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In needing to demonstrate a billing and provisioning infrastructure as part of the new CSP direct bill requirements, partners are feeling the hand of Microsoft nudging them down the road of digital transformation.

It’s no secret that Microsoft is pushing digitalization hard as part of both its own strategy, as well as that of its partners.

And it’s thus no surprise that in introducing new CSP direct bill requirements beginning on 31 August 2018, Microsoft states that “Digital transformation is evolving the way you and your customers do business. To keep pace and help you make the best decisions for your business, we’ve updated enrollment requirements for direct bill partners in the Cloud Solution Provider program.”

Direct CSPs must now purchase a support plan from Microsoft (more here) and demonstrate two key capabilities. One is that partners provide at least one managed service, intellectual property service or customer solution application. The other is that the partner must demonstrate a billing and provisioning infrastructure. 

A billing and provisioning infrastructure is often part of a digital platform, and has the advantages of increased business agility and minimised revenue leakage. According to the Soliditech Business Automation blog, automated provisioning has the inherent benefit that “Rather than relying on time consuming and error-prone manual processes, changes to an account’s status are propagated to remote systems instantly; without timely human errors or process-breakdown delays.”

Partners must demonstrate a billing and provisioning infrastructure.

Forming part of the broader digitalization of the channel, distributors are now facing a major disruption in the form of the platform-based business model, which is seeing major success in many other industries as well.

With expanded customer reach, reduced operations costs and a high level of operational visibility all tangible benefits associated with the platform business model, channel intermediaries are looking to either find an affordable distribution platform in the market, or build out their own. Although each route has its own pros and cons, the basic need for such a product remains a high-priority item.

As we can see with Microsoft’s latest CSP requirement, vendors are also beginning to insist on increasingly complete channel distribution platforms to execute on their own go-to-market strategies. It’s up to channel intermediaries to take heed and implement the necessary steps to not get excluded from, amongst other things, potentially lucrative channel partner programs.