Microsoft it would seem are somewhat concerned over the furore in the community over their recent contact with SMB customers. Honestly – I think a large part is a storm in a tea cup and it’s diverting us from other things that we should be focusing on.
Earlier today, I received a phone call from the head honcho of MS Australia’s SMB Team. Inese Kingsmill has taken the time out of her day to contact me about the concerns that many are expressing in the community over this letter. I’m actually sorry that she had to do this – there are far greater things she should and could be doing to make life better for us all in the SMB community.
My feedback to her was that I was not concerned over MS contacting our customers directly. I was more concerned that we the valued MS Partner channel were not aware that it was happening and that this made it look like them moving in on our customers. Combine this with the timing of the announcement of the new online services from Microsoft makes it look like a play for our customer base. The conspiracy theorist around would have you think that it’s the plan to take us all out of the picture ASAP. She assured me that it was coincidental and to be honest, I believe her. I don’t think Microsoft can be as organised as we like to think to do something like that. That’s not criticism there but fact of life, Microsoft are a large business and too often the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. Heck – we have that in our own small business’ at times with more than one staff member.
So – what could MS have done to make this a non event?
#1 – Notify the partner channel that it was happening in advance. You could have done this via email, your blog, or at the partner events that are held. Give us an idea that you’re doing this and what the aims are and as far as I’m concerned, it’s all good.
#2 – Mention the partner channel in the communication as the source for further information. This will refer people back to the channel. Microsoft have spent lots of time invested in the SBSC, and Certified Partner programs and they want US to value the partner program. The only way it has value to US is if our customers know and understand it as valuable in the first place. In every correspondence that Microsoft has with our customers they should be referring them back to US as the source of more information. That shows the customer that Microsoft value us as partners. Everyone knows the value of an accountant being a CPA, but in our industry, I don’t believe that our customers know the value of being an SBSC, or a Certified Partner simply because it’s not advertised. There have been many examples in the past where Microsoft could have done more with this but they have not. How many accountants do YOU know that are not CPA’s? When will we get to this level in the IT Industry and weed out those incompetent fools that give us all a bad name?
Thank you Inese for taking the time to touch base on this. I hope that you and your team can learn from this. If they can then we as the SMB community (of which Microsoft is a big part) can all benefit in the long run.