It's a software plus services world after all

Think about this: At Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference 2008, which was held this week in the heat and humidity of Houston, 7,500 partners from 145 countries were in attendance. You’ve got to admit, that's impressive.

With 1.4 million partner companies worldwide encompassing nearly 10 million individuals (how do they count this stuff?), what happens here affects, well, just about everyone.

In his keynote address, CEO Steve Ballmer reiterated the company’s commitment to delivering innovation through the enormous partner network.

“Partners have always been central to how we meet our customers’ needs, and they are at the heart of our approach to software plus services.” Ballmer said. “I believe there are incredible opportunities for our partners to provide value to customers in the software plus services era.”

And there’s the key. The future, according to Ballmer and Allison Watson, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group is all about software plus services.

“We have researched how software and services are combining to create new and compelling economic business models for Microsoft partners,” said Watson.

In other words, get on the bus or get run over by it.

Fortunately, you won’t be left dangling. Microsoft is starting to release tools to help you conquer what the company calls software plus services:

  • Software Plus Services Partner Evolution Interactive Guide. This interactive guide provides prescriptive guidance to partners thinking of transitioning to a software-plus-services-based business. Leveraging an attribute-based, navigational Web environment, the Software Plus Services Partner Evolution Interactive Guide uses a common taxonomy framework for partners to think about their business today and identify how to add a profitable services practice. The guide provides key performance indicators to convey the potential benefits to the partner’s business, and includes real-world case studies, analyst-led videos and a link to a profitability modeling tool as supporting evidence. Partners can access the Software Plus Services Partner Evolution Interactive Guide.
  • Software Plus Services Profitability Modeler. The new Software Plus Services Profitability Modeler helps partners understand what new business opportunities can mean for their business — including software-plus-services-based models. It provides partners with real-world profit and loss financial estimates (revenues, costs, margins, net income and cash flow) based on key Microsoft-identified solution scenarios, and lets partners customize their P&L estimates to model their business. It also provides strategic guidance with a next-steps decision framework. In addition, Microsoft announced two new Partner Profitability benchmarks, one each for Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online solution scenarios. The new Partner Profitability Modeler and Profitability Benchmarks are available to partners .

There’s a lot more happening at the conference, and we’re posting details.

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