Microsoft to establish Enterprise Partner Group

Microsoft Corp. is poised to establish an Enterprise Partner Group that will focus its energies on bringing several preferred partners into closer proximity to the Redmond, Wash.-based company’s overall operations by offering more support to these outfits.

The group, to be established on July 1, 2002 will be responsible for liasing with the company’s managed enterprise partners, including systems integrators, independent software vendors (ISVs), large account resellers (LARs) and direct market resellers.

The undertaking is the first organized unit of its kind in Canada and is expected to consist of 25 account managers; in the U.S., a managed partner group has already been created.

“Our goal is to provide more focus on our partners to develop relationships. We do have our top six systems integrators, and we will have a concerted focus on working on those relationships as a priority,” said Lasha Dekker, director of enterprise partners for Microsoft in Mississauga, Ont. Dekker will lead the group and also direct the company’s anti-piracy efforts.

The corporate shift would most likely impact large account resellers and direct market resellers, she added.

Microsoft’s business model is built on the integration of partners at several levels, from large consulting firms to smaller, local service providers. Currently, Microsoft enjoys various IT relationships within the Canadian marketplace with Web content providers, Web and application service providers, non-PC device manufactures and large systems integrators. According to Microsoft, there are more than 1,500 solutions providers and 15,000 resellers that are part of the company’s channel networks.

The top systems integrators in Canada that will be most affected by the announcement include Accenture, Cap Gemini, Ernst & Young, PwC, EDS, CGI and Deloitte Consulting. She added that part of Microsoft’s corporate mandate is fewer partnerships – something this group will not feel the ill effects of – but rather to give its elite partners additional support.

But the message of Microsoft’s strategy remains obscured because while Dekker said the shift is intended to provide a greater focus on its partners and customers, she admitted that part of the objective is to bring the much larger group of LARs, VARs and the like closer to the main fold.

“We are trying to bring them in but really from an engagement perspective. How can we leverage these partners and the solutions they create for our customers?” she asked.

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