FOUR local Microsoft partners have been selected to take part in the pilot phase of a new technology demonstration centre the software vendor is launching in Auckland next Friday.
Axon, Computerland, Datacom and Gen-i have been chosen by Microsoft New Zealand as key partners to use its new Business Productivity Centre, where customers are shown real-life scenarios that demonstrate how organisations around the world are benefiting from Microsoft’s Office system.
The centre is only the second of its kind to open outside the United States, after Bangkok; the success of which prompted Microsoft NZ to push for the establishment of a similar facility at its Auckland head office.
The only other similar facility exists in Seattle, near the corporation’s head office in Redmond.
According to Microsoft NZ sales and marketing director Paul Muckleston, the company will promote the centre mainly through the four selected partners for the initial six-month pilot phase, after which more partners are likely to be included.
Muckleston says these partners were chosen as Microsoft wants to initially target larger medium-sized and enterprise organisations, but says other partners whose customers are interested in visiting the centre will not be turned away.
The main focus of the centre will be to help reseller partners and CIOs better articulate the business value of Microsoft’s Office system, which Muckleston says has become a more complex suite of products in recent years.
Traditional marketing activities are therefore not effective in communicating the business value and productivity to be gained from the technology, he adds.
“People need to touch, see and experience the technology,” says Muckleston.
Speaking from Singapore, Chris Atkinson, Microsoft Asia-Pacific vice president of sales and marketing, says the centre is designed to be a catalyst of new opportunities for Microsoft partners who can show their customers industry-specific scenarios of how other organisations are achieving business productivity with Microsoft technology.
The key message will be that Office is no longer just a personal productivity tool, but can achieve individual, team and organisational productivity through collaborative tools and connecting backend and desktop Office applications.
“It is designed to be an immersive exper-ience. We will show customers scenarios that resonate with them of how other organisations use the technology,” says Atkinson, who was instrumental in establishing both the local and Thai centres.
He adds that in Thailand visits to the centre by customers with their partners generally lead to sales after two or three visits.
Atkinson foresees a network of centres across the Asia-Pacific region, which collaborate and are linked to the original facility in Seattle, with an Australian centre expected to open early in the new year.
Microsoft NZ has hired a dedicated person, who can’t yet be named, to run the centre, which will be opened on November 19 by Orlando Ayala, Microsoft’s senior small and mid-market solutions and partner group vice-president.