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Microsoft's Zecher takes a global perspective

Linda Zecher became corporate vice president of Microsoft Worldwide Public Sector in early February. She’s responsible for 1,900 sales and marketing people who work in the government, education and noncommercial health care markets globally. She shared her views with Washington Technology.

WT: What are your biggest challenges?

Zecher: First and foremost is the current economic climate and the impact it’s having on our customers and their citizens. Virtually every government in the world is struggling with the global downturn, and they face a dual set of complex challenges — how to stem the downward spiral in their national or local economies while meeting the ever-growing demand for government services in the face of declining revenues and tight budgets.

What keeps me up at night is making sure we are doing all we can to help them in those efforts. That means supporting governments in implementing and monitoring stimulus programs to help ensure that spending has the greatest impact. It means continuing to evolve and expand our range of programs and partnerships to empower citizens with skills and new opportunity. Finally, it means helping governments find new and innovative ways to serve and engage citizens, while also driving new efficiencies and cost-savings through IT.

Q: What common elements do the different public-sector markets share?

Zecher: While the context is different across and within different regions, our customers have a fairly common set of priorities.

Virtually every government is focused on the same core goals: delivering key services; ensuring the health, safety and security of their citizens; and building capacity and opportunity among their people. And again, they are all wrestling with the current global economic downturn.

In every case, they understand that technology can be an important catalyst to meet these goals.

For example, President Obama has laid out a vision of a more transparent, efficient, collaborative and participatory government enabled by IT.

Those objectives are ones we hear from many of our customers worldwide. Governments across the globe are frustrated with systems that don’t talk to each other, having too much data and not enough actionable information, and a perceived separation of citizens from their governments.

Through the use of business intelligence solutions, interoperable systems and the power of social computing, we can help governments address those challenges. Underlying those are key imperatives for all governments, including data security, governance issues, privacy and environmental sustainability.

Q: What new initiatives can Microsoft's partners expect from the group under your leadership?

Zecher: Partners are at the center of our business model in public sector. In fact, for every dollar of revenue Microsoft generates, our partners earn more than $7.

Our efforts focus on continuing to enable and engage partners to deliver impactful solutions to our customers around the world. We’ll continue to evolve and expand our partner programs to provide industry-specific marketing collateral, technical and sales readiness, community connections, and business development incentives.

We’re also focused on helping our partners realize opportunities through software plus services by developing the right models for partner-hosted solutions that meet the specific needs of the public sector.

Most important is our ongoing commitment to develop easy and effective ways for partners to expand their reach globally, so that an innovative solution created by a partner in Washington, D.C., is available in a friction-free way to government or education customers in developed and emerging economies around the world.

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