Microsoft bifurcates channel chief role following partner backlash

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Microsoft has announced its intent to bifurcate the firm's channel chief role, a week ahead of the company's annual partner conference, Inspire.

Per the amendment, former channel chief and nearly-25-year Microsoft veteran Rodney Clark will be replaced by two current Microsoft executives.

"The channel chief role, previously held by Rodney Clark, will be split into two distinct leadership roles; one of which will be directly tied to sales with our channel partners and led by David Smith, new VP channel sales; and the other led by Julie Sanford, VP GTM, programs and experiences, with direct accountability for programs and offerings,” a company spokesperson said.

“The decision to evolve what formerly had been a single role into two distinct areas of responsibility is a reflection of the growing importance and breadth of our partner ecosystem all-up."

The split in the ‘channel chief’ role follows months of discontent within Microsoft's partner-channel community. Specifically, Clark’s decision to support changes in the firm’s partner program upset a number of Microsoft's partners.

A good case in point is the New Commerce Experience (NCE). The ‘per seat’ pricing model, yet to be implemented across Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Windows 365, and Power Platform, was not welcomed by a vast majority of the firm’s reseller partners.


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Responding to the opposition, Microsoft made another NCE concession in June, postponing "indefinitely" the date by which Cloud Solution Providers would be required to sell licenses under the NCE terms, ZDNet reported.

As matters stand, Clark has quit Microsoft to join Johnson Controls as VP & chief commercial officer.