Digital disruption and cloud drive Microsoft channel trends

Aisling Curtis, Microsoft
Aisling Curtis, Microsoft



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9 March 2017 | 0

As organisations try to maximise value from investments, while taking advantage of digital disruption, they are increasingly looking to the channel for solutions and trusted partners.

Speaking to TechPro, Aisling Curtis, small and medium solutions and partners director, Microsoft, said that the channel landscape is moving toward providing complete solutions for customers, through a deeper more strategic relationships.

This cumulative effect, said Curtis, enables organisations to tackle digital disruption the way they want.

The new, simpler approach, involves working with customers more closely to understand their needs as a customer, and how they want to transform their businesses, said Curtis.

“We see that our partners also have a great opportunity to help them transition to cloud,” she said.

Cloud influence
Cloud influence is also an important change in the market, Curtis reports, with some partners being more cloud-ready, while others are adapting.

“I see a big move in terms of our traditional partners, the level of capability and change that they need to accomplish, building out new practices that will help inform customers and deliver in terms of change the customers require.”

“I see new partners coming into the space, born-in-the-cloud partners — they understand SaaS, IaaS and PaaS, and what we have here is the capability to help them develop those practices from a central point of view, but also a real interest in making sure they are equipped for the future, future-proofing their own businesses as indigenous partners and those with a global aspect as well.”

This diversity among partners is healthy for the ecosystem, said Curtis.

“It is important for us to have a very diverse range of partners that will be able to work from a solutions point of view, as well as delivery. And by delivery, we don’t just mean drop and go, we really mean working with the customers from a trusted partner perspective.”

Transformation goal
The end goal, for most organisations, is business transformation to adapt to new markets, new business models and new opportunities. These conversations, said Curtis, are not being driven by IT, but by the business.

“If they are undertaking a transformation, they need their end users, their customers to be buying in and adopting, for a successful deployment. It isn’t just about getting the technology in there and enabled, it is about consumption and usage too and the experience for those end users and customers,” said Curtis.

“In the partner space, what you are seeing is that the partners are moving, and need to move, to a more trusted partner model with the customer. But they also need to have a greater understanding of the depth of cultural change.”

“It is not just about tech or even business, but also about cultural change to get the full strategy adopted,” she said.

While partners need to understand this level of change, it is also a process where they can bring their influence to bear.

There is a different level of engagement, business decision makers and leaders now taking part, said Curtis.

Deep engagement
“The partners’ deeper engagement is key to understanding the speed at which the organisations are capable of changing. That helps the partner to better provide for and support that change.”

“A lot of the budgets for these changes sit outside the control of the CIO, so you have to speak to those business decision makers to get access to those budgets.”

“New partners are focused on this as part of their make-up, but it is coming along more in terms of traditional partners.”

Curtis said that while this is a growing trend, more traditional partners still outnumber the newer generation, but the new cohort is growing fast. There are opportunities for those who can transform to meet developing needs.

“The ones making the greatest inroads are the ones who are engaging most widely, and they are moving quickly. We are supporting that very heavily.”

“We are investing heavily in helping traditional partners to change and develop in this environment.”

Solution providers
Curtis said the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) programme is a great opportunity to have an end to end conversation with customers.

Despite the range of resources available to partners to transform and pass on the benefits to customers, Curtis said there are partners that are not going to make the journey, and that is inevitable. “And we can handle that,” she added.

“Quite a few are moving quickly through the journey.”



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