Small business partners gain recognition

Small business partners gain recognition

It may be the poor, fledgling cousin of Microsoft's higher-end product divisions, but according to group director, Kevin Burke, the small business market presents a wealth of opportunity for its partners.

Speaking at the conference, Burke said Microsoft had not given as much attention to certifying and rewarding its small business partners as those across its other business divisions.

"We are unable to identify those housing skilled services which address such customers," he said.

Adding to this statement, small- to medium-business server product manager for Microsoft Australia, David Allinson, said partners working in the small business segment boasted vastly different skills to those focused on the mid-market.

"In the small business space, you are all things to that customer," he said. "It's not fair on our part to split such providers into VARs, services consultants, OEM, resellers and so on."

As recognition of the different role small business partners play, Allinson said Microsoft was in the process of drafting a new competency in small business solutions.

This would be used to identify partners retaining specific knowledge applicable to small businesses, he said.

The program, which is being piloted in Canada and the US, is expected to be launched in Australia by April.

A partner summit focusing on small business has also been scheduled for November.

Burke said Microsoft would also introduce new marketing material which concentrated on business solutions rather than specific technologies or products.

"We're looking for partners to sell by magic modules," he said. "For example, focus on how a product suite will allow you to work from home.

"Partners need to talk about the business issue rather than the technical issue. With small business, you are not talking to a technologist."

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