Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner (OCP) effort, a major redo of how the company engages with partners, inevitably has a big impact on them. Many partners, already in the throes of transforming their businesses or those partners new to the Microsoft partner ecosystem, could use some guidance. That’s the thinking behind IAMCP University, a strategic project that the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) kicked off last fall.
The goal of IAMCP University is to provide exclusive training for IAMCP member companies with Microsoft experts in the areas of marketing and communications, digital transformation, partner profitability, technical training and more.
“This [project] is really spun around OCP, where Microsoft wants to go with it, what the company is putting out in terms of their targets and goals, and how we can bring that value to our members so they can be successful and better serve their customers,” Jeff Shuey, president of IAMCP's Seattle chapter, told Channel Futures.
Many IAMCP members are transitioning their businesses and Shuey doesn't want to see them go off the rails. At the same time, new IAMCP members would benefit from a fast track to success.
Microsoft invests millions of dollars to create resources such as content and information. The sheer volume is too much for an individual firm to sort through. IAMCP sees a role for itself as being a funnel to filter through that content to get the right information to the right people.
“There’s an ocean of information that Microsoft generates, and we want to weed through it to get that info to the right people and speed up that process,” said Randy Steinle, past president of IAMCP – U.S. Steinle just stepped down from his IAMCP leadership role after two years. He’s been an IAMCP-U.S. member, Austin chapter, since 2003.
Microsoft is equally interested in helping partners maneuver through transitions with the company, without them having to reinvent the wheel. In fact, the company acknowledges that partners are essential to its business. Microsoft makes no bones about the fact that partners account for 95 percent of its commercial revenue.
Moving into stage one of the IAMCP University project involves piloting select pieces of content, getting those out to members and evaluating how it goes. The test runs will be done by market and perhaps later by region; then depending on how that goes, adjustments will be made. Plans for stage two involve adding more content.
Initial content targets technology providers having challenges in getting the word out about their businesses.
“About 80 percent of our partners are well-versed in delivering technology and want help with the social aspects of selling; some others don’t care. The other piece is communicating the value of Azure as a platform, or Office 365 or Dynamics 365 as a platform. That will be customer dependent for those considering CRM or ERP. Others may already be on-prem SharePoint or Office deployments and they’re thinking, 'I’ve heard about this Teams thing, how do I get involved?'" Shuey said. Other partners are IT shops that make sure servers stay up and running, and with Azure you can distribute that load into various different areas, he added.
The initial content, selected with help from Microsoft, is a six-part series on partner cloud profitability. Shuey said decisions are still being made about content distribution; for example, University classes, but indicated that the goal is to deliver it in bit-size chunks around what members care about, such as digital marketing, social selling, or how to explain Teams to a Microsoft customer.
OCP subject matter experts will also be on tap to teach some classes, Steinle noted.
“The idea being that IAMCP members get trained on selected content so then we can deliver it across the country, or the world, repurposing the content,” he said.
The initial pilot is expected to kick off soon.
While IAMCP is in the initial stages of its University project, Shuey and Steinle note that they’re working in conjunction with Microsoft.
“Microsoft spends a lot of time figuring out what the trends are in the industry, what people need, and is making investments — so they have their hand on the pulse of the market. We have our hand on the pulse of our members. IAMCP University is a way to marry the two,” said Steinle.
IAMCP, an independent organization of Microsoft-focused partners, has about 700 U.S. partners and 2,300 globally.