December 1, 2011
Why Work with a Microsoft Partner?
Why should businesses hire a Microsoft certified and qualified partner for service and support? Is being a member of the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) just a designer label, or is it the sign of a company that can offer business customers real value and reduced operating costs? We asked Geeman Yip, CEO of MigrationWiz, a partner delivering software as a service (SaaS) solutions, to explain how Microsoft customers can benefit from working with a partner.
Q: Geeman, what makes a Microsoft partner special?
A: Being a partner basically tells everyone that we’re good at what we do and that our product is up to Microsoft’s own standards. It’s Microsoft saying that these guys really do know what they’re talking about. We’re not saying we know every Microsoft product. But every partner listed on Microsoft Pinpoint has a specialty. Ours is Microsoft Exchange—email.
It’s just like finding anything. You need some sort of directory to find someone to help you if you have a problem. If you need to find an electrician, you’re going to go to the Yellow Pages. Pinpoint provides that directory, a way to filter through all the noise to find the expert you’re looking for.
Q: What can a Microsoft partner do that my own staff can’t?
A: Most people don’t know how to use every single Microsoft product. Plus, every installment of every product is different on every computer. Everyone has a different deployment and different customization that they need.
The permutations are humongous. The same software installed on many computers is not created equal. And you also have to consider the other software that it interacts with.
As a partner, we understand all the various configurations and all the various permutations of that product because that’s what we do, and that’s all we do. We also understand how the product we specialize in interacts with numerous other products, and we can help you customize Microsoft products to fit your particular needs.
Q: But I thought these products were supposed to be easy to use? Why does Microsoft need partners?
A: Most people don’t realize the power of the software they buy and only use it for a fraction of a percent of what it’s capable of. A partner will walk you through all the relevant possibilities and give IT recommendations based on your particular business goals.
Microsoft as a software company doesn’t necessarily provide these customization services to individuals and businesses. Partners are the ones who understand all the various customer scenarios and can provide the necessary customized support. A partner will explain the potential of the software a customer has invested in or is considering investing in. We bridge the gap between the customer and Microsoft.
As a customer, you can then take all that information and make your own decisions. That could result in you buying more software because doing so will reduce your operational costs. Or, instead of buying five new pieces of software, a partner’s recommendation could lead you to buy less, or to consolidate the software you already have, or to automate a particular process so you have more time to focus on your business. At the end of the day, partners are about helping customers save money and make their business more efficient.
Q: Do partners get special access to Microsoft that IT consultants who aren’t partners don't get?
A: Microsoft definitely does give us some inside access and inside knowledge into some products because we need to do things that the ordinary person doesn’t do.
We’re also privy to the direction and future of Microsoft products. This helps us plan future versions of the solutions we offer, helps us ensure they align with Microsoft’s offerings, and allows us to bridge any gaps for customers when those products are released.
Q: What other positive effects can a partner have on a business?
A: The biggest thing that a lot of people don’t take into consideration is time. The amount of time you spend worrying about your IT needs when you’re not an IT company means resources and opportunity lost.
It really comes down to what the cost is at the end of the day. You don’t need to call an electrician to change a light bulb. But if you want to add a new outlet in your house, if you do it yourself and you’re not an electrician, you risk doing it incorrectly and possibly burning down your house.
Not only is there money lost, but there’s the time lost from doing it incorrectly. And when you’re running a business, that time is opportunity lost because now you may have spent twice as much time doing something that is not your business’s core competency. And you may have lost a sale because of it instead of increasing revenue during that time.
A partner also will help you see the holistic picture and give you an inside look at what the future holds. It’s not just, What is email today? It’s, Let’s look at how email integrates with all the moving pieces of your business and how your business will need to use it in the future. When you need guidance today, a partner can make sure that your system is also designed with the future in mind.