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Microsoft creates new opportunities for partners through AI offerings and expansion of Microsoft Cloud Partner Program

A version of this article was first published on the Microsoft blog.

We launched the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program last October to meet the changing needs of customers and help our partners succeed. With its robust set of dedicated partner offerings, including new Solutions Partner designations that align to our six commercial solution areas across Azure, Modern Work, Security and Business Applications, we created a place where partners can continue to thrive.

Today, I want to detail some of the new investments we’re making to continue to support more of our partners as they invest with Microsoft, grow their businesses and deliver customer success. These investments, like the Cloud Partner Program itself, are designed to not only help customers navigate new ways of working but also enable partners to differentiate themselves and deliver unique value to the market.

Empowering partners with AI

Partners have long tapped into the power of machine learning and AI using Microsoft’s developer tools and cloud technologies. As the AI landscape continues to evolve, we are committed to bringing the latest tools and resources — all guided by our AI principlesResponsible AI Standard and decades of research — to our partners so that they can continue to deliver innovative solutions for their clients.

Recent AI integrations across Microsoft’s suite of tools present a real opportunity for partners to offer unique innovation, differentiated value and AI expertise to customers.

  • With Bing, better search, more complete answers, and the ability to generate content mean that users can better harness the world’s knowledge.
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 Copilot provides interactive, AI-powered assistance across business functions, relieving the burden of mundane tasks.
  • Microsoft 365 Copilot combines the power of large language models (LLMs) with your data in the Microsoft Graph and the Microsoft 365 apps to turn your words into the most powerful productivity tool on the planet.
  • Today, ChatGPT in Azure Open AI Service enables partners to build predictive models, automate processes and improve decision-making for themselves and their customers. By applying for preview access to GPT-4 in Azure OpenAI Service, partners can start building with OpenAI’s most advanced model yet.
  • The AI and Machine Learning in Microsoft Azure Specialization empowers partners to showcase their expertise in this quickly evolving area of the Microsoft business.

We believe AI will fundamentally change every software category, unlocking a new wave of productivity growth. We are committed to empowering partners to harness the power of this innovation on behalf of customers around the world, while helping them navigate this new era of technology.

Introducing designations for ISV solutions

To help customers identify which partner organizations are best suited to their needs, Microsoft created Solutions Partner designations within the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program. The first available Solutions Partner designations are anchored on the Microsoft Cloud in six solution areas aligned to how Microsoft goes to market. By attaining designations, partners demonstrate their organization’s capabilities in delivering customer success in the solution areas.

Today, we are expanding Solutions Partner designations to include options that differentiate our partners that develop software: our independent software vendor (ISV) partners.

Designations for ISV solutions are aligned to how Microsoft goes to market and how customers are buying: by industry (e.g., finance, retail); by use cases across industries (e.g., security); and by specific imperatives of line-of-business leaders (e.g., marketing and sales). These designations distinguish an application’s specific capabilities and help customers identify proven solutions for their business needs.

To learn more, please visit the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program FAQ and the ISV growth page on our partner website.

Announcing new Business Applications specializations

Specializations continue to provide partners with ways to further differentiate their organization and demonstrate their expertise and experience in specific technical scenarios aligned to the solution areas for project-based services.

Last week, we introduced four Business Application specializations. These new offerings are aligned to the Business Applications solution area for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and make it easier for customers to find partners that possess the expertise they need. The new specializations include:

  • Finance: Designed for partners with demonstrated knowledge, substantive experience and documented success in Dynamics 365 Finance, and that innovate solutions across the financial spectrum.
  • Sales: Available to partners with proven skills in customer experience (CX) transformation and supporting customers’ growth.
  • Service: Developed for partners with experience delivering personalized service, high-quality interactions and seamless, connected experiences at scale.
  • Supply Chain: Open to partners with demonstrated knowledge, substantive experience and documented success in Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, and that innovate solutions across the supply chain spectrum.

With these additions, we now offer a total of 28 specializations, providing partners with flexibility and alignment on where they choose to invest for their business and serve their customer needs. Learn more about these specializations on the Dynamics 365 for Partners blog.

Introducing multiparty private offers

The Microsoft commercial marketplace is the most partner-focused business platform in the industry and is dedicated to helping partners reach more customers, simplify sales and unlock growth.

To help partners unlock the power of the commercial marketplace, we will soon be offering multiparty private offers. Multiparty private offers empower partners to come together, create personalized offers with custom payouts and sell directly to Microsoft customers with simplified selling through the marketplace. And for customers with a cloud consumption commitment, every dollar of the sale will count toward their commitment when they purchase solutions that are Azure IP co-sell eligible. Multiparty private offers will enter private preview this spring and be made publicly available in the near future. In addition, we’re continuing to expand the ways that partners can package and sell their solutions.  In the coming months, we will give partners the ability to transact containers and VM software reservations through our commercial marketplace.

Coming soon: Designations for training and support services

Set to launch later this year, Solutions Partner designations for training services and support services will enable customers to quickly identify partners that have met the requirements, including demonstrating their customer success.

The Solutions Partner designation for training services will recognize a partner’s capabilities aligned to performance, quality of training and a minimum of one solution area. The Solutions Partner designation for support services will build on the solution area designations and highlight a partner’s breadth of and excellence in support capabilities.

Badging for both designations will help partners differentiate their organizations with customers and in the Microsoft commercial marketplace.

Highlighting diverse-led and social impact businesses in the marketplace

Inclusion fosters innovation, and many customers are looking to find partners that align to their business values. This is why we are enabling partners to submit relevant diversity and social impact business classifications in Partner Center, which will appear in their business profile in the marketplace. By building this information into our system, it’s easy for customers to discover diverse-led businesses and their solution offerings in the commercial marketplace and through our co-sell channels.

On April 19, Microsoft will also hold a virtual Commercial Marketplace Impact Event for diverse and minority-owned partner businesses, as well as partners with social impact solutions (e.g., sustainability, accessibility, nonprofit) focused on educating those partners on opportunities to accelerate their growth through the Microsoft commercial marketplace.

More on the horizon

Microsoft, partners are fundamental to our success. We’re committed to investing in our ecosystem to enable partners to further differentiate their expertise, collaborate on deals through the commercial marketplace, and position themselves to meet an expanding range of customer and industry needs.

This commitment to our partners’ success is unwavering. With our rich product and platform road map, Microsoft will continue to help our partners do even more to enable digital transformation and drive business growth and profitability.

As we look ahead, we are focused on ensuring partners have the skills, tools, and resources they need to compete — and win — in delivering innovative solutions that drive customer success.

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