Microsoft has drawn up a blueprint for channel growth in 2019, triggered by Windows 7 end of support, emerging business models and partner innovation.
The rallying cry for technology providers comes as the clock ticks down on the vendor’s iconic operation system, as the date of 14 January 2020 looms large for businesses.
Coupled with changing buying patterns, through subscription-based purchasing, the message from Redmond is that innovation through the channel is heightening.
“Computing is getting embedded in every person’s life,” said Alvaro Celis, vice president of worldwide device sales at Microsoft, when speaking to ARN during a tour of Australia.
“Whether in our homes, in our cars, at our places of employment, in our stadiums, in our entertainment centres - every industry, from precision agriculture to precision medicine, from autonomous cars to autonomous drones, from personalised retail to personalised banking, are all being transformed.
“That's the opportunity that Microsoft and our channel partners have. It's in some sense endless and we are here to work together to go after this huge opportunity.”
Charged with leading and enabling the global sales force driving sales of Windows devices, Redmond-based Celis is no stranger to the Asia Pacific market, having been COO of the region for four years until July 2015.
For the industry executive, the coming together of an intelligent cloud, with an intelligent edge, represents opportunity for partners to drive growth through devices.
“One way to think about the intelligent edge is the interface between the cloud and the real world,” Celis said. “It is the layer of the devices that we use to access the data in the cloud.
“Currently not all those devices are connected. You can’t always easily get the stuff off your PC and on to your phone. Or the stuff off your tablet and on to your Xbox. Or the stuff off your smart fridge and into your smart car.”
Through ensuring such devices are interconnected, Celis said partners can leverage artificial intelligence and “true serverless computing power” to improve access to data.
“In device sales we are responsible for the intelligent edge of devices, that connects people, their devices and their activities to maximise their potential both at work and outside,” he explained.
“I believe that the most profound technologies are those that disappear, they weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it. And that's what's happening, that's the opportunity that we see.”
Within the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge, Microsoft is positioning the channel across six core solution areas: gaming; modern life; modern workplace; business applications; apps and infrastructure and data and artificial intelligence.
“Together, Microsoft and our partner community have a lot of opportunity ahead to deliver on this promise,” Celis said.
Specifically, Celis outlined modern workplace as a key focus point for partners, leveraging the vendor’s suite of technologies to drive transformation across enterprise and small and medium-sized businesses.
“Microsoft Windows devices offer the best in class security to protect our customers and they can use Autopilot to help deploy the devices to their employees,” Celis outlined.
“When you attach Microsoft 365, you are combing the power of Windows 10, with Office 365 and enterprise mobility and security giving you a best in class set up with integrated device plus cloud services to help increase employee productivity and job satisfaction.”
According to Celis, monthly subscriptions are now “very compelling” for customers in allowing improved management of day-to-day operations and business expenses.
Working with partners, Microsoft is helping businesses shift capital expense to operational expense, through device-as-a-service (DaaS) models, which are becoming more frequent within the partner ecosystem.
“A great example came out of the Australia and New Zealand market,” Celis explained. “The local Microsoft device sales team saw the trend in business models shifting towards subscriptions and worked with the channel and with the OEM partners to build a compelling offer, combining everything a customer would want into one manageable per user per month convenient bill.”
As explained by Celis, partners can build new business models through creating a DaaS program, or partnering with an OEM already operating a DaaS solution, offering the opportunity to add subscription software and services.
“Or they can work with the distributors to take advantage of their financing solutions and package up what their customers need and offer it on a per user per month basis,” Celis added.
“Our channel partners benefit from incremental device sales opportunities plus associated software and services attach and a recurring revenue stream.”
The message to partners comes three months after the tech giant revamped its device sales team across Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) to drive reseller and distribution growth through original equipment manufacturer (OEM) markets.
As revealed by ARN, the new-look team includes Cassandra Klintfalt and Lee Edgerton as partner sales executives across distribution and reseller divisions respectively, alongside Charis Jamieson as commercial category lead and Peter Garner heading up regional commercial sales.
Spearheaded by Chris Bright - OEM director of A/NZ at Microsoft - the group aims to drive digital transformation growth through the channel on both sides of the Tasman.
“With the ongoing acceleration of digital transformation for our partners, the commercial PC market is seeing unprecedented growth,” said Bright, when speaking to ARN in December 2018.
“As such we’re making some changes to our team structure to ensure we can best support our customers needs. I’m excited to see our team continue to expand and help deliver exponential growth to our partners.”