Microsoft Channel Chief Rodney Clark departs

Microsoft Channel Chief Rodney Clark is leaving Microsoft after a 25-year career during a time when several Microsoft resellers are not happy about recent changes to the company's programs.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

A number of Microsoft's reseller partners have been none too happy with program changes as of late. Today, May 16, the head of Channel sales at Microsoft announced publicly that he is leaving.

Rodney Clark, Corporate Vice President of Global Channel Sales and Channel Chief at Microsoft is taking a new role outside the company. According to a Microsoft blog post acknowledging Clark's departure, Clark will become an "Executive Officer at a publicly traded company that is a great partner to Microsoft," with more details due to be announced in the coming weeks. Microsoft officials said a search is on for his replacement and Microsoft is planning to have a new Channel Chief in place by the start of its new fiscal year on July 1.

Clark has held a variety of roles at Microsoft for nearly 25 years. He has been Channel Chief since March 2021. For the past several months, he has been one of the main execs at Microsoft defending changes in its partner program that have not been popular with a number of the company's partners. 

The company's New Commerce Experience (NCE) -- which is meant to streamline how partners license and customers purchase products -- is in the midst of being implemented across Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Windows 365, and the Power Platform. Many Microsoft partners have expressed their displeasure publicly and privately with the terms of operation of the NCE. In mid-March, Microsoft made a small concession about one of the NCE provisions, but that change hasn't done a lot to quell partner concerns over NCE.

Also in mid-March, Microsoft announced some substantial changes to its partner program that caught a number of Microsoft partners by surprise, and not in a good way. 

Under the new program, there will no longer be a baseline "member" status plus Silver and Gold competencies and "advanced specializations." Competencies will be phased out and replaced by two new qualifying levels beyond baseline: Solutions Partner and Specialist/Expert. And Microsoft will move to a new partner capability score and drop its current Partner Contribution Indicator score. A number of partners said they felt the new requirements weren't explained well and that they didn't have enough time to meet the new qualifications.

Microsoft's partner network, which includes roughly 400,000 companies, is key to the way the company sells, as its own direct salesforce is not huge. Microsoft's annual partner conference, Inspire, is slated to happen virtually again this year from July 19 to 20.

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