Monday, 15 December 2008

Microsoft Software + Services Partner Training and Info Site

This link: Software + Services Partner Evolution Interactive Guide came to us via LinkedIn:

Software + Services Microsoft Partner Site

You will need a Live ID to sign in.

So, what is the big deal with Software + Services anyway?!?

There are so many very passionate voices about how good or how bad the S+S model will be for us Microsoft Partners ... especially us small I.T. shops.

For us, the equation is quite simple. While Microsoft and others may be able to delve into our client's realm with their products and services to some degree, they do not have the resources to be the face behind everything.

For the ultra small businesses, S+S makes sense since there is very little contact with a primary I.T. services provider in the first place. Retail tends to be the only contact when the hardware fails or the software needs to be upgraded.

For those businesses that have a Trusted Advisor for their I.T. needs that may also provide the infrastructure components such as hardware and software, the idea of transitioning their payments to Microsoft or other S+S providers may be good sense, or may not be. The key in this equation is the Trusted Advisor.

Part of the reason we are trusted in the first place is the fact that we have put our client's I.T. needs before ours. The deeper the business relationship grows and the longer in duration, the more that trust builds between business owner/contact and the Trusted Advisor. This is a natural progression in any relationship.

The key to all of this is how to maintain that trust with the business owner. If we do not keep our heads about is, get caught up in the emotional and painful vision of what we see coming (whether that perception is correct or not is another story), we very well could lose that Trusted Advisor status.

We need to remember that our clients as small business owners may not be totally technically savvy, but they have a head on their shoulders that is very keenly tuned to the needs of their business on all fronts. That is a prerequisite for a small business owner. We all need to be conscious of all aspects of how our business is doing.

If that business owner sees their Trusted Advisor losing perspective on the whole Software + Services situation - remember, the business sense is tingling in the business owner's mind at this point - there very well could be a falling out between the two. In the end, this situation is a lose-lose.

The business owner loses because the Trusted Advisor knows their business and can learn how to tie into the new S+S model to meet their business needs.

The Trusted Advisor loses a client and may take a serious hit against their reputation and referral business among other pain points.

As difficult as this situation may be, we need to delve into discovering just what S+S can do for us and our I.T. services company. We need to see just how we can incorporate S+S into our solutions toolbox to provide the best solution for our client's needs.

One of the most difficult lessons those of us that run a small I.T. business need to learn is, "It is not about me". It is about "us". That "Us" is a combination of our clients and the small team of people within the I.T. business (in our case it is Monique, my dad, and myself along with some freelance technical help) along with the vendors and others who support the Partner in their abilities to provide solutions based on their technologies.

Change is afoot folks.

With the economy doing wacky things, and everything seemingly hanging in a precarious balance, we need to be looking out for the best interests of our clients. If their business is threatened by the current volatile business climate, then we need to be a part of the solution that keeps them afloat. S+S may indeed provide an avenue for that to happen.

The other alternative is to sign the SPLA and design solutions around it and the services offered in the Cloud.

A fellow I once worked with when very young in my days and ways once told me, "Struggle and Change are Opportunities". I did not get it then, but the saying stuck with me.

Today, as a small business owner watching world events unfold around us along with the massive changes happening within our industry of choice, the saying is a huge Pearl.

We have an opportunity of untold magnitude lying before us. How things pan out based on how we leverage that opportunity is totally up to us.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.

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