The Mixed Reality Partner Program is an integrated business program focused on enabling and supporting digital agencies, systems integrators, and solution providers who are committed to building mixed reality solutions. It is a performance-based program that offers incentives to partners as they help customers successfully pilot and deploy commercial mixed reality solutions.
The goal of the Mixed Reality Partner Program is to enable Microsoft partners to collaborate and build enterprise commercial mixed reality solutions that improve communications, streamline operations, drive worker productivity, and create amazing customer experiences. The ultimate business outcome of the program is a customer engagement that leads to enterprise deployment.
Shortly after announcing HoloLens in 2015, Microsoft invited digital and creative agencies to develop mixed reality solutions as part of the HoloLens Agency Readiness Program. In return, we provided partners with technical readiness training to help them deliver compelling mixed reality solutions across multiple industries.
With agencies around the globe now skilled in mixed reality development, including those in Australia, Ireland, France, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Agency Readiness Program partners have produced tangible results, such as POCs, pilots, and deployments of world-class mixed reality solutions. Microsoft partners are now leading the digital transformation of enterprise solutions for customers including Stryker Communications, PGA Tour, Paccar, Helsinki Airport, SITA, Grundfos Group, and many more. The Mixed Reality Partner Program expands on the early success of the Agency Readiness Program by inviting agencies, system integrators, and solution partners from around the globe to join us on this exciting mixed reality journey.
This program is for system integrators and agencies that meet the requirements for our target markets.
The Mixed Reality Partner Program is focused primarily on six industries: manufacturing, public sector/government, education, healthcare, architecture/engineering/construction, and retail.
There are several commercial use cases that span our target industries:
The program is a four-phased program with incentives (benefits) that are earned as the partner achieves key milestones, such as the successful completion of business planning, technical training, or implementation of a POC, pilot, or deployment.
The four phases of the program are:
The four categories of incentives of the program are 1) joint business planning, 2) technical readiness training, 3) technical assistance, and 4) sales and marketing enablement. For details on how to qualify for these incentives, see Partner incentives.
Joint business planning
Technical readiness training
Sales and marketing enablement
Partners who meet the program requirements, apply, agree to the terms of the program, and are admitted into the program and successfully complete the milestones in each phase, will be connected to a Microsoft partner sales executive in their geography, trained on how to build mixed reality solutions, supported by the product marketing and field marketing organizations, and assisted directly by the Microsoft Mixed Reality engineering team in POCs, pilots, and deployments.
There are three categories of commitments partners make when they join the program:
Acceptance into the program is based on an application and interview. Partners must meet these minimum requirements to qualify for the Mixed Reality Partner Program. Meeting the minimum requirement is not a guarantee of entry.
Systems integrator and solution provider minimum requirements:
Digital agency minimum requirements:
The MRPP program consist of four phases starting with an application.
The intake application phase is when you communicate to us your interest in becoming a Windows Mixed Reality partner. The journey starts by completing an intake application form. On the form you will be asked a variety of business and technical questions to help us evaluate your initial fit to the program. If you meet the initial requirements, the next step will be a phone interview. Following the phone interview, we will make a decision about your application. In general, you should expect the process, including notification of our decision and entry into the program, to take between 60 and 90 days.
The intake application form will take some time, but the completeness of the application is an important step in our decision making process. We value your time and effort to share your business and interest in Windows Mixed Reality.
Once we receive your application, we will review it for fit within the program. If you are not selected, you will receive an email informing you of our decision. There are three possible reasons why an application would not be selected:
If the application looks promising, one of our regional partner managers (RPMs) will reach out to schedule a phone interview with you. The interview will be schedule for one hour. We ask that you have both a business and technical leader from your company on the call. Usually one of these roles will also be the your company's sponsor of the partnership, but if not, please have the internal sponsor on the call as well. During the interview, we will ask some deeper questions pertaining to the answers on your application, including:
We will also provide details around commitments and next steps, and you will have an opportunity to ask us questions. Following the interview, we will inform you of our decision, usually within one week of the call. Should you be accepted into the program, the next step will be to onboard you into the program.
Coming out of a successful interview call there are two possible paths:
Given these two possible paths, the primary purpose of onboarding is to set mutual expectations and agree to move forward in the program. There will be two onboarding calls:
The calls will be led by a Microsoft Regional Partner Manager (RPM). A template and agenda will be provided for each call. Agenda topics will include:
The purpose of the Readiness phase is to demonstrate your company's ability to create and deliver compelling mixed reality experiences. To this end, we will ask you to complete a HoloLens app for a customer in one of our target industries. The application must demonstrate a mastery of creating compelling user experiences coupled with high quality assets. Further the application must flex the unique features of HoloLens and demonstrate end value to your customer.
Please reference Why HoloLens for more information on the unique features and value of HoloLens. Your team must be composed of both developers and designers that have a strong understanding of 3D development and performance tuning.
The exit criteria for the readiness step includes:
If you have already completed a HoloLens project for a customer, then fast-track may be the quickest way into the program. The exit criteria defined above still applies, but going through a three-month training program is not necessary. During fast-track you must:
If you don’t pass our quality bar, we will provide you details as to why. You will have 90 days to make improvements and try again.
Fast-track alternative for System Integrators
System Integrators can partner with one of our recommended digital agencies rather than building the project directly. Since the agency is already qualified, we can assume the HoloLens experience will meet our standards. You will need to continue to work with a recommended digital agency for future projects. This requirement will be removed once your company is able to demonstrate a proficiency in building HoloLens experiences based on our quality app criteria.
Our readiness training program is designed to help your company deliver quality MR experiences on HoloLens. The program typically takes three to four months depending on the nature of your project. The project must be for a customer and meet our expectations regarding target markets and scenarios. We are constantly evolving the program to meet the needs of our partners, but at a minimum you should expect:
The final POC must pass our quality bar. If you don’t pass our quality bar, we will provide you details as to why. You will have 30 days to make improvements and try again. If you don't pass the second time, you must enter through the fast-track program.
Upon successful completion of the Readiness phase, you qualify for all program benefits.
Once you graduate from the Readiness phase, your journey as a Mixed Reality Partner is just beginning. This is the time you will be helping us grow this market through POCs, pilots, and deployments of HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality devices. During our partnership, we will set mutual expectations and evaluate them regularly. From our perspective, there are a few things we are looking for from our partners:
All of the above represents elements of a business plan. You should expect your Microsoft team to review during our quarterly business updates. It is important to understand that graduation from the readiness program is not a long-term guarantee of staying in the program.
The Mixed Reality Partner Program includes a rich set of partner incentives that are received (“unlocked”) by partners as they move through the program. The graphic below illustrates just some of the incentives that are unlocked in each phase.
Planning between a partner and the Microsoft team begins in earnest in Phase 3 (Readiness) once the partner is on a path towards graduation. Several incentives associated with joint business planning are described in this section.
During the late stages of readiness, partners are assigned a Partner Sales Executive (PSE) as a primary sales contact. The PSE is primarily responsible for helping the partner drive sales. To achieve this, a PSE is accountable to help partners in four areas:
Insights into business directions and new features
Partners will receive regular updates from the Microsoft team that include confidential material covered under the program’s Non-Disclosure Agreement:
Most of these insights will be communicated during Quarterly Business Updates, which will be coordinated by your regional partner manager (RPM).
The Microsoft team will help make connections between partners in the program to optimize their ability to move a customer from POC to deployment. One of the most important business planning topics we cover in the Onboarding phase is the whether a partner will drive a customer engagement from POC to pilot to deployment with or without assistance from another partner.
While some partners will have the capabilities to drive a project end to end, we’ve learned through experience that projects are often most successful when the SI partners with a digital agency on the mixed reality creative development work. Likewise, we find that digital agencies are most successful when they partner with an SI to help drive deployment and backend IT integration (security, MDM, etc.).
Industry and account targeting
The Microsoft team will develop with partners strategies to build awareness, interest, and POC opportunities at specific accounts in the enterprise customer segment. Microsoft will also share recommendations on tools and tactics that help optimize account-based selling and marketing.
Customer and industry events and promotional opportunities
Due to the high levels of interest industry-wide in mixed reality technologies, the Microsoft team is in a constant state of planning for customer and industry events. Partners will have numerous opportunities to coordinate their presence at these events, which may include:
Establish a joint rhythm of the business (ROB)
During Onboarding, the Microsoft team and partner will plan a business meeting cadence to stay connected, informed, and aligned. This cadence will include scheduling Quarterly Business Updates, technical readiness training, and a sales and marketing workshop, and any other connection meetings that are needed.
The team will also identify key contacts and roles and responsibilities.
Partners receive deep technical training as well as sales and marketing training in Phase 3 of the Mixed Reality Partner Program. The incentives associated with readiness training are described in this section.
Envisioning + readiness
As described in the Readiness training section, partners participate in a week long immersive training program at a Microsoft location, typically in Redmond, Washington or London, UK. Over the course of a week, expert-level engineers and technical program managers work closely with partners to help them ramp on mixed reality technologies. During the envisioning and readiness training week, the Microsoft team delivers the following:
While there is T&E expense for partners, the entire readiness curriculum—the classroom experience and webinars—are free to partners.
Sales & marketing workshop
As part of readiness training, the Microsoft team provides partners sales and marketing training via a webinar (so that the partner’s marketing and sales team members can attend). During the webinar, partners will hear from Microsoft marketers and sellers on several topics:
Partners that complete the sales and marketing workshop receive access to a marketing and sales bill of materials that contains content and tools to support partner-led sales and marketing. Customer POC
To “graduate” from the Readiness training phase, partners must conduct a successful customer proof of concept. To help partners meet this requirement, the Microsoft team will assist with the following:
Mixed reality is a new paradigm, and the skills needed to design, develop, and deploy a mixed reality solution are new. By providing technical assistance and mentoring to our partners as they conduct POCs, pilots, and deployments, we pass along the technical know-how so that our partners can drive successful POCs, pilots, and deployments. Several incentives associated with technical assistance and mentoring are described in this section.
Engineering assistance for pilot and deployment opportunities
Partners that complete Phase 3 (Readiness) qualify for 20 hours of (free) technical assistance from the Microsoft mixed reality engineering team to help with pilot and deployment opportunities. A qualified opportunity is past the lead stage and is a customer project with a high likelihood of moving into a pilot or full-scale deployment.
An opportunity that would not qualify for engineering assistance would include a POC, such as a marketing demo with no opportunity to grow into a pilot project, or a project that is aimed at selling devices to consumers. Your Partner Sales Executive (PSE) and Regional Partner Manager (RPM) can help qualify opportunities that are eligible for engineering assistance.
Enablement Services hours for purchase
If a partner wants additional assistance directly from the Microsoft engineering team, additional hours are available for purchase via our Enablement Services program. Your Partner Sales Executive (PSE) and Regional Partner Manager (RPM) can provide details and facilitate this transaction.
Once a POC and pilot have completed (by meeting the requirements for advancement) and the customer is ready to deploy a mixed reality solution, our team offers deployment assistance for qualified opportunities. They will provide the following services:
Your Partner Sales Executive (PSE) and Regional Partner Manager (RPM) can help qualify opportunities that are eligible for deployment assistance, and help scope the hours, people, and processes the engineering team will use to provide the support.
Pre-sales escalation support
The Microsoft team is available to provide technical assistance with pre-sales customer presentations and meetings. Your Partner Sales Executive (PSE) can help coordinate this support.
An important aim of the Mixed Reality Partner Program is to help our partners market and sell their solutions and services. When accepted into the program, partners get access to content, tools, and a variety of sales and marketing support services. Partner-lead sales and marketing Microsoft provides assistance via market intelligence, content, tools, joint go-to-market execution (including PR and case study support), and a range of incentives; however, partners are expected to lead their own sales and marketing efforts.
There are four key principles of partner-led sales and marketing of mixed reality solutions:
Sales and marketing content
Partners will be provided access to a sales and marketing bill of materials to facilitate their customer marketing efforts. The marketing content (pitch deck, data sheet, email template, etc.) are customizable so that you can present them with your logo.
In addition, all program partners are welcome to join the MPN program, Microsoft’s global partner program, and get access to an extensive library of sales and marketing guidance and tools.
Mixed Reality Partner badge
The Mixed Reality partner badge helps customers identify Microsoft partners who have achieved a high level of competency on the Windows Mixed Reality platform. Partners who attain and display this badge stand out as having been endorsed by Microsoft, differentiate themselves from competitors, and increase their credibility in the market. For an overview of the badge usage guidance, see the Mixed Reality Partner Program Badge Usage Guide.
Case study development
Partners receive assistance with building case studies after successful customer deployments. Microsoft provides templates, guidance, and (for qualified opportunities) will even provide resources to interview the customer, create case study content, and publish the case study on Microsoft.com.
Partners receive PR assistance for news-worthy events, customer wins, and large deployments. In addition, partners may be invited to participate in press briefings, speaking engagements, and other opportunities to drive press for their company.
Web presence Partners get placement of company logo and short description on HoloLens.com/partners site, the Microsoft Partner Center, and the soon-to-be-published Mixed Reality web site. In addition, company contact info will be included in auto-locator on HoloLens web site
Microsoft Technology Centers Program partners are welcome to use Microsoft MTCs (with over 40 locations around the globe) to engage customers, empower employees, optimize operations, and reinvent products and business models. The MTC staff and local Microsoft account teams will help you position your offering to customers, conduct envisioning workshops with your customers, and demo your solutions on Microsoft technologies. Our goal is to move your customer closer to deployment.