Microsoft has unveiled two schemes it hopes will help ISVs piggyback on its partner network to forge business and technology partnerships of their own.
Speaking at a Microsoft partner briefing yesterday, Microsoft partner group director, Kerstin Baxter, said the Channel Builder and Business Builder programs aim to helping ISVs realise greater returns on their business development investments, and create their own channels to market.
"Succeeding as an ISV is a challenge today," Baxter said. "Software development is a substantial investment, not to mention today's competitive market where customers require more specialised solutions to meet their business needs.”
“Our goal is to enable our partners with everything we can to help them overcome these challenges and build a successful business. That is why we have invested considerably in this community with technical support, training, software rebates and marketing development funds." Under the Channel Builder program, Microsoft will provide more than 20 structured networking events around Australia and a global online networking tool for those with international aspirations. It aims to connect Microsoft’s Gold and Certified ISVs with systems integrators and reseller partners.
“It’s also a great opportunity for you to take a better solution to customers,” Baxter said.
Technology partnerships could extend ISV solutions into industry verticals, she said.
The web-based networking tool will go live in July. It will profile companies by industry and specialisation and will offer chat rooms, bulletin boards, event registration and e-commerce functionality. The tool will also feature a partner portal with comprehensive information from Microsoft including contacts, product information, marketing collateral, and technical resources.
The Business Builder program will offer online business modules, tools and 30 templates with the aim of helping develop ISV's business managers and enhance the skills of existing managers.
The programs would help ISVs make decisions on go-to-market strategies. These included addressing the questions of whether to sell direct or use partners.
“We want to extend it to have the opportunity to facilitate customer interest and create the channels as well,” Baxter said.
Microsoft will also coach ISVs via its Software Business Management course, which begins this month. The course, developed with the Southern Cross University, will provide a national distance-education business management course ISVs, is the first deliverable as part of the Business Builder program.
As the first networking initiative for the program, Microsoft’s Sydney partner briefing had a mini-trade show of nine ISV partners, including Infra, Bullseye, Gray Corp, Red Oxygen, Acaze, BNS Group and BondWireless.
One of the first participants helping to kick off Microsoft’s networking campaign is wireless application service provider, BondWireless. General manager of business development, Charlie Cheng, said his company, which is a certified Microsoft .NET partner, was on board with the channel builder program to look for partners interested in working with its desktop to SMS communications tool, Campaign Messenger.
“We thought it would be a good networking opportunity for partnerships, or leads,” Cheng said. “We’re looking for resellers, distributors or systems integrators. We can integrate our SMS capability into their solution, or they can develop applications using our API [application programming interface].”
Baxter said Microsoft Australia had invested $4 million in the ISV community in 2003.