Microsoft has added a ninth partner specialisation as it works to deploy the revamped next-generation channel program announced last October.
Kerstin Baxter, partner group director at Microsoft Australia, said Microsoft was adding
a Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) 'competency' for partners selling Microsoft business software, such as ERP and CRM.
'At the moment, we do have multiple different types of partner agreements for MBS partners and many are also Microsoft partners in other areas, so we're now consolidating it,' she said. 'All the offerings, benefits, all those types of things, we're starting to put it all together.'
Baxter said MBS partners would need technical certification around the products they represent and three customer references.
'In the past, they had to pay for a support program as well, so we will consolidate it,' she said. 'For new partners, that will actually save money.'
They would get similar access as other partners to online benefits, she said, and offerings tailored specifically to MBS partners, such as MBS sales training.
From 1 July, partners selling products in the Microsoft Business Solutions category have a year to meet the requirements for the new specialisation.
However, Microsoft was trying to ensure it did not re-complicate the new incarnation of its partner program, which had been promoted as a simpler, clearer way for partners to work with the company, she said.
'We try to simplify it as well,' Baxter said.
Microsoft was also introducing a 'Solution Provider Agreement' for MBS partners.
The vendor claims it will provide more uniform, global terms and conditions for resellers who don't qualify for the MBS competency.
Partners can stay on their current reseller agreements until July 2005 or sign the new Solution Provider Agreement in July 2004.
The agreement comprises authorisation criteria, 'competitive revenue opportunities' and distribution rights for MBS ERP software and services for those not offered in volume licensing or exclusively through distributors.
'We see MBS as a high-growth area,' Baxter said. 'Next year, all our ERP products will have had new releases.'
Several more partner competencies may in future be announced. Likely categories include software asset management and licensing and OEM hardware, Baxter said.