The Anatomy of a Microsoft Partner

There really is something to the adage, not all business partners are created equal. Now, think business applications. You know, that collection of technologies that gives your company the functionality it needs to efficiently manage your operations. When you look within your company, what are the business platforms, solutions, and apps used to execute cross-functionally? They may include financial payables and receivables, inventory and warehouse management, field service and contract management, customer relationship management, sales and marketing, reporting, and data insights. Oh, and let’s not forget the solutions that address and support your specific industry’s business problems.

That’s a lot of connection points to worry about! But these aren’t the only things that keep your C-suite up at night.

How do you keep work-from-home, in the field, in the warehouse, and in the office data all secure? How do you support an environment of collaboration and information sharing no matter where your teams are working from today? Did you notice we used the “s” words, as in plural? I mean, have you asked your IT team lately just how many solutions and apps your company has deployed? If so, the next question should be ‘how much data are we collecting?’ followed by ‘where are we storing all this data, and are we getting the insights and value we should from it?’.

And last question – is your company leveraging the power of Microsoft’s innovative portfolio of business applications, productivity tools, and Azure cloud platform? Whether your company is running operations on Microsoft Dynamics 365, connecting employees with Microsoft Teams, driving productivity on Microsoft 365 with Office apps, or supporting your citizen developers to build apps with Power Platform, the pace of technology advancement is fast and trying to harness the potential of these applications to streamline your business processes can be a daunting task.

That’s why digging into the anatomy of your Microsoft partner is critical to the success of your Microsoft platform, as well as your solutions and apps use, consumption, and adoption. While not all Microsoft partners are the same, the marketing speak might make it sound like they are close enough. But do you really want to bet your company on close enough?

Because Microsoft’s platform and cloud services are so powerful, there are many, many, many partners to help support you. Microsoft understands the importance of helping you evaluate its partners and deciding the best fit for you. So how is Microsoft helping businesses figure it out?

Let’s work from the ground up. First, Microsoft has competencies that measure a partner’s broad technical capability in a Microsoft product or technology. Those are important achievements, and your partner should be competent in the areas they are supporting your business. There are levels of achievement within Microsoft’s competencies – silver and gold. Silver and gold competency levels have different requirements for each of the areas. Within each area, there are classes and exams that partner employees can achieve. Just a note: Hitachi Solutions is proud to have achieved, and maintain, 17 Gold-level Microsoft Competencies. Actually, you should visit our profile often as we are in a constant state of improvement to ensure we are supporting our clients at the highest level.

Don’t discount the value of your partner’s competency status. As more and more businesses join the Microsoft partner ecosystem, it has become a bit difficult to weed through your options. New this year, Microsoft has announced “advanced specializations” for their partners. An advanced specialization measures a partner’s more in-depth capabilities in a specific solution area. It’s a validation of a partner’s capability to deliver high-fidelity services in the listed solution area and requires a partner to first have an active gold competency aligned to the advanced specialization they are interested in earning. Yep, gold-level competency achievement is meaningful!

Partners who attain an advanced specialization receive a customer-facing label that communicates their deep knowledge in a specific area and verifies their extensive experience and proven success in implementing Microsoft services or solutions. You can read through the partner ‘about us’ marketing speak, or you can simply see what Microsoft says.

So how does an advanced specialization help identify the best partner for you? 

It really does depend on your current deployment or your desired deployment of Microsoft technologies. The requirements to earn an advanced specialization are designed to identify specialists in specific solution areas. The requirements vary depending on the advanced specialization, but may include the following:

1. Attain and maintain gold status in an aligned gold competency

2. Achieve required performance thresholds

3. Have a minimum number of individuals who pass specific certifications or exams

4. Meet additional requirements that may include, but are not limited to:

• Verifiable customer references

• Public case studies

• Microsoft technology performance indicators

• Architectural review

FYI — all requirements are verified by Microsoft and/or a third-party vendor.

The Hitachi Solutions team is proud to share our latest achievement, the Microsoft Advanced Specialization in Cloud Security

The Cloud Security Advanced Specialization showcases our now validated capabilities to implement comprehensive security solutions across Azure, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments. Security represents a major initiative for Microsoft this year, and at Hitachi Solutions we believe it is foundational for all our Azure clients. So critical, we immediately invested in securing this advanced specialization designation.

Microsoft’s advanced specializations in certain areas are available today, with additional specializations expected to come. Our team is eagerly waiting for the launch of Microsoft’s business applications advanced specialization! Learn more from Microsoft here: Advanced Specialization (microsoft.com)

Maybe there is one ‘last’ question…

How does this all come together in a meaningful way to better support your decision on which Microsoft Partner is best for your organization?

As stated earlier, in today’s digital world, the pace of change is fast. To meet customer expectations and remain competitive, companies must adapt quickly and take advantage of new technologies and innovations. Those who do, are more likely to gain the edge they need to remain on top. Those who don’t, risk losing customers to those who do.

Even before the pandemic, leading companies were transitioning from traditional business models to modern cloud-based, data-driven operations to be able to innovate, differentiate themselves, and delight customers with digital experiences. With Covid, digital transformation efforts have accelerated, and it has become an even more critical driver for business adaptability, resiliency, and growth. “Digitize to survive” is a common theme.

But while executives know it is a priority to evolve and make the most of the cloud, automation, big data, and intelligence capabilities, few are able to achieve their transformation goals. That’s because true transformation involves more than just the technology – it also requires strategic vision and road mapping, business re-alignment, culture shifts, new ways of operating and storing and securing data, as well as the ability to support the change.

Already struggling with legacy systems, processes, and mindsets, it can be confusing to know where to start, what to focus on, or how to prioritize digital initiatives to optimize budgets, ensure successful outcomes, and gain the most business value. Most companies do not have the in-house experience or resources to spare to manage such a daunting and seemingly endless effort. And without expert advice and guidance, initiatives tend to stall out and remain unfinished.

The bottom line is successful companies need to leverage a strategic partner with the right programs, tools, technologies, and expertise to keep them on track and complete their digital evolution. Because if it’s one thing we learned from the last few years, change will continue to happen and companies need to be adaptive, agile, and ready.

Digital Compass™ is Hitachi Solutions’ strategy to accelerate and ensure our Microsoft client’s successful digital transformation. Developed from nearly two decades of real-world experience — and powered by our established industry focus and IP, Microsoft solution expertise, and skilled global workforce — Digital Compass uniquely integrates advisory capabilities, technology innovation, delivery excellence, and value-added security and support. This comprehensive approach allows us to expertly lead you through your digital business initiatives end to end – from readiness assessment and value discovery to strategic planning and road mapping to solution delivery and support to user adoption and change management.

No matter where you are on the road to modernizing data and operations, as a trusted advisor Hitachi Solutions has the experience, expertise, and tools to guide, advise, simplify, and support your digital goals — so you can be more resilient, responsive, and profitable in today’s dynamic, digital world.

Our team is obsessed with earning the role of go-to “business transformation advisor for life” by serving our clients at the highest levels and driving and accelerating their digital initiatives. We achieve this by consistently delivering technology innovation and business value through strategic guidance, industry focus, Microsoft expertise, implementation excellence, and continuous improvement.

And here we are, back to the beginning. Yes, not all Microsoft partners are the same. Our team is 100% all-in with Microsoft. From Azure and Azure Purview to Dynamics 365, Power Platform, Microsoft 365, and the strategies to implement comprehensive security solutions, we have the size and the experience – and more importantly – the genuine desire to unlock value for our clients and turn their business strategies into digital realities.

Check us out for yourself. Visit our partner profile on Microsoft.com and view our Microsoft endorsements (yep, with an “s”), then we invite you to learn more about our company at About Us | Hitachi Solutions (hitachi-solutions.com) and follow us on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.