Microsoft Expands Partner Opportunities for Information Worker Business
Microsoft Corp. today kicked off its Worldwide Partner Conference 2007 (WPC), showcasing the growth of partner opportunities across the company along with an announcement by Corporate Vice President Chris Capossela about a set of new and updated programs and opportunities for partners that team up with Microsoft to deliver Information Worker solutions.
Partner opportunities span solutions built on the 2007 Microsoft® Office system platform and extend to new products and programs in areas such as unified communications (UC), business intelligence, Software plus Services and Office Business Applications (OBAs). Key announcements include an updated Microsoft Office Live Solution Developers program, a new Microsoft OBA OnRamp program and new Desktop and SharePoint® Deployment Planning Services programs.
“Microsoft Office has become a premier platform for industry partners that develop customer solutions based on our desktop applications, our servers and our services,” said Capossela, corporate vice president, Information Worker Product Management at Microsoft. “Partners across the board are seeing that Microsoft Office has tremendous potential as a platform for unified communications and collaboration, enterprise search, enterprise content management, workflow, compliance and business intelligence solutions. We hope these programs will help our valued partners capitalize on many new areas of business opportunity.”
Capossela, a keynote speaker at this year’s WPC, noted that the launch of the 2007 Microsoft Office system has fueled extensive growth in Microsoft’s Information Worker (IW) partner ecosystem. Today more than 5,000 partners meet the IW competency, up from 3,600 at WPC 2006.
Partners Betting on SharePoint Server 2007 for Search
Key new areas such as enterprise search have been especially successful: As of today, more than 3,500 partners are enrolled in the Quickstart for Microsoft Search partner program. Quickstart, introduced at WPC 2006, provides partners with an easy way to obtain knowledge, build skills and win early customers with Microsoft search technologies. Microsoft-registered partners need only their Microsoft partner ID to log on to the Quickstart for Microsoft Search extranet at http://www.quickstartmicrosoftsearch.com. From there they are given access to training, community resources and an awards program.
Among the growing number of partners that are developing new enterprise search tools on the SharePoint platform is BearingPoint Inc., a leader in providing information management and search solutions. BearingPoint announced today that it is now offering the SingleView solution, a search-enabled application that helps Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 customers easily access information from across a variety of enterprise repositories, structured databases, and unstructured content libraries. BearingPoint’s SingleView illustrates how forward-thinking consultancies are leveraging enterprise search to grow their broader business by providing clients with innovative and cost-effective solutions.
New Products Spell Increased Opportunities
Microsoft also envisions increased partner opportunities from its unified communications products, which include Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Microsoft Office Communicator 2007, which will help partners tap into an opportunity estimated to reach more than $45 billion by 2010. To help partners take advantage of this growing market, Microsoft has created a new UC specialization available under the IW competency in the Microsoft Partner Program. In March, Microsoft president Jeff Raikes predicted that within three years, voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) solutions will cost roughly half of what they do today; and in that same time frame, more than 100 million people will be able to make phone calls from Microsoft Office Outlook® 2007, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and other Microsoft Office system applications.
New Opportunities in Services-Based Solutions
Software plus Services solutions offer partners a wide variety of opportunities, with solutions for which Microsoft software is delivered to customers on their own premises and hosted by Microsoft or by partners. As an example, Microsoft Office Live provides developers with access to more than 400,000 small businesses, a previously hard-to-reach demographic. To reach this market segment, Microsoft Office Live is updating its partner program to include new programs such as the Microsoft Office Live Marketplace, the new Microsoft Office Live Affiliate Network and greater access to the Microsoft Office Live customer base.
OBAs Made Easy With New Partner Program
Capossela also demonstrated the huge momentum behind Office Business Applications, solutions that connect Microsoft Office desktop applications to back-end systems, with the announcement of the multimillion-dollar OBA OnRamp program. With more than 50 early participants, the program is designed to further accelerate partners’ creation of OBAs. It offers a combination of technical resources, marketing assistance and sales acceleration for partners, and will be available through an online marketplace and community Web site called OBACentral at http://www.obacentral.com.
Ecma Office Open XML Opens Up Opportunities
In related news at WPC, Microsoft announced that more than 1,150 partners representing approximately 50 countries on six continents have actively registered their support for Ecma Office Open XML, the default file format for Office desktop applications. Among them, Linux platform developers Novell Inc., Linspire Inc., Turbolinux and Xandros Inc. have also pledged their support to the creation of Open XML – ODF (OpenDocument Format) translator tools that will make it possible for organizations around the world to utilize the format that best suits their needs. As a fully documented, open international standard, the Ecma Open XML formats enable partners to easily interchange data between the desktop applications and backend processes and data stores.
New Partner Programs for High-Touch Customer Service
As part of Microsoft’s commitment to providing partners with the right set of resources to support customer needs, Microsoft has invested $5 million in a limited-time program called IW Partner Skills Accelerator. The program is available to Information Worker-certified partners from Aug. 15, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2007, and includes online technical learning courses to inform partners about the 2007 capabilities as they map to the nine IW competencies.
Microsoft is also launching a new Desktop Deployment Planning Services (DDPS) program and SharePoint Deployment Planning Services (SDPS) program designed to help partners scale more quickly and realize improved return on their solution investments. DDPS is available now, and SDPS is scheduled to be available in January 2008 as part of Microsoft’s Software Assurance program. Microsoft believes that deployment of a customer’s desktop/server infrastructure is critical to solution success, making it an excellent business opportunity for systems integrators. With these new programs, Microsoft helps compensate program-certified partners to deliver customized deployment plans to eligible customers, helping to open the door to ongoing revenue opportunities.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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