Microsoft has a new channel chief
Jon Roskill is Microsoft's new worldwide channel chief. He replaces the unforgettable  Allison Watson after eight years on the job. (CDN's Jeff Jedras has full coverage, including analyst and partner reaction.) Watson, in my opinion, has entered legendary status in the channel. Her raw-raw motivational approach was infectuous. I did not meet one solution provider who did not like her. Watson's track record of accomplishments will be tough to match for Roskill or anyone else for that matter.
Consider this: Under Watson's watch Microsoft launched a new Partner Network Program in Toronto. This program has been praised by solution providers, other vendors and the media as one of the best channel programs in the market place.
When companies were cutting back including Microsoft Watson managed to get more than $2 billion from  the software giant  in investment for the channel.
Watson launched many successful programs such as ISV Royalty Program, ISV Buddy Program, Channel Builder, Small Business Specialist, Open Value Licensing program, and QuickStart for Microsoft Online Services to name a few.
She helped to build online tools and portals such as ISV Community on MSDN, Partner Learning Center, Partner Channel Builder, Partner Marketing Center, online lead generation and PinPoint, a unified online business portal.
Watson kick started events such as ISV Community Days, the ISV Show and Demo Showcase.
When partners were looking for help or more resources Watson delivered by significantly increasing its partner account managers or PAMs and crafting Software+Services blueprints for partners.
Watson wasn't afraid to make changes to her channel program masterpiece also. When SaaS started to build momentum in 2007 Watson sharpened her pencil and enhanced the partner program to address the new trend.
Last year Watson revamped the Partner Network program under three pillars: capability, customers and connections, along with a seachange move for Gold partners.
She even addressed the poor economy but adding more financing for partners in 25 countries Microsoft does business with.
Recently Watson created a cloud strategy for partners called the Business Productivity Online Standard suite (BPOS).
From an outsider's point of view it looked as if Watson fought tooth-and-nail for every channel partner; and Microsoft claims to have 640,000 of them. And, she did it all with a smile.
But as I analyze these two moves I see them both as lateral. Now I can't be certain but when you look at Microsoft organiational chart Roskill will now report to the senior VP of worldwide Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners (SMS&P) Group who happens to be Vahé Torossian. Torossian reports to the senior VP, Microsoft Business Solutions and that executive reports to the president, Business Division Jeff Raikes. Raikes reports to CEO Steve Ballmer.
Watson in her new role will report to Robert Youngjohns, the senior vice president of North America Sales & Marketing. Youngjohns reports to the COO Kevin Turner. Turner reports to Ballmer. Watson is one layer closer to the top than Roskill. On the other hand, Watson is leaving a worldwide role for a U.S. position and vice versa for Roskill.
If this is Turner's decision then there isn't much Watson can do about it. An executive may have a fantastic job; a job he or she does not  want to leave, but if the boss wants to make a switch that executive usually follows orders. This could be the situation for Watson.
Its too bad for the partner community. Like I said earlier Watson is a true channel advocate and has the unique ability to align her company's goals with that of the partners for mutual success.
I wish her all the best. I also wish Roskill all the best because he will have huge shoes to fill.
One quick hit before I go. IT World Canada, my employer, has a new president in Fawn Annan. She replaces Andy White who passed on late last year.

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