Microsoft reorganizes channel around enterprise

Microsoft Canada Co. Tuesday announced a reorganization of its partner resources in an effort to better serve the company’s largest channel partners.

The Enterprise Partner Group (EPG) will bring the company’s managed

enterprise partners, including systems integrators, independent software vendors, large account resellers (LARs) and direct market resellers (DMRs) under one umbrella. The EPG will also oversee Microsoft’s anti-piracy initiatives.

“”What it will provide our partners is greater focus, a clear point of contact,”” said Lasha Dekker, the 10-year Microsoft Canada veteran who will head the EPG as of July 1. “”They had contacts, but the focus being in one place will make things better.””

She said centralized management will allow Microsoft to better handle feedback from partners and to develop a more cohesive enterprise partner strategy.

“”We’ve always had a strong commitment to our partners, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t do more,”” she said. “”This is trying to do more.””

Chris Trauzzi, president of systems integrator and Microsoft Gold Certified partner Web Front Communications Inc., said having unified partner management including, for the first time, a senior executive devoted exclusively to enterprise partners, will afford partners better exposure to Microsoft’s leadership team. This will lead in turn to increased opportunity to work with Microsoft on marketing initiatives and other efforts.

As well, a single Microsoft unit overseeing all enterprise partners will facilitate relations between partners, he said. Systems integrators were previously managed separately from LARs and DMRs.

“”The benefit I see is this will allow us to better partner with other partners,”” Trauzzi said. “”(Before) if there were cross-selling opportunities, there be two different partners working on it and they’re have to coordinate internally at Microsoft.””

The EPG will be responsible for about 150 Microsoft enterprise partners, a term Microsoft uses for partners that sell to larger retailers and enterprises. The rest of Microsoft Canada’s 15,000 resellers are considered channel partners. Of the 150 enterprise partners, the six with the largest accounts — Compaq Global Services, CGI Group Inc., Accenture, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Electronic Data Systems Corp. and Deloitte Consulting — will each be assigned their own EPG contact while the rest will work be serviced a one-to-many basis.

Trauzzi said he sees the creation of the EPG as part of Microsoft’s shift to solutions selling in the enterprise. In late 2000, Microsoft replaced its Certified Solutions Provider designation with that of Certified Partner, including a Gold level for resellers with expertise in a number of areas, including hosting and application services, enterprise systems and support services.

“”These changes that we’re seeing are geared to partners with expertise in solutions selling,”” Trauzzi said.

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