“How can I partner with Microsoft if I’m afraid they might eat my lunch?" – Installment 2

In my last post, I shared a couple pearls of Microsoft partnering wisdom, namely: “Be a technology partner first” and “Co-opetition is natural,” and said I would share a few additional insights in my next posts – so here they are:

Advice Tidbit #3: Understand the Microsoft organization. Without guidance, it can take a long time to learn about Microsoft’s company structure, products, strategic direction and how best to interface. You could literally spend years playing “Organizational Twister” – trying to figure out who’s owns each dot, only to find that the size of the mat has changed. Fortunately, there are some good short-cuts. From a technology perspective, you would do yourself a big favor by subscribing to “Directions on Microsoft.” These frequent publications cover numerous aspects of our technologies and even have editions that include an up-to-date executive org-chart. Another great short-cut is to enroll in “Partner MS101.” This course is an introduction to partnering with Microsoft and covers a broad set of topics, ranging from how to interface with our field organization and various corporate groups to numerous collaboration programs. You need to be a managed partner to register, but it’s very worthwhile.

Advice Tidbit #4: Find a Collaboration “Sweet Spot” . When you bring your deep subject matter expertise from serving a vertical industry or handling workflows and processes that are broadly applicable, and understand how that fits with the Microsoft platform, you have a great recipe for partnering. If you exploit an underserved market or raise the functionality bar for an existing application, you may find that our various Microsoft vertical industry groups or product teams are quite eager to talk to you – the key of course is showing how the partnership provides value to both parties. What partners and Microsoft typically want from each other would fall under the general headings of Revenue Generation or Intellectual Property (IP). Revenue can be influenced by a broad spectrum of collaboration from co-branding to joint Go-To-Market activities. IP can (among many other things) speed time to market for product development or reduce development costs by leveraging existing technologies. The Revenue and IP topics are closely joined together and there are shades of gray as to where one starts and the other ends, but you want to include both aspects in analyzing and discussing your business “sweet spot”.

I hope you find this information useful, and I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Karl Dittman, Microsoft Business Development Director