As a means of businesses building their organisation’s IT infrastructure using Microsoft technology, the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) has been successful since its inception in 1992. Now boasting hundreds of thousands of partners, businesses can receive support from Microsoft to build or sell products based on Microsoft platforms. Before the 2016 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference on 10–14 July in Toronto, Canada, Martin Gregory, partner business & development director at Microsoft UK, tells Chief Executive Officer how technology trends are altering the make-up of the MPN and how things are likely to evolve in the future.
Chief Executive Officer: Which products and solutions form the lion's share of custom for the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN)? Do you expect growth to be driven by cloud services in the future?
Martin Gregory: Cloud services are already transforming the MPN, driving profitability by providing choice to customers and encouraging significant growth. Our partners are a fundamental part of our success with cloud, and drive the majority of our cloud transactions and deployments.
In addition to Azure, Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics are key solutions that partners within the MPN are using to grow their businesses.
What are the benefits of the network for partner members and their customers?
The primary benefit of the MPN is the growth opportunities it provides. We are committed to helping our partners innovate, sharing new business opportunities and supporting them with their growth. To do this, we continue to invest heavily in the network and partners are also benefitting in terms of profitability from our cloud business.
We also work to address the training requirements of our partners through a variety of programmes and tools - including marketing training, technical training events and roadshows, as well as our Sure Step programme for cloud. These provide opportunities for us to connect with partners while delivering training that will help them to counsel their customers and develop their own propositions.
Ultimately, customers have the access to knowledgeable Microsoft partners who are well equipped to support the implementation of our solutions and can add value along the way. And when it comes to cloud, our partners' customers are benefitting from choice: with options available across public, private and hybrid clouds.
How does the network dovetail into Microsoft's strategy for new product and service releases?
We ensure that all Microsoft partners have access to the guidance, training and contacts required to evolve their propositions and selling processes in line with new releases, and advise their customers accordingly.
As technology is woven more and more into the fabric of society, businesses are changing how they approach IT, and our partners are responding to new challenges in novel and innovative ways. We are committed to helping our partners take advantage of this opportunity and support them through their business transformation.
As the internet of things (IoT) grows every day, are you seeing more and more imaginative uses for Microsoft's services than ever before? Do you have any examples?
As the IOT proliferates, our services are enabling businesses - and indeed, anyone with a business idea - to connect devices, leverage insights and find a competitive advantage. Meanwhile, our partners are using their own unique standpoint to help customers ensure that the Azure IoT Suite is tailored to meet their individual ideas and requirements.
Though consumer IoT gets plenty of buzz, there's an immediate and major opportunity in IoT for businesses. Microsoft's partners, through expertise and the ability to forge connections with other partners, are in a prime position to tap into this growing market right now. Some partners are already jumping in. Many may be interested but aren't sure where to start. And that's where we come in.
Microsoft isn't new to this technology - we've been helping customers install and implement IoT devices and solutions for more than two decades. Our vision is simple: IoT shouldn't be complicated. It's about connecting the devices and assets you already own with the right technology to create insights and make more informed business decisions. Windows 10 and Microsoft Azure are core to realising this vision.
What benefits do Microsoft and its partners get from attending the annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC)?
Bringing over 15,000 of our partners together under one roof creates an excellent opportunity for networking, business growth and education. When you bring many of the best minds of the IT industry to a single place, the impossible becomes the achievable.
At WPC, partners get to hear the latest revelations from top Microsoft leaders on industry analysis, strategic direction, and how Microsoft enables partners and their customers to achieve more. For those looking to expand their network and learn from peers, no other event offers the breadth and depth of Microsoft partner experience that WPC does.
WPC also provides our partner organisations with access to a range of industry updates, thought leadership and partner communities - all in order to equip themselves with the tools necessary for business expansion, innovation and growth.
Since its inception in 1992, the programme has grown exponentially. What goals does the network have for the future?
Our vision for the network is to build a community that enables an increasing number of partners to generate revenue from the cloud, build their own unique IP, and help us to empower individuals and organisations to achieve more. To facilitate this, we work to connect with our partners, listen to their needs and supply insights, tools and training to help them succeed and be profitable.
We are continuing to invest in a mobile-first, cloud-first strategy as a company, which means that we are continuing to evolve our programme to ensure we are supporting your success in this new world as well.
Partner of choice
ThyssenKrupp Elevator is a Microsoft customer that has harnessed IoT to find its own competitive advantage. Using data from its elevators, which are connected to the Microsoft cloud, ThyssenKrupp is able to provide predictive and pre-emptive maintenance to its elevators - resulting in increased reliability, cost savings and diagnostics
from collected data.