Microsoft is highlighting its new PinPoint platform as a key partner initiative going forward.
The Web-based service, expected to be made available to the public in Q1 2010, will feature a database of Microsoft's quality value-adding partners searchable across a number of fields including vertical and horizontal market segments. It has been designed to help customers find the most appropriate partner.
"We're finding customers are getting more demanding, and finding the right partner can generate a better ROI for them," Microsoft director of partner strategy and programs, Inese Kingsmill, said. "The experience we're providing at the moment is not great, based on feedback from customers and partners. Considering how popular the Microsoft website is, it is missing an opportunity. PinPoint was developed with that in mind."
Australia is the fourth nation to adopt PinPoint behind the original launch in the US 13 months ago, and the UK and Netherlands earlier this year.
Microsoft will begin filling out the database by looking at Gold certified and certified partners first, followed by registered partners. The vendor will be selective about who will be put in the database, Kingsmill said.
"We won't have all of our 13,000 partners in the PinPoint database," she said. "I would expect over time that there would be only 3000 to 4000 quality partners."
The vendor has also kicked off a round of education sessions as it sets partners up for migration to the new Partner Network Kingsmill said responses had generally been positive.
"We've spent the past couple of weeks visiting all states and territories except for Tasmania and the Northern Territory," she said. "All up, we've spoken to 300 registered partners."
Once partners become familiar and understand the process for migration, they are happy with the new program, Kingsmill claimed.
"The investments that have been made in terms of certifications will rollover into the Network," she said. "It's important that our partners know that and don't stop making the investments.
"The other important thing to note is we're setting the bar higher in terms of what it takes to be certified, so we don't want our partners to leave it until the last minute."
The criteria for being certified will be announced in September, with requirements for advanced certification made available in October.
"The key message behind the new certifications is that partners will not need to make broader investments in non-core areas of their business just to obtain the requisite number of points to earn a gold certification," Kingsmill said.
"We're evolving out the points based system entirely in favour of the new criteria.”
Matthew Sainsbury travelled to Microsoft Partner Summit as a guest of Microsoft.