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Q&A with the CEO of RCP Rocket Award Winner Quisitive

The results of the sixth annual RCP Rocket Awards are in, and the winner is 3-year-old Microsoft technology giant Quisitive Technology Solutions Inc.

The award, sponsored by Redmond Channel Partner and Revenue Rocket Consulting Group, is open to all U.S.-based Microsoft partners with annual revenues between $5 million and $100 million, and whose innovative business strategies resulted in sustained growth over three years. While metrics of growth are a key factor, an equally important factor is innovative and sustainable business strategies.

Quisitive, with offices in Dallas, Denver, Ottawa and Toronto, meets the growth metrics, but is also trying to fill what it sees as a market need for a scale partner with a 100 percent focus on Microsoft technologies. We caught up with founder, CEO and Board Director Mike Reinhart, a longtime Microsoft channel veteran, for an interview last month about the company's strategy and positioning. The transcript is lightly edited for clarity.

RCP: What was the idea behind Quisitive and how was the company formed?
Reinhart: Microsoft has moved to leading with the cloud. What that means to the enterprise is there is a need for a different kind of partner team. We have this philosophy of start, right, finish, right. The whole purpose of the company is to create this mechanism to really help our customers and, as an agent with Microsoft, go drive and help organizations understand the journey to the cloud. What does that look like to move to the cloud?

But then, more importantly, the baseline is then how to operate in the cloud, and how that changes everything from skills to how they manage and operate. Then the next phase is really about innovating in the cloud to create a new business model. So we're really this expert on the Microsoft cloud platform that helps them through that whole cloud journey.

What's your current strategy for delivering business value around the Microsoft technology stack?
Our strategy is multifaceted. One is we see this need, and really have been led by Microsoft to see this need around [enterprises requiring] a different type of partner to emerge. [Microsoft needs] a scale partner to emerge in their ecosystem. They have this highly fragmented community that have point solution capabilities, where they might be able to cover one aspect of the platform or provide certain services around the cloud. What we're really trying to do is create a scale partner across North America. We're doing that through our organic motion to take our expertise around the Microsoft cloud and modern workplace and Azure and expand that into Dynamics and the three cloud pillars from Microsoft.

But in addition to the organic growth and things that we've been doing with Microsoft is an aggressive M&A strategy. So we've gone public on the Toronto Venture Exchange late last year and we executed our first acquisition [June 5] with Corporate Renaissance Group Inc. [CRG], based out of Canada. That was a complement to that strategy, both in terms of geographic reach, but also their specialization in the Microsoft Dynamics cloud platform, really giving us the foundation of all three clouds and our ability to take that to market.

"Winning or losing with Microsoft is my philosophy after partnering with Microsoft nearly 30 years now. They have a great footprint in the enterprise already and a much longer history than an Amazon or Google or somebody else. They have established relationships. We think they have the best product offer holistically across all the different pillars of the cloud."

Mike Reinhart, Founder and CEO, Quisitive

How far along are you in the acquisition strategy?
We're just getting started. We've really been developing what I call our playbook for acquisitions, both in terms of how we structure our deals, as well as how we build up a profile of the acquisition targets that we're looking at. Again, it goes back to things like geographic expansion and being able to have sales execution regionally distributed across North America with Microsoft to engage with the customer.

We're in phase one, where we built out that playbook. CRG is the first acquisition that we brought into the family, and we're looking to do two to three of those a year to continue to build and scale the business. Part of that strategy in going public on the Toronto Venture Exchange is having a capital market to support the acquisition process and use that as a vehicle to help fund that element of the growth strategy.

One of the things that stood out to us on the selection committee was your cloud assessment programs. Can you tell us a little about the process behind those?
It's always a challenge for customers understanding some basic things, right? What is it? What does that look like? How much is it going to cost me to actually make the move to the cloud? What's it going to do? What's my ROI going to be once I'm operating in the cloud? How do I actually take advantage and not have it just be about this cost and management piece, but rather about how do I really get things into the cloud and start thinking about key applications where I might be able to innovate in the cloud?

So we developed a process where we go out and have a programmatic approach. We assess their current environments but then also do some very specific things around ROI analysis. We understand their current costs, and the cost to move to the cloud. We look at, and do, what we call application rationalization, looking at their portfolio of applications. That's everything. It includes Windows Server end-of-life and SQL Server end-of-life and support, and what implications those have from a security perspective. It includes understanding how they might modernize those applications to take advantage of new capabilities in the cloud.

We do all that and put together a three-year roadmap for customers to help them understand how to establish the right foundation in the cloud. That way a customer will be able to go through their approval processes to understand not just what the first step looks like, but what the entire journey looks like.

On market positioning, you mentioned Microsoft has a need for national-scale organizations like the one you're building. How do you position yourself against some of the big systems integrators like IBM, DXC and Accenture/Avanade?

M&A Panel at Inspire

Going to Microsoft Inspire next week in Las Vegas? Mike Reinhart will be one of the expert panelists at the Revenue Rocket discussion for Microsoft partners, "M&A Done Right," in an event adjacent to the conference. The 2 p.m.-4 p.m. event on Tuesday, July 16, will be at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Islander I, and will include the panel and a cocktail and networking hour.

Panelists include Brent Combest, a general manager within the Microsoft One Commercial Partner organization; Mike Reinhart, CEO, Quisitive Technology Solutions; Axel Schulz, managing partner with EUROCON Consultants; Kyle Reesing, principal, Strattam Capital; and Linda Rose, retired Microsoft partner and author of "Get Acquired for Millions: A Roadmap for Technology Service Providers to Maximize Company Value." Mike Harvath, CEO of Revenue Rocket Consulting Group, will moderate the panel.

Register here.

With those partners, there's no question they have meaningful Microsoft service capabilities. But in most cases, it might only represent 25 percent of their total revenues. And the other mix of revenues that they have are going to be competitive platforms -- Google, Amazon, IBM, Oracle, whatever that might be. It's kind of this interesting relationship they have with Microsoft. So some accounts, they're tightly integrated, and others, they might actually be competing with Microsoft, right? So that's one element.

The second is those much larger integrators are dealing with the much larger enterprises. They're servicing that top 10 percent, or so. But there's that next tier -- the Microsoft enterprise accounts and the small, medium and corporate (SMC) account space -- that is not being served by that community. And from Microsoft, again, this is a key place where they need scale to emerge so that instead of in each region, or each city, they have to deal with tens of partners to try to engage customers, they can deal with a limited number of those to create efficiency on their sales side.

From a customer lens, this is also really important. One of the things that I got feedback from my customers on is they don't like having to have one partner helping them with maybe their Dynamics CRM, a different partner helping them move their datacenter to Infrastructure as a Service, and a third partner that might be helping them modernize their applications in a different way. It puts the burden on them to integrate that experience for bringing value to their transformation that they're trying to create. They want a partner that can do that. So we think there's this high need, and Microsoft has confirmed it for me in many, many conversations, to create that in the enterprise and upper-level SMC space, in particular.

How do you see partnering with Microsoft within that larger market for IT services? Is it a case where if you specialize in Microsoft technology, the whole market is still available to you just because they're such a significant player? Or do you view it as sort of playing within a significant subset with a lot of room for growth?
Winning or losing with Microsoft is my philosophy after partnering with Microsoft nearly 30 years now. They have a great footprint in the enterprise already and a much longer history than an Amazon or Google or somebody else. They have established relationships. We think they have the best product offer holistically across all the different pillars of the cloud. For us, it's a great opportunity for us to go win with them and there's significant growth opportunity.

When you're modernizing applications, it doesn't mean -- and this aligns with the [Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella] vision and how he's changed the business -- you're only modernizing using traditional Microsoft technologies. You might be using open source capability but then running it in Azure. We think Microsoft is the best-quality partner for us. We can be focused and really good at what we do, rather than having people one day working on Microsoft cloud and on a different day on Amazon cloud.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 08, 2019


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