Microsoft’s Partner Network needs an Enema
I recently tweeted a link to an obscure Microsoft post I found about eliminating IUR. I thought at the time, “this is going to get messy“. I followed up with a post on it myself, which promptly blew up, and now there is actually a petition someone started. Just to be clear… I did not sign this petition, and I will not be wielding any pitchforks at Inspire. Why not?
It Had to Happen
The vaunted “Microsoft Partner Network“! Wow, that sends chills down the spines of all other software companies! “Oh no! Here comes a Microsoft Gold Partner! We might as well just pack it in, we don’t stand a chance“, said Salesforce or SAP never. The ones who are the most impressed by Microsoft “Gold” partners, have always been Microsoft Silver partners. The Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) is a legacy construct, designed for an era that has passed. In fact, I think the entire MPN today is constipated!
Wait, I thought you were with us!
It seems that many folks read my post and tweets as a rallying cry, but if you re-read it now, knowing that it was not, it will sound quite different to you. This is not the first time I have landed on the bank opposite of the screaming hordes. The recently introduced ISV revenue-sharing model was another brouhaha that most seemed to have assumed that I, as an ISV, would have had a tantrum over. Instead, I was all for the changes. The fact that I have written some rather scathing reviews of things that I thought were dumb moves by Microsoft, does not mean that I think Microsoft is dumb. I am not “that guy”, but I have met “that guy”. I run into them at every event, and they frequently comment on my posts. They can clearly see the conspiracies that I am obviously missing. Like, how at every event Microsoft has these kids in purple shirts standing around with tablets… appearing like they are giving you directions… but what are they really doing?
Back to MPN
Microsoft is not good at giving news that they feel will be poorly received. With the exception of Guggs, who seems eager to stick his face into a fire, the rest would rather hide. But just because Microsoft is staffed by chickens, doesn’t mean they’re always wrong. In fact, over recent years, it would seem that are right way more often than they are wrong. But even though things are publicly looking great for Microsoft right now, there are leaks in the ship. None that will sink it, but if not addressed, they will cause issues in the near future. MPN is leaking like a sieve. Within MPN are a lot of things, beyond just training and competencies. Your MPN membership controls everything about your relationship with Microsoft, or lack thereof.
As far as partners without a competency are concerned, competencies are a shitty way to grade partners. First of all, they are not required. You could well be a highly capable firm with many professionals, selling a butt-load of licenses, but unless you opted to pay the fee, you are not Microsoft competent. Conversely, up until recently, any firm with a handful of people and few deals, could opt to pay the fee and voilà, they’re a Microsoft Gold Partner! So basically competencies as they existed, were pretty much a sham. BTW, I am saying that as a current Gold partner, not one of those petty and envious Silver ones. A lot of noise was made recently about the required increases in certified individuals and revenue to maintain a competency, but in reality Gold didn’t mean shit anymore, and Silver never did. Microsoft’s entire competencies strategy needs an overhaul, pulling the IUR benefits out of it, just stopped some bleeding from a program that was not working… for anybody.
We’re all familiar with the 80:20 rule; 80% of the value that Microsoft accrues from their Partner Network, probably comes from less than 20% of the Partners in that network. Those who are calling for revolt, creating petitions, and threatening to leave the channel are in the 80%. So, on the unauthorized behalf of Microsoft let me say… “Please Leave!”. How much more nimble and focused could Microsoft be, if they lopped off the 80% deadwood in their channel? How much time and money could they save, by instead of catering to partners who ain’t doing shit, just hitting the delete button? To put this into context, I thought I had heard recently that there were like 600,000 Microsoft Partners Worldwide. Even if that number is way off, how many partners does Microsoft actually need to accomplish their “new” goals? I mean, 20% is still 120,000 partners!
Never say Never
Satya Nadella himself proclaimed “Microsoft has always been a partner led company and will always be a partner led company“. Hmm… it seems like he should have left some wiggle room there. I can easily see a Microsoft without partners, or at least with a fraction of them. Microsoft itself suffers from Pavlovian conditioning, opening every partner presentation with the obligatory “Thank You Partners!” slide, and then going though a whole deck on how developers are no longer required. Many partners, and all LSPs are basically order takers for Microsoft, while at the same time Microsoft continues to expand it’s direct sales capabilities at an unprecedented rate. “Reselling” licenses is a pointless relic in the SaaS world.
Lipstick on a Pig
I had something great for this heading, but I feel like I am starting to sound like a raving lunatic already, so I will save it for a future post.