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Microsoft Hits the Road, Lets Customers Test-Drive Technology

Microsoft Across America trucks star at partner events for SMBs.

If you can't get to us, we can come to you.

That's the message behind the Microsoft Across America (MSAM) Tour, an ongoing series of IT seminars and demos staged inside a fleet of mammoth trucks tricked out with the latest technology. The MSAM trucks travel hundreds of miles each week, making stops at Microsoft- and partner-sponsored conferences, trade shows, festivals and other events.

The truck tour-which began its third year in September-evolved directly from a request from Alaskan company Arctic Information Technology, a Gold Certified Partner based in Anchorage. A few years ago, the company sought Microsoft's help in getting its solutions in front of far-away prospects, particularly small businesses. Microsoft converted a shuttle van into a mobile technology showcase; the company's employees spent two months driving it across Alaska to do on-site demos.

The pilot project was so successful that Microsoft took the effort nationwide, allowing partners to reserve the trucks for customer events. "The focus of this is to bring technology right to the heart of the small business," says MSAM General Manager Rodney Clark.

Today, the fleet includes seven 42-foot-long "mobile events" trucks, each equipped with up to 10 workstations at which traveling teams can demo technologies ranging from Windows Vista to the latest Microsoft Dynamics release. During Microsoft's fiscal 2007, which ended July 1, the trucks hosted 14,000 visitors at 730 events, Clark says.

The vehicles do more than raise awareness, Clark adds: Mobile events drive, on average, $150,000 in new opportunities for the hosting partner.

For details, visit microsoft.com/mscorp/acrossamerica.

About the Author

Anne Stuart, the former executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner, is a business technology freelance writer based in Boston, Mass.