Conference emphasises the heightened importance of partner network

Microsoft aims to help partners through the recession

Microsoft used its Partner Network conference yesterday to highlight the importance of its partners in its ongoing strategy to growing market share and competing to win.

Although a fair amount of time was given to the benefits and new features available to Windows 7 users, the overall emphasis of the conference seemed to centre on the continuing recession and how businesses can prosper by selling Microsoft products.

The opening speech was made by general manager for small and medium enterprise Scott Dodds, who made it clear that from Microsoft’s viewpoint the recession is going to lead to a sustained period of slow growth for the overall market, which will require an aggressive policy of taking market share from other businesses. He also made it clear that Microsoft needs the support of its ‘extended family’ of partners to do so.

“We’re thinking more clearly about what partners need to do to drive their businesses forward,” Dodds commented during a Q&A session. “We’re listening more to our partners. We as a business haven’t been doing enough to sell above and beyond our basic proposition. We all need to be clearer about the benefits that Microsoft products can bring to the end-user.”

Most of the conference continued to highlight the benefits of selling Microsoft products during a time of recession and slow growth.

Guest speaker Anthony Hilton, financial editor of the Evening Standard warned of at least two more difficult years, although he did said that a benefit of it was that a recession “gets rid of the idiots.” UK managing director Gordon Frazer pointed out the advantages of Microsoft partnership, while the UK director of commercial market strategy Nick McGrath called for partners to do more to up-sell and cross-sell Microsoft’s extensive portfolio.

During later Q&A sessions with key partners, anchor speaker George Alagiah of Channel 4 News fame encouraged delegates to discuss current problems and make suggestions for improvement. Whether this was just Mr. Alagiah’s inner journalist, or an actual effort by Microsoft to learn something from the conference remains to be seen.

Many attendees seemed happy with their heightened status in Microsoft’s forward strategy, although most were keen to add the proviso ‘as long as it continues.’

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