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  • Larry Gregory

Top Takeaways from Microsoft WPC 2016

I recently returned from a familiar 2 week tour: Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (Microsoft WPC) and Microsoft Global Exchange (MGX). This was my 10th WPC (and 21st MGX)!

WPC remains the most productive event of the year. I was managing 5 company calendars this year so it required some juggling. I didn’t get to the 280+ sessions at WPC onsite, but did review most of the content afterwards.

Worldwide Partner Conference

Consistent Vision

Microsoft is great at attaching product objectives to a customer-ready vision and cascading that down to team objectives and campaigns. As was the case last year, the 3 overarching “ambitions” are:

  1. Build the intelligent cloud platform

  2. Create more personal computing

  3. Reinvent productivity & business processes

4 customer scenarios are affiliated with these pillars:

  1. Engage your customers

  2. Empower your employees

  3. Optimize your operations

  4. Transform your Products

Consider aligning your messaging with these themes to better integrate with Microsoft’s marketing engine for the year to come.

Microsoft FY17 Priorities

Microsoft sales and marketing objectives align with the 3 company ambitions. Consider which objectives explicitly align with ISVs:

  1. Build the Intelligent Cloud encompasses Azure consumption, Enterprise Mobility Suite, SQL Server, Microsoft hybrid cloud technologies, and co-selling with marketplace ISVs.

  2. Create More Personal Computing is less about software partners, dealing with Windows 10 deployment OEM/Surface sales.

  3. Reinvent Productivity and Business Processes is focused on Office 365 and Dynamics 365 and relevant if you provide migration or other Office 365 enabling technologies.

ISV Sales Resources

Microsoft’s field operating model (EPG, Public Sector, SMSP, DX, M&O) hasn’t changed but ISV co-selling resources have increased, including ISV-aligned Partner Sales Executives (PSE) and Cloud Solution Architects (CSA). This year, ISVs with a co-sell status will receive explicit leads from field sellers. ISVs must have a VM solution in the Azure Marketplace and have significant Microsoft cloud pull-through to participate.

Microsoft AppSource is a new directory targeting business users. AppSource enables trial of Azure SaaS solutions (not IaaS VMs as in the case of Azure Marketplace). Unlike Azure Marketplace, Office Store, and Windows Store, the ISV actually receives the customer lead information from AppSource trials.

Enterprise Sales Alignment

Microsoft enterprise sales teams are measured on both new cloud contracts and consuming existing customer cloud contracts. Therefore, they are motivated to work with ISVs that help consume Azure resources from enterprise agreements (or drive net new Office 365 usage). High Potential (Hipo) accounts (enterprise customers representing the greatest Azure consumption potential) will have Cloud Solution Architect and Principal Solution Specialist (PSS) resources allocated to them. These are good stakeholders for Azure ISVs to know.

Interestingly, the DX organization (where ISVs are managed within Microsoft) is motivated to drive ISV SaaS solutions (because it is easier to measure their direct Azure consumption). This doesn’t match up with the field sales motivation to use VM IaaS solutions in Azure Marketplace. Note however, there is a manual “dual credit” solution to recognize ISV Azure SaaS solutions that are sold into the enterprise.

US Changes

In the US, 2 more districts (MidAmerica out of St. Louis and Financial Services in New York) have been carved out, making 15 US EPG districts total. This means new ATU and STU teams are spinning up in those areas. Other industry roles are coming back to the US market including manufacturing and retail. An additional 2 Microsoft Technology Center locations are being brought online (San Francisco and Seattle) but will be directed by the product groups, not the sales organization this year.

Where to focus

If you are a committed Microsoft ISV, take the following steps to effectively partner with Microsoft in FY17:

  1. Understand Microsoft priorities and sales incentives

  2. Map your solutions to their priorities and quantify your value-add (particularly in terms of Azure consumption and/or Office 365 pull-through)

  3. Engage the right Microsoft stakeholders with the right message (pithy and targeted)

  4. Leverage SI/VAR partners to scale your selling efforts (Microsoft doesn’t want to overwhelm your capacity to execute)

In sum, you’ll want to demonstrate how you’re driving net new Azure, Office 365, or Dynamics 365 adoption to attract meaningful Microsoft co-selling and co-marketing support. Ensure your alliance management efforts are closely aligned with your sales and channel teams so leads are pursued efficiently (and you maintain preferred partner status with Microsoft).


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