Growing and Prospering with Customers
By becoming trusted technology advisors, Microsoft Partners can thrive as their customers prosper.
- By Margo Day
- July 01, 2005
Our industry operates under the mandate of Moore's Law: Microprocessor capacity doubles every two years. Business is now done in digital ways that were only dreamed of five years ago, offering tremendous
productivity advantages and cost savings. In fact, there is such
an enormous wealth of innovative technology on the market that any
company without an IT staff is bound to be overwhelmed by it.
Small and midsize businesses (SMBs), in particular, need help to
make the right technology decisions. They look to solution partners
as trusted technology advisors who can translate the "bits and bytes"
of high tech into meaningful business solutions that will enable
them to grow and better serve their customers.
Consider the success of X Factor Consulting, a Laguna Beach, Calif.-based
technology consultant to Marine Depot, one of the first companies
to take exotic fish sales online. A favorite among marine hobbyists
for its rare species offerings, Marine Depot ships fish safely,
backed by an "arrive alive" guarantee.
X Factor helped Marine Depot by implementing Microsoft Great Plains
8.0 for financial management and distribution. Between November
2004 and April 2005, Marine Depot's completed same-day customer
orders increased from 75 percent to more than 95 percent. Outbound
order fulfillment grew from a capacity of 600 orders per day to
more than 1,500—an increase of 150 percent—with the same warehouse
facility and staff. The company was recently honored with a Microsoft
Business Solutions 2005 Pinnacle Award for Excellence in Innovation
for the increase in productivity and sales it achieved by using
business software to improve inventory accuracy and shipping time.
In this example of a mutually beneficial partner-customer relationship,
I see clear evidence of a very promising direction for all Microsoft
solution partners. There are currently 5 million small businesses
in the United States and more than 600,000 are launched every year.
According to AMI-Partners, annual IT expenditures by U.S. SMBs,
already at about $150 billion, will grow to $212 billion by 2009.
These customers will need the right technology solutions to support
Our goal is to help our solution partners capture a healthy share
of this business. Through the Microsoft Partner Program, we are
investing nearly $2 billion in partners worldwide this year. For
example, we will deliver a wide range of subsidized technical, sales
and marketing training courses that will help our partners continue
to enhance their success in selling and delivering industry-leading
Microsoft solutions to customers.
We have heard great feedback from partners that the training offered
is helping their businesses. For example, 280 partners revealed
that after they participated in a deep technical training on Windows
Server 2003 Active Directory they had sold new engagements that
totaled close to $2.6 million.
Along with training opportunities, we are also increasing investments
in partner marketing. A successful reflection of this effort is
the Partner Engagement Program (PEP) for small business, which is
focused on helping our partners identify and fulfill the technology
needs of smaller companies by capitalizing on the business value
achieved through Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003, Windows
XP Professional (with Service Pack 2), Office Small Business Edition
2003 and related applications. More than 11,000 partners have enrolled
to date. By registering for PEP, our partners have access to evaluation
software, white papers, customer-ready presentations and demos,
sales guides, project plans and various training opportunities all
geared to help increase their customer influence.
Another example is the Microsoft Across America program, which
makes our people, products and services easily accessible to solution
partners and their customers. Throughout the year, the program provides
approximately 1,400 opportunities for partners to connect with local
SMB customers and prospects across the country.
For Microsoft solution partners who want to team with other types
of Microsoft Partners to deliver end-to-end customer solutions,
the new Microsoft Partner Channel Builder program provides an easy
and innovative way for partners to collaborate, share their expertise
and extend their sales reach into new areas and territories.
These are just a few examples of how we're enabling our partners
to create a symbiotic and profitable relationship with SMBs. By
becoming trusted technology advisors, our partners can thrive as
their customers prosper. And that's what helping others realize
their potential is all about.