Microsoft Gold Certified partners have brushed off concerns over losing their top-dog title after the vendor made massive changes to its partner program.
At its Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans this week, the software vendor announced an extreme makeover for its partner program, abandoning its gold, certified and general register tiers in favour of a competency-based structure.
For QBT managing director, Tony Banks, the Gold Certification has long lost its prestige. He said the bar to becoming a Gold partner has been lowered, which has caused an over-saturation of certified companies in the market.
“Microsoft went from around 30 Gold partners three or four years ago to hundreds, so it has lost a lot of its credibility,” Banks said.
While he was not concerned at the program change to a competency compliance model, Banks was especially irked over QBT’s investment in attaining certification.
He said a lot of time and thousands of dollars were spent on the current partner program including the training of several staff to sit exams on a regular basis just to maintain the Gold Certification.
Besides the loss of investment, Banks saw minimal impact to the business as a result of the program overhaul.
“We are already known for our customer relations management (CRM) competencies than our Gold Certified status,” he said. “I think our clients are more interested in the fact that we know what we are doing than if we have a gold symbol or not.
“I think the Gold qualified issue is more to do with internal Microsoft marketing to its partners.”
Another company unperturbed by the lost of the Gold logo was Dimension Data. While the company saw the certification as good from a branding perspective, it lauded the new program’s qualification scheme.
“From our side, we’re confident that we’re going to be able to meet the competency levels that we need in Australia,” Dimension Data corporate communications manager, Martin Aungle, said. “What is key to this program is education and awareness that Microsoft can do with the end-user community, which means to be engaged with competent partners.”
Other reseller and integrator partners contacted by ARN had not been made aware of the program changes at time of publication.
More details of the new program and how it will affect the Australian channel are expected to be announced at the Australian Partner Conference in September.