Ask Me Anything Topic: Partner Learning
Introducing Mary Sutton. Mary is the Partner Learning Platform and Tools Lead at Microsoft, where she focuses on improvements to the partner learning experience across the many sites where partners find training content. Mary manages Partner University and the Learning Portal site; she also runs a Focus Group for training managers in partner organizations, to obtain feedback on Microsoft’s training for partners.
Please ask Mary any questions on this thread from February 21-28 and she will respond on the 28th; the top kudoed questions will be answered first.
This AMA is live February 28th 7-11am PST.
To ensure you do not forget, please download the calendar invite here.
When will the categories of the classes in the Partner University get configured so that they are actually helpful? For example, having a Category for Product, Standards and Technology names is not useful, nor is Azure (because it is too broad). Trying to use the Narrow by feature is not helpful either. Choosing Dynamics Online, and then Version gives a choice of Marketing, which makes no sense.
The metadata assigned to the courses needs to be totally redone.
Hi @Anonymous! It looks like your question was posted afer the AMA window had closed. I will reach out to Mary Sutton to see about getting your question answered! Thanks for posting!
Partners are learning in different ways today than in the past. Can you tell us what has changed in the way partners focus in their skills development? And what do you expect to change going forward?
Hello, Per - thanks for your question. Yes: people are exploring different ways to learn now. The realities of budget and time impact the training decisions partners make. For instance, here in the U.S., we're seeing fewer partner companies able to spend $$ to send their people to onsite/in-person training across the country. This means companies like Microsoft need to be ready with the right virtual and digital learning experiences. We try to do this via interactive webinars, courses that offer labs online, etc.
Also it's a reality that roles drive the type of training partners want to consume. "Generalist" partner sellers must spend their time selling; they don't have time to sit at a desk for 8 hours of virtual learning and they rarely step away from their jobs for in-person training. For generalist sellers, "just in time" short video-based content is ideal so that they can quickly absorb what they need and go. We are shaping our Microsoft 365 Sales learning paths to meet their needs. Also managers tell me they are sending their technical sellers to digest our new Pluralsight courses, which are video-based content designed to provide real-world job-based technical skills. These sellers can consume at their own pace and maybe spend a portion of their day absorbing the digital content - while still having time to do their jobs.
When I say that roles drive the type of training partners want to consume, we are seeing a lot of interest among Technical specialists in MOOC training (MOOC stands for Massively Open Online Courses). These are in-depth digital technical learning experiences (open to many concurrent learners) involving content designed to be consumed over a period of weeks, with labs to support the learning and tests along the way. Technical specialists will devote many hours to this type of learning experience in order to prepare to pass Microsoft certification exams.
In the future, MIcrosoft needs to figure out how "mixed reality" training environments might look for our learners, and the format changes we might need to make, to deliver that type of experience.
Does this address your question? Thank you.
These are the trends and realities we're seeing.
A great reply that addresses my question. As an advisor and investor meeting many partners I share your thinking and I think that you're spot on.
I have a few questions related to people (and companies) that are new to the Microsoft partner model and ecosystem. I am particuraly interested because I am heavily recommending that Microsoft helps new companies get started on the Microsoft path. Whether they are recent graduates looking for a career path or looking to build a company or even if they are recently "retired" people that are looking to invest their time, energy and effort into something new.
- What's the best place for someone that is new to the Microsoft partner model and ecosystem to start?
- Do the Partner University resources provide guidance for WHAT kind of partner to be?
Notably, some don't know what an ISV or SI are and/or how Microsoft supports them.
- Is there some sort of a quick guide to help newbies understand the Microsoft partner landscape and how they might want to fit in?
Hello, Jshuey. I think the most important questions to start with, in guiding someone who's new to the Microsoft Partner Network ecosystem, is to learn what business their company focuses on, and what they want to accomplish with Microsoft. We have created new "Build a Practice" pages on the MPN portal that will help guide partners through those decisions: https://partner.microsoft.com/en-us/business-opportunities/build-a-practice. Feel free to point people to that link.
If a person is interested in specific Microsoft solutions (like Azure or solutions by industry), this is the place on the MPN portal to direct that person to: https://partner.microsoft.com/en-us/solutions
I hope this is helpful. Thank you for your questions.
Karen's intial post states that you run a focus group for training managers in partner organizations. Could you explain the process for joining this focus group? I would greatly appreciate providing feedback over the MSFT training needs for my organization.
Hello again, Peter. I am always looking for partners who are passionate about training, to join our Focus Group. The Group features a good cross-section of partner orgs large and small, and a cross-section of managers who care about both Technical and Sales training. I will typically correspond with the Focus Group via email, and I'll schedule Skype meetings for us when I need their guidance on new plans or changes we're making (to training content; to the Learning Portal layout; etc.). Members of the Focus Group join these meetings at their convenience. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can discuss further. And thank you for your interest!
Thank you for taking and responding questions about Partner training. My organization participates in the Cloud Solution Partner (CSP) program, and as such, we use a variety of enablement training including what's available through the Partner University. Since we started in the program, we have advised our sales teams to complete the Azure Sales Specialist Assessment (Enterprise) (MPN8186) accreditation, which has been available now for a few years. Could you speak to the current status of the accreditation / training (currently is available but the learningportal shows it was to retire on January 31)? Additionally, could you speak to whether there will be an updated or replacement accreditation sales training for Azure?
Hi, Peter. Thanks for your question! You’re right; we had to retire that course + assessment, as it was extremely outdated. It was one of our most popular Sales courses so it pained me to retire it. We are working now on building new training to replace it. I have received a lot of partner feedback (mostly from Sales managers and training managers) about the need for Azure training targeted to *generalist* sellers (think Level 50 and Level 100). Today Microsoft creates quite a bit of content targeted to technical, dedicated sellers – but not much for non-dedicated sellers. We are taking this partner feedback seriously in our planning for the new content. The new training will be one track at Level 50 and one track at Level 100: video-based, with assessments/knowledge checks. We’d appreciate your help with participating in the design process and/or piloting it, if you’re willing. If you’re interested, please send me email at email@example.com.