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Microsoft shares progress in getting the channel to embrace AI

Vendor reveals the activity it has inspired in the channel since promoting artificial intelligence with partner programmes last summer

Microsoft has provided an update on how its partner base has embraced artificial intelligence (AI) and announced details of increased support.

The vendor’s latest State of the partner ecosystem update shared details of the impact its moves to step up AI support for its channel have made and revealed a few more designations that should encourage greater activity.

The firm launched its AI Cloud Partner Programme last July and has seen its partner playbook, which suggests where the technology can make a difference with customers, downloaded over 35,000 times. The vendor’s free go-to-market asset, the Era of AI marketing campaign-in-a-box, has also been accessed by partners on 13,250 occasions. 

The number of partners actively selling solutions with Microsoft Azure AI stands at 13,000, serving 53,000 customers. That number is rising, with a 250% increase in the number of generative AI (GenAI) partners in the past eight months.

“When you add that up, it points to a year of exponential innovation and growth for partners, and we are continuing to develop new ways to support this growth curve,” stated Nicole Dezen, chief partner officer and corporate vice-president of global partner solutions at Microsoft, who took to the blogosphere to share an update.

She added that to drive more partner activity around AI, the vendor was introducing several designations on the software, training and small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) front.

The channel can gain a software Solutions Partner designation by focusing on solution areas, including Azure, business applications, modern work and security.

Alternatively, those looking to gain the Solutions Partner status can take a more vertical approach by gaining Industry AI certified status, delivering AI into sectors including healthcare, retail and financial services.

“More than 75 partners with solutions across all five industries and from around the world have participated in the public preview of the designation. There are 49 solutions currently certified, with an additional 27 in progress,” said Dezen.

From 10 April, those in the channel with expertise in delivering AI training services will be able to apply for a designation that indicates to users they are experts in that area.

Finally, in response to channel demand, Microsoft is offering a designation for those that want to specialise in delivering AI to an SME customer base.

“We have seen tremendous progress as partners seize the moment and turn the promise of AI into a reality around the world”
Nicole Dezen, Microsoft

Dezen echoed the views of others across the industry, describing AI as a generational opportunity. She said Microsoft remained committed to making sure partners were in a position to take advantage of the technology.

“We have seen tremendous progress as partners seize the moment and turn the promise of AI into a reality around the world. Today, we have moved from talking about AI to applying AI at scale in ways no one could have imagined just a few months ago,” she said.

Dezen added that the firm was weaving AI into all elements of its tech stack and would be promoting those capabilities to customers and partners to help unlock the benefits of greater efficiencies and data insights.

“Key to making all this a reality are the capabilities, services, product innovation and depth of industry knowledge delivered by our partners. Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. Our partners enable us to deliver on that commitment, in every customer segment, every geography, every day,” she wrote.

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