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
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
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.
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: https://partnerawards.partner.microsoft.com/.
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
Cloud Native App Development
Internet of Things
Migration to Azure
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
Modern Work and Security awards
Apps & Solutions for Microsoft Teams
Meetings, Calling & Devices for Microsoft Teams
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
Defense & Intelligence
Media & Communications
Retail & Consumer Goods
Social Impact awards
Business Excellence awards
Global Independent Software Vendor (ISV)
Microsoft for Startups
Global System Integrator
Global System Integrator Digital Transformation
Country/Region Partner of the Year Awards