Reseller News

Microsoft shelves partner conference, extends awards

The popularity of Microsoft’s local Connectionz partner conference has not prevented it from being consigned to the history books – for this year at least.

Although it received positive feedback on the event, which was held for the first time in Auckland last September, Microsoft has decided not to repeat it this year.

Instead it plans to “go out” to partners through a series of regional events, says partner group manager Nick Fletcher.

“The feedback we had from partners indicates that we need to go out to them – instead of making them come to us.”

While still deciding on the format and branding of the new events, Fletcher says they will contain the same content that Microsoft would have delivered through a conference.

But, they will be more targeted to different audiences, says Fletcher. “We plan to have events that are more targeted to partners who we maybe did not reach with the conference.”

The company also plans to offer more content aimed at independent software vendors (ISVs). “The plan is to understand the ISV community better and make the events more relevant for them.”

However, the changes do not affect Microsoft’s partner awards, also introduced last year and held alongside the partner conference.

The awards will be the vendor’s flagship partner event this year and will take place on August 14 in an extended format, says Fletcher.

Three categories have been added, taking the total number of awards to 15. The new categories are Application Platform Solution of the Year, Microsoft Software plus Services Solution of the Year and Microsoft Rising Star, which could be awarded to either a company or an individual, says Fletcher.

Winner of last year’s Overall Partner Solution award, Wellington-based Provoke Solutions has welcomed the changes.

Managing director Mason Pratt says he is keen to see Microsoft engage the partner network more directly. “We think it is a more effective use of that budget and their time if it is going to grow our capability and opportunities.”

Sending people from Wellington to an Auckland-based event can also be a costly exercise, says Pratt, adding that while the content at the partner conference was very broad, it would be more refined with the new events. “When we talk to Microsoft in a more intimate setting and about the technology that is going to drive business for us, it is much more effective.”