The Australian channel will soon have the opportunity to leverage one of the world's most popular Web sites to generate more leads for their businesses.
Microsoft plans later this year to roll out a ramped up channel program that will generate and forward more leads to its partners, and give its worldwide solution provider network a higher profile at www.microsoft.com.
But the move could just be a sweetener to soften channel reaction as the vendor continues to roll out its Nitro (New Interactive Technology for Resellers Online) strategy across the world.
Microsoft officials last week played down concerns about a possible conflict from the e-commerce plans.
Cheaper via the channel
"We are about to open our own e-commerce site, but that will drive people to the channel," claimed Mark Thomas, Microsoft's manager for field marketing strategy and integration. "We will tell people: 'If you buy from us, it will be at a top premium and cost you the most.'"Thomas assured ARN that it will actually be cheaper to purchase products via the channel and indeed links on the Microsoft site will forward customers to the e-commerce sites of nearby resellers or distributors.
"Some resellers will have e-commerce sites," Thomas said. "And others will have distributors to manage sites for them."
Also, by the end of this year, the company will begin implementing two other new programs designed to drive more business through the channel. Firstly, Microsoft's certified solution providers will be able to better leverage Microsoft's hugely popular Web site to reap more customers.
"We have a lot of people come into our site, but it's not at the centre of what we do," says Rich Glew, Microsoft's marketing manager for DNS.
"So we've been under-utilising the Web and not cranking enough people into the referral engine."
Soon though, the company's channel partners will be more visible on the site and enquiries more effectively routed to them for follow up, Glew claims.
Microsoft is also stepping up support of its partners in an effort to garner more mindshare for its Digital Nervous System (DNS) initiative.
The concept, which has become the foundation for Microsoft's strategy going forward, can only work if organisations run network-connected PCs which have integrated software loaded onto them.
According to officials, the three key elements of DNS are Microsoft, its partners and customers. By helping its partners, Microsoft hopes to also yield benefits from its customers.
"The first big thrust we're going to make is with our certified solution provider partners," Glew said. "And what we want to do is drive a lot more meaningful leads to them from the DNS campaign."
"We also want them to deliver the DNS pitch without Microsoft even being around."
Naomi Jackson travelled to Seattle as a guest of Microsoft Australia