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The New Face of the Microsoft Partner Network

For nearly a decade, the Microsoft Partner Program, as it was known, was synonymous with Allison Watson, its popular and accomplished leader. Then, right before this year's Worldwide Partner Conference, Microsoft moved Watson out of her post.

With just one week to prepare for the WPC, Watson's replacement, Jonathan Roskill, was suddenly on stage last month in Washington, D.C., serving as the new face of what is now the Microsoft Partner Network and attempting to calm the fears of many members of Microsoft's massive channel.

How well did he do? It's still too early to say. But there's no question that as Microsoft reshapes its partner program and transitions (or, in some cases, drags) partners toward the cloud, Roskill will face what might be the most daunting on-the-job training of his career. With 600,000-plus members, the Microsoft Partner Network effectively represents Microsoft's sales force, and there is grumbling within the ranks about some of Redmond's recent changes and proclamations.  

In the August issue of RCP the magazine, Scott Bekker and Jeff Schwartz look at the biggest challenges facing Roskill, how he can manage them and what partners should expect from him. The transitioning MPN and cloud technologies figure heavily into the list, as you might imagine.

Microsoft generally has a pretty good track record of appointing executives, and big changes in leadership are not at all unusual in the company. That's part of the reason why Watson's tenure -- a relatively lengthy eight years -- and her departure were both something of a surprise.

She had the opportunity to get settled into a position as few Microsoft honchos can, and her shift away from the MPN has left Roskill with a tough act to follow. In fact, he'll have to lead, not follow, if he's going to succeed in his new post. The old warning about living in "interesting times" seems very appropriate right now. We'll have to see just how interesting things get for partners and for Roskill.

What's your take on new leadership in the MPN? Send it to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 08/04/2010 at 1:23 PM


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