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MPN Small Business Competency Launching This Summer

The Small Business Competency is coming to the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) in June, Microsoft announced on Thursday.

Microsoft said it expects the Small Business Competency to become one of the most-obtained in the MPN. The new competency will have a "special emphasis" on cloud computing, and it was designed to give partners a leg up in the growing cloud services market for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

"As the cloud opportunity continues to expand and mature in the small-business segment, this new competency will enable each Small Business Competency partner to have a cloud conversation with each of their customers," said Jon Roskill, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Group, in a prepared statement.

MPN General Manager Julie Bennani indicated in a blog post Thursday that feedback from Microsoft partners contributed greatly to the new competency's development. She also touted the benefits partners and their clients would receive from the Small Business Competency.

"In addition to the use of a new Small Business Competency logo, you will be able to gain access to a broad set of internal usage rights for cloud services as well as on-premise products, priority listing in the Pinpoint marketplace, and great technical support benefits," she wrote. "Your SMB customers will see great benefits as well. They depend on trusted partners like you to provide customized solutions that will help reduce their costs, increase business efficiencies, and boost sales. This new Small Business Competency will help ensure consistent quality customer experiences are delivered via our partners and help others recognize you as a valued expert."

Microsoft in the past has waffled on adding the Small Business Competency. The company initially intended to roll out the competency with the launch of the MPN in late 2010. However, as RCP Editor in Chief Scott Bekker has noted, "Microsoft executives had second thoughts when it was time to make the new MPN competencies live and decided to leave the extra-competency structure of the [Small Business Specialist Community designation] alone for a while."

At the time, Microsoft expected partners seeking a general-purpose competency would obtain the then-new Midmarket Solutions Provider Competency.

"Instead, midmarket-focused partners have been choosing to get more specialized competencies and approach customers as Business Intelligence Competency partners or Portals and Collaboration Competency partners," Bekker said. (See "The Microsoft Partner Network's On-Again, Off-Again Small Business Competency.")

In December 2011, soon after the MPN's one-year anniversary, Julie Bennani, general manager of the Microsoft Partner Network, told partners that Microsoft was resurrecting the Small Business Competency.

"We will keep the Small Business Specialist Community (SBSC) in market, but based on your feedback and your request that we elevate that space to the equivalent level of the other competencies, we are planning on doing that this spring," Bennani said at the time. With Thursday's announcement, Microsoft has pushed the spring launch date to summer.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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