Microsoft will expand its “industry cloud” strategy of marketing packages of cloud-related services and products to particular business verticals with new packages aimed at three additional industries.
The company hopes that partners can use the new industry cloud offerings to better target financial services providers, manufacturers and nonprofits and speed up the sales process.
“When we think about that time-to-value aspect of this, the partners are super critical in making that come to life,” said Deb Cupp, Microsoft corporate vice president of enterprise and commercial industries, in an interview with CRN.
The packages –Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing, and Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit–bring together existing Microsoft products and services with some features that are tailored the needs, security standards and compliance coverage demanded by each industry, Cupp said.
The industry cloud offerings will pull from the Azure cloud platform, Microsoft 365 (including the Teams collaboration app), the Power Platform, Dynamics 365 and other Microsoft products and services. The packages could help partners to entice new customers and act as an onramp to introduce customers to a broader portfolio of Microsoft cloud services, Cupp said.
Microsoft’s industry cloud approach can help to bring capabilities from multiple products and services to customers in one package, easing the adoption and rollout for both partners and customers, said Matt Dierolf, enterprise architect at Blue Bell, Pa.-based Anexinet.
For a solution provider like Anexinet, a Microsoft Gold Partner and No. 212 on CRN’s Solution Provider 500 for 2020, vertical-focused packages can help with breaking into unfamiliar industries, Dierolf said. That’s especially the case if a potential customer isn’t seeking a highly customized product or service, he said.
The ability to provide industry-specific cloud packages “gives us an immediate competitive advantage,” and could ultimately help partners to land customers in new verticals, Dierolf said.
Luis Alvarez, the CEO of Salinas, Calif.-based solution provider Alvarez Technology Group, said he also sees how a vertical-focused package can be a marketing advantage for channel partners.
“You have a narrative that’s been curated for you,” Alvarez said. “You already have the talking points and know the benefits.”
The industry cloud offerings should increase the potential for partners to sell across multiple product lines to customers, though the packages will allow for customization of which Microsoft products and services they adopt, said Alysa Taylor, corporate vice president of business applications and global industry for Microsoft.
“If you’re a retailer, you may want to light up new commerce capabilities to enable things like curbside pickup and contactless shopping,” Taylor said in an interview with CRN. “But you might not want to use our ad assets because you have your own ad platform. So we’ve designed them to be very modular at a departmental level.”
Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, for example, will use multiple Microsoft products and services to help financial services providers upsell and cross-sell to their customers, provide self-service tools and automate tasks to speed up the lending process.
The newly announced offerings bring the number of Microsoft industry clouds to five. They follow the announcement of Microsoft Cloud for Retail in January and the debut of Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare in general availability this past fall.
In March, the industry cloud offerings for retail and financial services are expected to exit private preview — when Microsoft provides access to a limited number of customers and partners — and enter public preview, during which time more customers and partners can evaluate the offerings.
By the end of June, the industry cloud offerings for manufacturing and nonprofits should enter public preview.
In a video address provided to the media, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the industry cloud offerings are designed to cut across the different silos within a customer’s business.
“Each offering is designed to work as one seamless solution and to enable cross-industry workflows,” Nadella said in the address. “For example, retailers and manufacturers can work across clouds to manage inventory and production in real time from shelf to warehouse to factory.”
Microsoft is not the only major cloud provider taking a vertical-focused approach. Google Cloud, for example, offers industry-specific packages for financial services, health care, manufacturing and industrial, the public sector, retail, and media, telecommunications and entertainment.