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Microsoft sizes channel opportunity at £9bn

Research shows that customers looking to improve competitiveness will be reaching out to the channel over the course of this year

Microsoft’s channel can play a key role in helping the UK economy recover from the pandemic – and access significant revenues by doing so.

The software giant has worked with Goldsmith’s, University of London, to come up with a study, A blueprint for Microsoft UK partner competitiveness, to size the prize for its UK partners this year.

It builds on the firm’s Creating a blueprint for UK competitiveness, which was released in October and found a £48bn opportunity for UK firms to improve their competitiveness by introducing some small changes.

Breaking that down to reveal implications for the channel has produced a headline-grabbing figure of a potential £9bn opportunity this year generated by Microsoft partners. They can gain £6.74bn of that overall £48bn just by delivering their normal levels of business.

If they focus on strategic areas such as cloud, data analytics and remote work solutions, there is a further £2.34bn on offer, which takes the potential total to £9bn.

“The key here is that Microsoft’s partners are a perfect fit for the idealised model for competitiveness – talent, technology capabilities, expertise, digital skills and adaptability,” said James Chadwick, interim general manager of One Commercial Partner at Microsoft UK. “Our partners are hiring new staff with cutting-edge digital skills, they are using cloud-based technology in innovative ways to solve problems for customers and they actively plan for the future to meet changing trends in the marketplace.

“It’s not just the companies and the economy that benefit; our partners’ success with their customers also drives social growth for the UK, tackling important issues such as diversity, regional equality and digital inclusion.”

Microsoft’s channel has also come through Covid-19 in a position where it can react to customer demand. Research found that more than half of the firm’s channel expected to see an increase in revenues in 2021, and nearly three-quarters also indicated that they plan to hire staff.

Act now

There might be £9bn on offer out in the market, but it comes with a warning that the Microsoft channel must act now to take advantage of those opportunities. The firm has provided a list of actions that it advises partners to take:

  • Collaborate with other members of the Microsoft Partner Network.
  • Invest in agility and change management.
  • Focus on diversity and inclusion.
  • Build automation services.
  • Develop data analytics capabilities.
  • Shore up your security offering.

“The past year has been incredibly challenging for companies of all sizes, and many continue to struggle with disruption and economic uncertainty,” said Chadwick. “As I have seen first-hand, the Microsoft Partner Network can play a crucial role in the UK’s recovery and we are committed to supporting them in this journey.”

Microsoft found that its partners increasingly understood that the evolving customer landscape meant there was a requirement to keep on top of skills.

Brendan Mooney, chief executive at Kainos, said his company had systems in place to make sure it put the business in front of talented prospects.

“Our approach is to attract great people and help them develop the skills they need to succeed – today and tomorrow,” he said. “That has been one of the driving ambitions behind our Academy programme, which supports colleagues to develop skills in a particular system, knowledge area or technical skill, as well as developing professional skills.

“We are also planning to hire around 400 people across the business. As part of this, we will recruit extensively from schools, colleges and universities to ensure that we are attracting the very best new talent.”

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