A key takeaway from SMB Forum 2012 was articulated well last month by Channel Pro-SMB's own Rich Freeman. In his event coverage, “SMB Forum 2012: Cloud Resellers Must Rethink Business Management,” Freeman explains that “IT providers entering the burgeoning market for cloud-based solutions must revamp not just their service offerings but the entire way they run their company.” That sentiment was echoed this week by Microsoft Partner Network general manager Julie Bennani.
Launching in June is Microsoft's Small Business Competency, a professional status designed to differentiate SMB-focused VARs from their enterprise-centric competitors.
As Bennani articulates in her blogpost, "How You Can Earn the MPN Small Business Competency," the Small Business Competency will lead with the cloud. "We [at Microsoft] believe this competency will be one of the biggest levers to accelerate cloud partner activation in the small business segment," she writes.
In acquiring the MPN Small Business competency, Bennani reports that Microsoft Partners will prove capabilities through technical exams, sales assessments, and customer/client references.
Partners will demonstrate a solid expertise of solutions based on Windows, Office 365, Windows server Small Business Server, and Windows Intune.
As Bennani is quick to point out in her blog, attaining a Gold-level Small Business Competency will yield the highest level of support from Microsoft.
Gold-level partners will, for example, enjoy:
- Use of the Gold competency logo.
- Eligibility for a named Microsoft contact for sales support.
- Internal use rights for up to 30 licenses of on-premises products.
- Additional cloud offering license rights for internal usage (IUR).
- Unlimited pre-sales advisory hours for deals under $3,000.
- "Bill-on-behalf" capabilities for Office 365.
- Exposure on the Microsoft PinPoint and Office 365 marketplaces.
In addition to the core competency requirements, Gold Small Business Competency partners must also execute customer satisfaction surveys and commit to a minimum revenue target.
Stay tuned to Channel Pro-SMB in the coming weeks and months as we chronicle the rollout of this competency credential and assess its validity in differentiating SMB IT solutions providers from competitors.