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Margo Day, Microsoft’s popular channel chief, is taking a position as regional vice president of the Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners organization, leaving the partner program to Robert Deshaies, also from SMS&P.

Day and Deshaies are among a four-way leadership change-up taking place July 1 in the SMS&P organization to “cross-pollinate the organization with expertise and experience” from different tracks —channel and sales—to “enable the success” of both tracks, Microsoft said in a memorandum announcing the changes.

Day, vice president of the US Partner Group, will become a regional vice president in the SMS&P field group. Deshaies, regional vice president of east region, will replace Day.

Microsoft joins its partner and small business groups. Click here to read more.

Dave Willis, vice president of SMS&P of Microsoft Canada, replaces Deshaies, and Matt Pease, regional vice president of SMS&P’s west region will become region vice president—services.

A Microsoft spokesperson characterized all four as lateral moves.

“We have more products coming out right now and in the next 18 months than Microsoft has had in its entire history,” Day told The Channel Insider, adding, “We’re hoping it leads to innovation and breakthroughs in the way we sell and market with and through partners in the field.”

Ninety-six percent of SMS&P revenue is going through the channel right now, Day said, but there remains a disconnect between Microsoft partner executives and end users that hinders go-to-market strategy in the partner organization and quite possibly adoption of Microsoft technology.

Click here to read about Microsoft’s plans to fold its OEM and System Builder partner communities into one organization.

“I’m interested in figuring out how to accelerate adoption of our platforms,” Day said. “I believe the best way is with and through partners, but we haven’t cracked the code yet. I am looking forward to getting inside customers and collaborating with the management team…”

As for the cross-pollination concept, “I know intimately what the partner group does and how the national partners operate,” Day said. “Rob knows intimately what it means to be regional vice president and what the customers need in the field … But I haven’t spoken to an end user, but for one trip … in almost three years. And Rob’s focus has leaned toward customers.”

Partners fond of Day

Day was personally popular among many partners and will be missed in the organization, said Bob Nitrio, president of Ranvest Associates, a Microsoft partner based in Orangevale, Calif.

“[Day] took the Microsoft partner program to places where it had never been … [which is] especially true for partners who play primarily in the SMB [small and midsize business] space,” Nitrio said. “Where once we were the backwaters of the partnership pond, Microsoft now realizes that we are the dominant technology influencers and decision makers in the SMB customer space.”

Among the biggest changes has been better contact for SMB VARs with Microsoft personnel and the creation of the Microsoft Small Business Specialist designation.

“All of this occurred during Margo’s watch and I am convinced that without her it would have evolved more slowly, if at all,” Nitrio said. “She is unique, and that is why she succeeded in transforming the partner program into a meaningful entity to the partners who were previously all but invisible to Microsoft.”

Day said VARs would soon equally appreciate Deshaies’ approach.