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Microsoft Gets Surprise Appeal: Pitch MPN Competencies to Customers

It's not every day you get to put Microsoft on the spot in front of a live audience of a few hundred people. So when Andy Vabulas saw his chance to make a plug for an investment to benefit a lot of MPN competency partners like his own company, he took it.

Vabulas, CEO of IBIS Inc., was invited to appear on a Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference stage with Julie Bennani, the general manager of the Microsoft Partner Network, last week in Toronto.

Vabulas went through his scripted portion, discussing the multiple tens of thousands of dollars that multiple-Microsoft-award-winning IBIS has saved over the years through MPN benefits.

Bennani thanked Vabulas for his directness and constructive criticism over the years. With that opening, Vabulas piped right up. "I have an ask," he said.

"I wish that in the next year, that Microsoft would really take the competencies and drive them out to our customers so they really get to know what it means for us to invest, for us to have a gold competency, for us to have a silver competency, so it really lands out in the marketplace," Vabulas said, adding jokingly, "I have a dream, that that would happen."

Bennani appeared surprised by the timing of Vabulas' request, although not by the content of it. Many partners have asked for the same thing since Microsoft drastically raised the bar for silver and gold competencies in 2010 compared to the old requirements to be a Microsoft Certified or Gold Certified Partner. Bennani's colleagues on Microsoft global channel chief Jon Roskill's leadership team have said in the past they were considering customer-focused advertising campaigns to promote the value of competency partners.

Bennani pointed out that in addition to broad air cover advertising for Microsoft products, the field sellers are doing a much better job than in the past of making connections between customers and partners with competencies. "The alignment is fantastic," Bennani said.

At the same time, Bennani promised to escalate Vabulas' concern. "I will take [it up] with Mr. Roskill," she said.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 19, 2012