Microsoft Australia has unveiled a program to train corporate suits in technology as part of an effort to inject new blood into the channel gene pool.
Through the ‘Microsoft Partner Academy’, the vendor will provide fours weeks of skills training to certify non-technical professionals in Dynamics 365, who will then be offered as consultants to partners.
According to the vendor, the program and its resulting certification will benefit partners by helping them gain Silver or Gold competency in Cloud Business Applications.
For Microsoft Australia’s channel boss Rachel Bondi, the program will bring fresh talent to an industry whereby poaching from rivals is the primary recruitment method.
“Taking talent from one partner to another does not grow the base,” she told ARN. “When I talk to a lot of partners, they say their talent keeps on moving to other places. We can’t stop that from happening but we can add more people with the qualifications."
Reflecting the wider shift of technology budgets from CIOs and IT managers to line-of-business executives, Bondi noted that customers are increasingly looking for partners with finance or operations experience and not just pure technical skills.
“[The Academy] takes people with that business knowledge and gives them technical skills, and puts people in this industry when they would not have been before. But you can’t just take someone from business and make them a technical consultant, so that’s why the [training] is really important.”
The Academy is open to all partners, and while the training is provided at Microsoft's expense, participants will be required to pay a placement fee to the vendor’s recruitment partner Manpower in order to gain a consultant.
Up to five partners, including Velrada and Insight, have so far signed up for the program alongside around 50 professionals. If talent sourcing and partner interest prove fruitful, Bondi believes there is potential for 1,000 people to be trained within the financial year.
“The partners that will benefit the most will likely be the SMBs, as the larger ones will likely have their own recruiting process,” she added. “It’s really about augmenting the partners who need more support in getting talent into their organisation.”
The Partner Academy marks one of Bondi’s first significant moves since taking on the role of general manager of its channel organisation, One Commercial, in May this year.
She first joined Microsoft in 1997 as a partner account manager and later spent 17 years working for the vendor in the US, before returning to Australia as COO in January 2016.