tests for MBS-related exams. They include Software Solution Tests for Microsoft Dynamics Entrepreneur, Microsoft Dynamics POS (point of sale) and Microsoft Dynamics C5. In Canada, Terentiak said the only new ISV product that will be applicable to partners will be the Microsoft Dynamics POS.

“The competencies will bring added value to our partners since they’ll be offered additional training, labs and marketing with Microsoft,” she said. “During our WPC (worldwide partner conference) in Houston in July, we should expect some more changes to be announced. There will also be more changes coming in the fall and maybe again next spring.”

Robert Buren, channel capacity manager for Microsoft Canada, said for the 2009 fiscal year, Microsoft’s focus will primarily be on its existing partner base.

“It’s important for partners to know that for many of the established workloads…our focus…will be on increasing the productivity of current partners, and not simply on recruiting new,” he said. “We’re excited about enabling them (our partners) to be more productive.”

Further information about these upcoming changes and new competencies are now available by logging onto the Microsoft Partner Portal, Terentiak said.

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
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