Microsoft is releasing several products and services to help local partners make the most of global partner program changes.
The announcement ties into the software giant’s Partner Network, a major revamp of the vendor's channel engagement unveiled in July.
The highlight is the launch of Microsoft Online Services in Australia, a suite of business communications and collaboration software products available as subscription, cloud-based services.
They will be offered to customers of all sizes, and aim to give partners opportunities to resell, customise and provide consulting, migration and managed services.
The vendor has also announced new partner panels to help encourage and facilitate two-way dialogue between it and its partner community. Six new panels, comprised of a national body and five state-based panels, will provide partners with a more formalised voice into Microsoft. The panels will act as advisory bodies to help optimise the programs, tools and support Microsoft has in place for the channel.
At the 2009 Microsoft Partner Conference, Microsoft SMB and partner group director, Paul Voges, said the vendor has had to adjust the way it does business with its partners, and would move to be more directly competitive going forwards.
"We have limited resources in people, but through initiatives like the partner panels we have committed to more deep and regular conversations with partners," he said. "We want to make sure the community is strong through regular health checks."
Microsoft Australia managing director, Tracey Fellows, challenged partners in a presentation to push the vendor into greater discussions with them.
“We are asking our partners the same that we're asking of ourselves – we need you to be more competitive and to take to the competition with more tenacity," she said. "We want you to push us hard to be successful.”
Microsoft will also make its PinPoint tools available to partners in 2010. PinPoint is an online marketplace aimed at assisting customers to find the experts, products and services they need. PinPoint is an enhanced Web-based offering designed to connect Microsoft customers with the right partner.
Matthew Sainsbury travelled to the Microsoft Partner Conference as a guest of Microsoft.