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Microsoft reaches out to Russia & CIS channel

by Stuart Wilson, Tuesday 3 July 2012

Microsoft was Silver Sponsor at last month’s DISTREE Russia & CIS event, which took place in St. Petersburg. At the end of the event, Channel EMEA caught up with Dana Manciagli, general manager worldwide ODR-OEM distribution and reseller channel at Microsoft, to find out more about the vendor’s participation and interaction with the 700-plus channel executives in attendance.

Channel EMEA (CE): You’ve had many meetings with channel partners from across the region during DISTREE Russia & CIS. What are the key points you’re taking away from the event?

Dana Manciagli (DM): During the meetings I have had with distributors, retailers and resellers at DISTREE Russia & CIS, I have been very impressed with the levels of knowledge in the market. All the partners have had a clear focus on growth and continued innovation in terms of their sales and marketing approach.

The growth that is happening in Russia is what we anticipated, but partners have even greater growth targets, and they are becoming more sophisticated in how they approach the market. Many channel partners in Russia are already selling online via e-commerce and not just through a live sales force – and this is something that can really help their profitability.

Microsoft cares about creating a healthy channel ecosystem in Russia. We want channel partners to grow and develop in a healthy and sustainable way for the next five years, not just now.

CE: You have a global remit at Microsoft. How does what you’re seeing in the Russian market – in terms of challenges and opportunities – fit alongside that bigger picture?

DM: There are similar growth rates to Russia elsewhere in the world, but what I have seen from partners in Russia is that are really ready to execute on this market potential. They are keen to continue the fight against software piracy and they are also reaching out to some of the more remote regions in the country and building channel reach. There is a relatively developed market in the Moscow area but it is contained inside a vast emerging market that represents the rest of Russia.

What has surprised me is the strength of the commercial space for Microsoft solutions in Russia. We often end up focusing on retail and exciting new consumer products, but there is real strength in the commercial space in Russia – be that SME, enterprise or education. The channel partners have an excellent understanding of the commercial market potential in Russia and that creates real possibilities for technologies such as virtualisation. We are very positive about the commercial segment in Russia.

CE: You mentioned piracy. Is this still a major issue in the Russian market? Is progress being made?

DM: Russia has made a sizeable improvement against piracy than in other emerging markets. The partners have done a great job communicating the value of genuine software and have delivered on the promise of the security benefits [of genuine software].

There is still some piracy in Russia but it is limited to some small local white box assemblers. In this space there is a real opportunity for the channel to go out and fix this.

Every member of the channel - every company - has a role to play in selling and communicating the benefits of genuine software. It is most important for the channel partner that is touching the end-user to convert them from using pirated software – that’s where the magic happens.

CE: You’ve been telling delegates about the pipeline for new Microsoft product and solution launches this year. What has the reaction been like for the local channel?

DM: The attendees at DISTREE Russia & CIS have learnt what a big year 2012 is in terms of upcoming Microsoft launches. There is real excitement in the market and partners have been asking for more information on Windows 8. We will be making more information available to them as soon as we can.

The tablet market is set to grow incredibly fast in Russia. We have been listening to retailers and their challenges in terms of educating their sales staff and keeping them up to date on the latest technology. This is a challenge with so many new Windows 7 devices coming out and also the fact that there can be high turnover of sales staff. We’re definitely committed to putting in more resources in terms of preparing and readying [Russian] channel partners to sell.

CE: How are you helping ready the local channel for Windows 8?

DM: In terms of Windows 8, we think that it is very important to experience the Windows 8 Release Preview. Everyone in the Russian channel should download it right now and use it to learn about Windows 8 and how to demonstrate it to customers. Go get it.

It’s available for download now and end-users have already downloaded it in record numbers. Channel partners should too so they will be ready to sell it. The biggest opportunity for growth right now is selling the innovative hardware devices running Windows 7 with the Windows 8 upgrade offer. This is the on ramp to the Windows 8 freeway. Sell the innovation that already exists today with a Windows 8 upgrade offer.


WATCH Microsoft’s keynote presentation at DISTREE Russia & CIS

About DISTREE Russia & CIS

DISTREE Russia & CIS is the region’s premier annual channel event for vendors looking to manage, build or launch channels in this strategically important market. Leading retailers, resellers and distributors from across Russia & CIS attend the event, allowing vendors to accelerate their channel development and drive business success acrossRussia & CIS.

DISTREE Russia & CIS operates a unique business model based on an ‘invitation only’ event format, offering a compelling mix of pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings, keynotes, awards and networking opportunities for vendors and channel executives operating in the Russia & CIS region. For more information, visit www.distree-russia.com.

DISTREE Russia & CIS 2012 took place at the Pulkovskaya Radisson Hotel in St. Petersburg from June 21st to 23rd.

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