When you already have a successful channel model which utilises all the traditional communication mediums, how do boost your ability to impart information and knowledge? Blog and start your own TV show. At least that’s what Microsoft has done.
Since winning inaugural Software Vendor of the Year at the ARN IT Industry Awards last year, the Microsoft team has taken to blogging and broadcasting its own TV show to get the message out to its 14,000 partners.
“Last year we saw, under the direction of Nick Mayhew [Microsoft group manager of partner strategy and marketing], a real focus on communicating with partners in different ways,” Microsoft director of small and mid-market solutions and partner group, Paul Voges, said. “Even at a local level, Partner TV and the blogs we have developed have been a really good way for us to reach out to partners in ways that suit them.
“The great thing about the blogs is we have seen the scenario where if we need to get a message out to the partner community pretty quickly, then the blogging sites and Partner TV gives us a way to access that broad channel quickly. When you are a 14,000-partner organisation, there are a lot of people that need to know the information. So it gave us a real rapid response rate and allowed partners to give us feedback, which is really positive.”
And with Microsoft again taking out the Software Vendor of the Year, it would appear the approach has been successful.
“When you get an award one year, to backup the next year is always a tough thing – because if you have one great year as a software vendor, despite the growth in the market, you’ve got to do something really right to get in again,” Voges said.
“I think the key things that helped us get the award a second time was first the channel ecosystem we have in place, and the strength of it. Whether it is the OEMs, the system integrators, the resellers, the software vendors that are writing applications on our platforms or the hosters – we see them all growing strongly. We feel comfortable with the channel process we have and it was probably one of the biggest underpinning areas of our strength last year.”
The company has also placed a large focus on business readiness and implemented several new competencies and online tools for partners to use, particularly around marketing, sales and human resources.
“The shift in focus for us in the last 12 months was really starting to get clear on readiness,” Voges said. “We have put a lot of focus through the partner program in terms of driving development of readiness through competencies. We’ve also created more tools for partners to be able to market their business more effectively.