Microsoft’s Smartest Office 365 Cloud Move of 2014 Arrives Early
Microsoft's (MSFT) smartest cloud computing move of 2014 — announced before 2013 even ends — involves Office 365 channel partners in Australia. Why should the rest of the world care? Glad you asked. Let The VAR Guy explain.
The news: For the first time in Australia, Microsoft partners in 2014 will have the ability to bundle Office 365 with their existing services, ensuring customers see the service as part of their total bill from the partner, according to a blog post from Sophie Corker, a partner marketing lead for Microsoft Australia.
Read between the lines and Microsoft is finally correcting one of its biggest cloud channel partner program blunders. Microsoft had previously given Telstra — a telecommunications giant — exclusive rights in Australia to sell Office 365 to small and medium businesses, notes CRN Australia.
Heads are likely turning in Australia. And the global IT channel should take note. Microsoft over the past two years has gradually refined and enhanced the Office 365 partner program worldwide.
Early missteps took a long time to address. Offerings like Office 365 Open — which allow partners to control end-customer billing — took far too long to arrive, especially when Google Apps has offered such partner capabilities for multiple years. And now — more than two years after launching Office 365 — Microsoft is finally correcting the Telstra-Office365 channel partner debacle in Australia.
Who deserves credit for Microsoft's Office 365 partner sales model change? The VAR Guy has a few theories:
- Former Microsoft Channel Chief Jon Roskill was likely working to address/correct the situation long before he shifted to a new job a few weeks ago. Roskill always listened to partner concerns. Always. And he worked hard to correct them, even when Microsoft executive leadership chased shiny opportunities (Surface, cloud) before formulating official partner strategies.
- Perhaps new Microsoft Channel Chief Phil Sorgen has helped to accelerate the change in Australia. Or perhaps that's an overstatement. Either way, the policy and program change has been announced under Sorgen's watch. So by default, he gets a thumbs up in this blog post.
- Perhaps Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer — who is set to retire within 12 months — cleared up this error in Australia as part of his CEO Bucket List (is CBL an acronym?). Actually, The VAR Guy doubts Ballmer got involved. But our resident blogger had to mention Microsoft's CEO succession strategy simply for the SEO value. (Special greetings to readers who found this blog while looking for the name of Microsoft's Next CEO.)
- Maybe Microsoft Australia Partner Marketing Lead Sophie Corker deserves all the credit. After all, she's on the front lines in Australia and certainly heard constructive criticism from channel partners.
Hmmm… Let's direct credit in the best direction of all — right toward channel partners. Small VARs and MSPs don't have much power when they stand alone. But when they unite and pressure big vendors for change, the change finally happens.
Starting in 2014, Office 365 in Australia is proof of that.