Microsoft loves the channel and the channel loves MS too!

Microsoft just kicked off three days of its annual partner world conference in Toronto. The attendees attended many sessions and heard a range of speeaches by MS executives. Most importantly Microsoft announced a slew of new and updated services, solutions and programs for its partners.
I can’t stress enough how important partners, resellers, consultans – etc are to technology vendors. Microsoft is not alone but gets a huge focus as not to many companies can invest 1.7 billion in a channel program. IBM joins Microsoft with the ability to invest that kind of money and IS also courting partners – on the software (as is Microsoft), integration and sales sides.
A company can go direct and have its own sales force, but that can only go so far. It’s another thing to be able to develop a channel of technologists who can sell and implement your solutions to customers that they work with and who trust them day in an day out.

Allison Watson (left), vice president of the Worldwide Partner Sales and Marketing Group at Microsoft announced that Microsoft is expanding engagement and opportunities for partners by increasing its investment in the partner channel from $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion for fiscal year 2005.
The increased investment will make more people, training and support available to partners. In addition, Watson announced that each global subsidiary will allocate a total of 35 percent of their global marketing funds to develop “through-partner marketing,” which will be done jointly by Microsoft and partners.
Sanjay Parthasarathy, corporate vice president of developer and platform evangelism announced a number of new and expanded business and technical enablement programs for ISVs.
Watson also announced Channel Builder, a combination of an online tool and off-line events that allows Microsoft partners to collaborate and promote their offerings to other Microsoft partners.
Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Services Rick Devenuti announced the launch of Microsoft Services Partner Advantage, the newest global support offering for partners.
In the enablement area, Microsoft is making a significant investment in partner training focused on sales, technical enablement and marketing.
The additional investment also will fund an increase in marketing support. Microsoft has expanded the marketing tool sets and collateral that partners can use to market their services. Tag lines on advertisements in the Microsoft Business Solutions, server and information worker categories will incorporate a call to action to contact a Microsoft Certified Partner. In addition, Microsoft is launching the Microsoft Resource Directory, a search function sourced by partner profile that lets customers generate a list of partners that meet their preferences. Resources will be added incrementally for inbound presales support, including support for competitive escalations when necessary.
Microsoft also announced today that it is increasing its number of field specialists. Worldwide, 200 technical specialists will be added across all competencies, with 35 percent specializing in Microsoft Business Solutions. The technical specialists will work closely with Microsoft partners to enable customer solutions.
Check out Computer Reseller News’ coverage of this also.