As Microsoft’s quest for world domination continues it has a problem which is also one of its greatest assets: its channel. Historically to be a Microsoft NAV partner meant to enjoy a close reciprocal relationship with the local Navision (and later Microsoft) office – some partners even managed to hold on to the same account manager for several years (yes, that did really happen!).
This was fantastic from a relationship perspective but providing this level of account management is a costly and unwieldy way to get your software to the masses. All that headcount and CAPEX doesn’t tie in with a high volume, mass market sales approach. As a result, Microsoft has tried over the years to break the need and expectation for account management, usually by creating ever more inventive ways to tier partners, but it obviously hasn’t had the desired effect as we’ve now seen the introduction of the MasterVAR programme for the UK which I see as a way of establishing a version of the ‘classic Microsoft’ distribution model for the Dynamics community.
Feedback from the partners I have spoken to so far has been mixed and is heavily weighted by the relationship the partner currently enjoys. At one end some NAV consultancies think it’s an unfriendly move and they’re being advised to pay twice for services they already receive; but at the other end there are partners excited about the prospect of having a knowledgeable person to speak to and learn from, rather than an outsourced help-desk where every interaction is driven by a service request.
It’s still early days, but to me this is a real line in the sand and one that I think Microsoft is unlikely to retreat from unless there’s a channel mutiny.
What do you think? Is it the right move or is Microsoft double-crossing its strongest allies?
Look me up at WPC in Washington – I’d love to talk.
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