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Microsoft Partner of the Future Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

What Microsoft looks for in a Partner

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


The idea come from an IDC report published in November titled, "­Partner of the Future: 10 Transf­orm­ations IT Solution Providers Must Make." The report lays out why and how IT services companies have to think about the industry going forward. The report states, "The fact is, mainta­ining the status quo will be a failing strategy for IT solution providers. These business partners of some of the world's top IT vendors are going to have to make multiple changes, and soon. The hard part is that the market conditions that are forcing all of these transf­orm­ations are happening all at once.
Credit: Mike Harvath


Conditions that Define Partners of the Past

Companies continuing to occupy the low ground of genera­list, best defined as doing anything for anybody, worst defined as doing anything for a buck. Not the best place to be.
Increm­ental growth, not growing with the market, losing out to specia­lists or better­-po­sit­ioned compet­itors.
Downward pressure on profits; 10 percent or less EBIDTA contri­bution.
Continued boots-­on-­the­-gr­ound, on-pre­mises business philos­ophy, with no or little remote capabi­lity.
Continued reliance on time and material, and fixed-bid project work.
Selling exclus­ively to the technology buyer, and either forgetting or not knowing that this audience, while important, is not always the way in or the decision maker.
Struggling to attract new leads.
Ineffi­cient sales and marketing, with too heavy a reliance on vendor­-su­pplied leads.
Poor valuations of your business in the market, owing in large part to all of these points.

Steps to Becoming a 'Partner of the Future'

What all of the aforem­ent­ioned transition strategies will eventually do is further consol­idate the industry, which is not only inevit­able, but actually a good thing. Those doing the consol­idating will be the Partners of the Future; those being consol­idated will be the Partners of the Past. While the industry's firms will consol­idate, the industry itself will fragment into more and more vertically oriented segments.

For small firms looking to survive, they'll have to become specia­lized in one of these narrowly defined market segments. Mid-market firms looking to increase value will specialize in three to five verticals, and enterprise companies looking to grow will specialize in six or more vertical markets.

Transf­orm­ations Providers of the Future

Techno­logy: Must have transi­tioned most, if not all, of their technology focus from what IDC calls the 2nd Platform to the 3rd Platform, which includes the 4 key pillars of cloud, analytics, mobile and social.
Focus: Must move from a broad "all things to all people­" focus to being specia­lized in a certain industry or business process.
Customer: Must transition from exclus­ively selling to the IT department to selling to the line-o­f-b­usiness (LOB) buye.
Sales Motion: Need to move away from an all-en­com­passing focus on the up-front "­dea­l" to a focus on long-term customer "­rel­ati­ons­hip­s."
Time Horizon: Must forgo certain short-term gains to be able to win in the long term.
Marketing: With buyers doing their homework online now, partners must move from a limited amount of tradit­ional marketing to a much greater investment in digital marketing.
Activi­ties: Need to move up the profit stack by shifting from resale to profes­sional services to managed services to building intell­ectual property.
Compet­ition: Need to look out less for tradit­ional IT-focused compet­itors and more for nontra­dit­ional compet­itors such as born-i­n-t­he-­cloud companies, customers turned partners, develo­pers, referral agents and more.
Alliances: Need to move from a "do it oursel­ves­" mentality to forming alliances with other partners to deliver complete solutions.
Compet­itive Advantage: Can no longer take comfort in long-s­tan­ding, sustai­nable, compet­itive advant­ages. Short-­lived or transient advantages might be the new normal.