The Case for Joining the IAMCP
- Read the related Q&A with the IAMCP's new worldwide president, Kelvin Kirby.
On his fifth day in his new role as Corporate Vice President of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, Jon Roskill was on a conference call with members of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) U.S. Board of Directors.
"Thank you for the role IAMCP plays in aggregating the voice of the Microsoft Partner channel," Roskill said, in the summer of 2010.
His recognition of IAMCP is a clear indication of one of the most important components of the organization's value to its members: the partnership that IAMCP has forged with Microsoft at the highest executive levels. Roskill had called the meeting to discuss issues with the then-new Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) program.
Reflective of the impact that IAMCP has had, Roskill started the meeting reminding everyone that he was only five days in the role and would not comment on or make any decisions about any of the topics discussed until he had time to review everything that was going on and get settled in his new position.
After listening to IAMCP leadership discuss the issues, Roskill made suggestions for adjustments to the program and ways in which we could remedy some of the partners' concerns. Several important concessions and valuable compromises came out of this discussion, which relieved some of the pressure and made it possible for more partners to adjust to the changes in the program's requirements.
"Thank you for the role IAMCP plays in aggregating the voice of the
Microsoft Partner channel."
Jon Roskill, Channel Chief, Microsoft
What Is the IAMCP?
The IAMCP is a global organization of approximately 4,000 Microsoft partners and other members of the Microsoft partner ecosystem, 1,000 of whom are members of the U.S. chapter, which is organized into 36 chapters nationwide. Upon fulfilling specific requirements, many of these chapters send delegates to the IAMCP U.S. Board of Directors.
This year saw significant change in the composition of the U.S. Board, not the least of which was the election of a new president, Rudy Rodriguez. He is managing partner at Team Venti in Austin, Texas, which Rodriguez describes as a business and technology consultancy created by Microsoft alumni with more than 50 years of combined industry experience. Of Team Venti, like many Microsoft partners, Rodriguez says, "We are committed to helping our customers succeed by leveraging business fundamentals and smart application of information technology."
Building a Trust Community
Many IAMCP chapters take pride in having built a "trust community" in which members can feel comfortable actively partnering with other members on customer projects without worrying about the other partners poaching their customers. Every member is there because they want to take advantage of the opportunity to partner.
"Anyone who even thinks about interfering with another partner's customer relationship quickly leaves our chapter," says Deb Pfundstein, president of the New York City chapter of the IAMCP. "We don't have to throw them out. They realize that they can't get away with it, and the group quickly recognizes not to work with them. We really haven't had problems with that."
The IAMCP, explains Rodriguez, "puts you in a place where you can build a trust relationship with your partners, learn more about them, and you enter into insightful and thoughtful conversation about how you can expand your services to a customer together. IAMCP facilitates that approach. If partners commit to those types of discussions, it leads to substantially more business than they ever had."
Partnering on a Larger Level
Rodriguez is excited to see partnering taking place on even larger levels. "I'm seeing groups of partners work together in Southern California to throw complete conferences and share the business leads that come out of that. There are huge benefits when partners learn to work together," he says.
Globally, Rodriguez talks about recently being able to put together a deal between a partner in France, a partner in the United States and a partner in Mexico, all sharing part of a worldwide deployment of Microsoft Office 2010. "That partner in France didn't have to go searching," Rodriguez notes. "They just came to IAMCP and asked how they do this."
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IAMCP talks about the four pillars of its mission: Partner-to-Partner Partnering, Advocacy, Community and Enablement, which form its battle-cry acronym, PACE.
Partnering is the primary cornerstone of the IAMCP's purpose. Helping Microsoft partners learn how to partner more effectively, and giving them a trust community in which they can more readily evaluate each other's capabilities is core to each IAMCP chapter.
Asked about the IAMCP's highest priority, Boston chapter President Erik Frantzen replies, "adding more members." While this sounds like the highest priority of any organization, Frantzen went on to explain that, "Every member who joins IAMCP potentially represents a whole new set of services that every other member can sell to their customers. Given that it's five times easier to sell to your existing customers than it is to create a new one, we all look for new services and products to sell to our customers. We find them at IAMCP. Each new member also represents a new potential sales channel for all the other members."
"IAMCP really creates the ultimate win-win scenario," Rodriguez adds. "You can bring in partners from other markets. When you meet people, and you respect them, and have confidence in their ability, you're able to partner a whole lot easier."
On one level, the Advocacy work the IAMCP does on behalf of members and the entire Microsoft partner community focuses on responding to governmental policy challenges to the IT industry, reducing software piracy, promoting innovation, recognizing and supporting the role of women in IT and more.
On another level, IAMCP advocates on behalf of partners with Microsoft. To be successful in this role, says Richard Losciale, former U.S. IAMCP Central Regional chair, "We must be able to be adversarial without being unpatriotic with Microsoft."
Southeast Regional Chair Stephen Hall explains that part of the role of the IAMCP is to "help Microsoft partners better navigate the ocean that is Microsoft," reminding members that "Microsoft is huge, powerful, and ever-changing, just like an ocean. And if you aren't careful to steer your ship through the choppy waves properly, you can sink yourself."
The Community work that IAMCP does is outstanding. Organizations like the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and others regularly benefit from events held by IAMCP chapters across the nation.
This year, the IAMCP focuses on Enablement for its members more than ever before. Many chapter presidents talk about the importance of sharing best practices among themselves and learning from each other to help grow each other's businesses.
"We bring together that spirit of encouragement and networking," Rodriguez says. "We facilitate that best practice of how to share information. It's going to move into the collaborative field a lot more, saying 'is there a partner I can work with?' We have a code of ethics in place. We have a team of dedicated professionals that are board officers across the country. We just need to do a better job of communicating the value of what we do for members to more Microsoft partners."
"IAMCP helps Microsoft partners better navigate the ocean that is
Stephen Hall, Southeast Regional Chair, IAMCP
Goals for 2012 and Beyond
When asked for his top three goals for the U.S. IAMCP, Rodriguez first points to membership.
"We need to achieve and exceed our membership goals," he explains. "We have about 1,000 members now and we want to grow to at least 2,500 in the next year. This is important to IAMCP in the recognition our size gives us, a more powerful voice with Microsoft to advocate for our members."
His second goal is to put in place an infrastructure that will better support members, and provide them with more and better services. "We have to continue to survey our members to find out what they want and need from their IAMCP," explains Rodriguez. "Then we can determine and build the programs that will be most beneficial."
Finally, Rodriguez talks about being the "go-to" partner for the organization's vendor partners, including but certainly not limited to Microsoft. He talks about the larger Microsoft ecosystem, which includes many other manufacturers, software providers, distributors and others. As the IAMCP attracts more of these, it broadens the base of service it provides to members and reduces its dependence on any other single organization for funding and support. information, visit iamcp-us.org.
Technologist, creator of compelling content, and senior "resultant" Howard M. Cohen has been in the information technology industry for more than four decades. He has held senior executive positions in many of the top channel partner organizations and he currently writes for and about IT and the IT channel.