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  • Larry Gregory

What’s New for Microsoft 2021 Partner of the Year Awards

Winning a Microsoft Partner Award accelerates sales pipeline, attracts new prospects, and enhances your Microsoft and channel partnerships.

The Microsoft Partner of the Year award submission tool is now available: the deadline for all entries is April 21, 2021. The approach of writing a compelling 8,000-character essay remains the same.

This year the overall number of global awards increases to 56 (plus individual country awards). A few awards were removed (Azure Influencer, Data Estate Modernization, and DevOps) while others were modified or split into separate awards.

New awards for 2021


  • Rising Azure Technology is an intriguing new award that recognizes a high performing ISV partner that is unmanaged by the Microsoft One Commercial Partner team

  • Cloud Native App Development is different enough from Application Innovation to constitute a new award

  • Note the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework shows up prominently as a preferred nomination element for 6 Azure awards

Business Applications

  • Dynamics 365 Commerce and Dynamics 365 Customer Insights are new awards

  • Dynamics 365 Marketing and Dynamics 365 Sales have been broken out as separate awards

  • Power Apps & Power Automate still exists but the requirements have changed

Modern Work and Security

  • Modern Workplace for SMB, Device, and OEM Device Distributor/Reseller are new awards


  • Defense & Intelligence is a new award category and all the prior industry awards carry forward

Social Impact

  • Sustainability Changemaker is a new award this year. Community Response was added after Covid-19 hit last year and is included again.

Global SI and Global SI Digital Transformation aren’t awards you can apply for, but will be recognized by Microsoft as well.

Award Requirements

IP Co-Sell Ready ISVs have a good opportunity for 38 of the 56 global awards (18 are skewed more towards service partners). Gold competencies are typically required if applying as a non-ISV partner; the specific requirements are specified for each award and enforced by the nomination tool. Note that Competencies must have been achieved by January 2021 (no last-minute competency achievement for award purposes).

Award benefits are similar to past years (e.g., marketing kit with logo, inclusion in Microsoft press release, recognition at the Inspire conference).

Nomination Tool Changes

When submitting a nomination, you need to log in with a corporate account that maps to your MPN identity. Microsoft has evolved the nomination tool to ensure valid entries are received and to reduce duplicate effort for country awards:

  • Eligibility (e.g., Competency, IP Co-Sell Ready status) is checked dynamically by the award tool. Only awards you are pre-approved for will show as available for nominations. IP Co-Sell eligibility and Competency detection isn’t working out of the gate, but Microsoft is aware and will no doubt get that fixed quickly.

  • Specify your country as you submit for a global award and your nomination will automatically be considered for that country of the year nomination.

  • This year you’ll be able to submit your award, then go back and make changes before the award period closes.

The April 21 deadline for awards is stated as firm (but Microsoft has extended the deadline for the last couple years). You can learn all about the submission rules, award categories and nomination process from the Inspire awards website:

How to Win

Last year, Microsoft received over 3,300 partner award nominations from more than 100 countries so if you plan to pursue an award, do it with conviction. Competegy clients have been recognized 22 times for Microsoft Partner of the Year awards. Contact Competegy for nomination authoring support.

2021 Microsoft Partner Award Categories

Azure awards



Cloud Native App Development

Internet of Things

Migration to Azure

Mixed Reality

Modernizing Applications

OSS on Azure

Rising Azure Technology

SAP on Azure

Business Applications awards

Dynamics 365 Business Central

Dynamics 365 Commerce

Dynamics 365 Customer Insights

Dynamics 365 Customer Service

Dynamics 365 Field Service

Dynamics 365 Marketing

Dynamics 365 Sales

Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management & Finances

Power Apps & Power Automate

Power BI

Modern Work and Security awards

Apps & Solutions for Microsoft Teams

Meetings, Calling & Devices for Microsoft Teams

Employee Experience

Modern Endpoint Management

Modern Workplace for Frontline Workers

Modern Workplace for SMB


OEM Device Distributor/Reseller

Project & Portfolio Management


Surface Hub Reseller

Surface PC Reseller

Industry awards


Defense & Intelligence



Financial Services




Media & Communications


Retail & Consumer Goods

Social Impact awards

Community Response

Inclusion Changemaker

Sustainability Changemaker

Business Excellence awards

Advisory Services

Commercial Marketplace

Customer Experience

Global Independent Software Vendor (ISV)

Indirect Provider


Microsoft for Startups

Solution Assessments

Global System Integrator

Global System Integrator Digital Transformation

Country/Region Partner of the Year Awards

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