- IN DEPTH: Full wrap of Microsoft World Partner Conference 2010 - news, interviews, slideshows
First up, congratulations on your win – Zap Technology is having a good week.
Garth Laird (GL): Yes, absolutely. What people don't realise is to win partner of the year is a pretty big thing when you're not a Microsoft partner. By that I mean we're an ISV, so we're creating other products that we sell around Microsoft's and not selling its products per se. So to win the award as an ISV is a pretty big deal.
Why do you think you got the award this year around?
GL: Last year, we won the Global Innovation Award – and that was awarded to an organisation that has created a technology that allows Microsoft to compete better in collaboration with its partner base, so the products we've built are really helping to drive Microsoft licenses, especially in their Dynamics division.
I think we won this year's award because this year there's quite a lot of tangible evidence that when you put together a BI product, such as a ERP or CRM solution, people expect that you can enter transactions into a general ledger into a contact record or purchase order or sales order – they expect that basic stuff to be there.
What they're buying now is the ability to analyse and run their businesses, and that's what we do. I think we won the award because of the investments we've put in and the fact we've gone global over the last few years which has been pretty hard.
How have you found the conference so far? What's been of interest to you?
GL: It's pretty obvious that the world of IT is changing, in software anyway. This whole move to the cloud is almost fanatical, and what I find is you can see the sense of it, you can see the cost savings, but there's still a little dislocation between what customer's expectations are, what partners understand and what the technology can actually deliver, business models and cash flows.
I think this is a massive change – a business like Microsoft sells products through its partners, and historically those partners sell perpetual licenses of software and they get all the money up front and they do the servicing and they get a renewal license every year.
When you go to the cloud, it's a user pays thing so all that money up front gets split across maybe three years, and all the partners and businesses are built around getting the money up front. So it will be interesting to see how they manage that.
As for the conference in general, there are more people here than last year – I think last year was a difficult one for obvious reasons, and overall it's been pretty good.
Steve Ballmer's theme from yesterday was interesting – 'You haven't got much choice if you're a partner'.
GL: No you don't. When you decide to attach to a mega vendor like Microsoft, you don't really have a say in strategy, you only have a say in execution. As long as you go in knowing that then you're probably not going to get run over.
With any of these paradigm shifts, you end up with a few casualties and a whole lot of opportunities, and it depends on which side of the ledge you end up on.