Microsoft ramps up competitive focus for partner growth

Microsoft ramps up competitive focus for partner growth

Microsoft will focus directly on partner growth as part of an increasing drive to beat competitors in a shrinking local market.

At its partner awards ceremony in Auckland last week, the local business’ managing director Kevin Ackhurst said the software vendor had achieved many wins, but wanted to build on this success with greater emphasis on competition.

“Going forward, we will focus more strongly on winning share and competing. This has been a hard year and we’ve seen the challenges you’ve been facing. We believe there’s a fundamental reset in the economy, particularly here in New Zealand, and the size of the market has decreased, so there has been an increasing focus on competition moving forward.

Ackhurst says his company has grown in double digits in the past year, and satisfaction ratings among partners and customers have increased “fairly substantially in all categories across the board”.

He says the vendor will “work to focus explicitly on the direct result between your [partners’] growth and our growth”, adding the large pipeline of new products will present opportunities for partners. These include Windows Server R2 and Windows 7.

Partner group director Brent Colbert says there were such high quality entries in three categories in the local awards, that more than one winner was selected, while there were a couple of awards where no winner was selected.

The awards process was “mystery shopped”, with the inclusion of an entry from the global partner awards, which was placed third behind two New Zealand entries, he says.

Dick Smith Electronics, and its account manager at Microsoft, each received an award, with account manager Lisa Urquhart winning the Partner’s Choice Award.

Dick Smith won the Reseller of the Year prize from among three finalists, with the judges saying the retailer delivered strong growth across Microsoft’s retail portfolio. “Driving Office attach has been a key focus for Dick Smith over the past year and they have achieved this by promoting a significant range of PCs bundled with Office, and ensuring that the right level of advertising and in-store presence is in place to support this.”

Wellington-based Intergen won the Business Productivity: Enterprise Content Management Solution of the Year award, following last year’s Supreme Award win.

Managing director Tony Stewart says this year’s award endorses its commitment to Microsoft technologies over the past 10 years.

“It’s also a validation of Intergen’s strengths in Enterprise Content Management,” he says.

The company also won finalist placings in the CRM and ERP Solution of the Year categories, along with the Software Solution.

The judges commented that Intergen’s ECM solution demonstrated how a customer “can be taken from the chaos of an unstructured data environment to a world of increased employee productivity”.

Fronde Systems, meanwhile, won the Community Impact Solution prize for its work on the Ministry of Education’s Enrolment Management System (Enrol). The system is web-based, and allows schools to update enrolment information in real time, automating what was previously a paper-based process across many schools, by different third party organisations.

``Enrol is a great example of the smart use of Microsoft technologies,’’ says Dominic Stow, Fronde’ general manager of strategy services.

Award judges say the system has led to efficiencies in the education sector and helped identify “a lost tribe” of as many as 5000 students, who were missing out on continuous education.

There were three prizes for individuals this year, including Partners’ Choice, the Licensing Star of the Year and the Solution Star of the Year.

The judges noted that Licensing Star winner Jo Meban (above) of Gen-i demonstrated skills, leadership and initiative to help the customer see the financial advantages of moving from disparate and piecemeal licensing, to a single agreement with an integrated suite of technologies.

Solutions Star winner Geoff Clow of Axon was complimented by the judges for the valuable insights he provided into available options for a customer in the process of migration.

“He was able to quickly grasp the business requirements. The customer was able to leverage Geoff to sift through the complex licensing options and determine the best licensing methodology,” they commented.

There was no supreme award this year, with Microsoft citing the expanded number of categories available, however Axon won the most awards with four.

Several companies won two awards, including Datasouth, Datacom and Gen-i.

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