Over the next six to 12 months, the key challenge for Microsoft partners will be keeping pace with the incoming stream of innovation triggered by the ongoing changes in Cloud technology, according to Microsoft Australia partner business and development director, Dean Swan.
Swan told ARN partners are now under pressure to more proactively engage in in-house development to stay up to date with Cloud changes. This differs to the traditional world where a major new technology release would occur every three to four years.
As such, he said the focus should be to question how to keep sales, pre-sales, and technical teams trained and up to speed with streams of innovaiton.
For Swan, the three major components of moving forward and tackling Cloud include pragmatic busineses modelling, consideration into time, and an assessment of customer requests.
Business modelling is concerned with evaluating services to consider alternative or hybrid delivery models.
"If your business model is 100 per cent service delivery, consider what it would look like if 20 per cent was managed services delivery that is Cloud-oriented," Swan said. "Utilise a pragmatic approach in regards to thinking about the very core of your business. Do not get too ahead of yourself in terms of the hype, but ground yourself to how to build a profitable business around the Cloud."
Partners also need to consider the time it will take to achieve the appropriate business model. Swan said this requires a look at what form of training is necessary, and whether skillsets can be developed or brought in instead. For example, the partner should consider if it wants a strong, experienced business development manager, or if a more agile, tele-based salesforce which can get out to a greater numbers of customers is more appropriate.
In terms of customer engagement, Swan believes discussion should not just be product or services-centric; partners need to identify what sort of business relationship the customer expects.
Swan said, "Have a look at what customers are asking for. What do they expect from a Cloud vendor, and what are they looking for when they move to the Cloud."
"The fact is a large percentage of IT buyers want the flexibility to move workloads to Cloud, but move back off Cloud and on-premise for whatever reason. The partners should asses if they can provide them with that capability."
In addition, Swan reiterated that partners must commit to Microsoft technology to understand and therefore effectively present its capabilities powered by Cloud.
Beneath the Surface
While Microsoft's Surface RT and Pro hybrid tablet devices have been available via the retail channel since last year's launch (more recently for the Pro version, of course), the products are on the verge of being pushed through the Australian channel as part of phase two of the corporation's global partner rollout.
Swan did not to reveal any details of the launch or list partners which will have access to the devices, but told ARN a two-tier (distributor and reseller) model will be utilised.
He also said there have been - depending on the market - between two to six authorised resellers selected for the products, and while no figure has been authorised in Australia, Microsoft wants to broaden that number out.
When questioned whether the distributors attending Microsoft APC (including Synnex and Ingram Micro) would have Surface available, Swan said, "that's pretty consistent worldwide [that] we've gone to market with Synnex and Ingram."
Nermin Bajric attended Microsoft APC as a guest of Microsoft.
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