Partner Advocate

You've Got Homework

Desmond's last column requests feedback from readers on some future story ideas.

I always enjoy columns where the writer offers up tidbits that don't warrant entire stories. "Emptying out the desk drawer of the sports mind," as Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe puts it.

This seemed like an appropriate time to steal that idea, since this will be my last Partner Advocate column. I'm giving up the big (faux) leather chair and Scott Bekker has been named the new editor in chief. He is joined by Anne Stuart, a writer and editor I've known for several years who, as executive editor, will also play a large role in the day to day running of the magazine. Having worked with Scott for the last 18 months, and with Anne when I could land a spot on her busy schedule, I'm confident the magazine is being left in good hands.

My twist on Ryan's idea involves a little work for you. Following are some story ideas that I've been toying with. I'm hoping you can help out Scott and Anne by replying with your thoughts on some or all of these items. Am I on to something or am I simply all wet and you're glad I'm moving on? You be the judge.

Navigating Microsoft. I almost had this one assigned, but Microsoft kept reorg'ing on me. Are you familiar with the Microsoft org chart? Do you know who to call for various sorts of issues, be they problems or opportunities? In short, is navigating Microsoft a problem for your company?

Finding latent pain. During a session I went to at the July Worldwide Partner Conference, the speaker talked about the importance of finding the "latent pain" in customer accounts. That's the pain customers often don't even realize they're experiencing, yet it's costing them all the same in terms of productivity, lost opportunity and the like. How do you find latent pain in your accounts?

Managing cash flow. One of the things I was told when I first started to figure out what this magazine would be all about was that lots of Microsoft partners are techies at heart, not businesspeople. Given that, they can often use direction with the pure business side of running their companies—things like managing cash flow, which involves dealing with decreasing margins and sales prices, head count and tracking costs. Is that something you struggle with? Any other pure "business" functions that you find troublesome?

Microsoft Consulting. This idea fell out of a customer roundtable Microsoft hosted for the press at the most recent TechEd event. One customer said he uses Microsoft Consulting and Accenture to double-check his architectures. Another said he often uses Microsoft partners for various tasks, but ends up going to Microsoft Consulting, even though they're more expensive. Sounds like stiff competition to me. Does your company often run into competition from Microsoft Consulting? How do you deal with it?

The MSP bandwagon. Microsoft will be the first to tell you that the path to steady revenue growth goes through high-margin services. Some partners are taking that message to the extreme, by becoming managed service providers (MSPs). I recently met with some folks from SilverBack Technologies Inc. who claim they have 90 resellers using their software to conduct remote IP monitoring and remediation services. Do you have an MSP offering in your future?

Please send any thoughts to editor@rcpmag.com. Scott and Anne will be sure to get them. If you care to contact me directly, I'll be at paul@pdedit.com. Best of luck in all your endeavors. It's been a pleasure serving you.

About the Author

Paul Desmond, the founding editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine, is president of the IT publishing firm PDEdit in Southborough, Mass. Reach him at paul@pdedit.com.