Microsoft and CGI partner to provide training, support

Microsoft Corporation and CGI have formed a three-year enterprise alliance, which will include a marketing partnership to increase revenue in the U.S. market.

CGI, a Montreal-based company, is an independent firm that offers a range of IT services including systems integration, outsourcing and consulting services.

Under the new partnership, Microsoft will provide CGI with software, development and support services, while CGI will train a minimum of 500 new Microsoft Certified Engineers, database administrators and developers. These personnel, in turn, will design, develop and implement business solutions.

“The strategy is that they build their skills,” said Bob Tuttle, director of sales, Microsoft Canada. “And then we regionally, across North America, will engage with them with customers, in trying to deliver better solutions to the customer marketplace.”

The companies will be targeting specific verticals through the alliance.

“We’re going to market together with CGI in some very specific enterprise markets,” Tuttle said. “The financial services area, specifically casualty property insurance and retail banking, the telecom area and within government.”

The alliance also will include some joint-marketing strategies, which is something that will definitely be key for CGI, according to Lars Goransson, director of professional services and outsourcing research, IDC Canada.

“That’s one area that’s probably going to be very helpful. CGI’s marketing is, frankly, non-existent,” Goransson said. “People just don’t know CGI outside of Quebec, although it’s improving. But their branding, or awareness among Canadian executives outside of Quebec is really poor. And it’s clearly even worse in the U.S.”

But this alliance will change that, according to Jean Brassard, president and chief operating officer, CGI. With this partnership, he says CGI will have access to new customers in a different market.

“We think that working with Microsoft, doing marketing together, it means that we will have a good way to develop our leadership in the U.S. market,” he said. “We’re not so large in the U.S. market compared to the Canadian one – the Canadian market, the Canadian company – but we think that with Microsoft in the U.S. it will be a good way to put our foot in the door.”

Ultimately, Goransson believes that this alliance is a sign of things to come.

“It speaks to the future strategy of becoming more partner-centric,” he said. “And they (CGI) will probably team up with a number of players around the customer relationship management space, supply-chain integration, e-commerce…that’s really where this Microsoft alliance will fit in as well.”