On New Year’s Day at 8 AM Pacific time, Eric Ligman (Microsoft US Senior Manager Small Business Community Engagement) announced on his blog that Microsoft will be launching the Microsoft Open Licensing Subscription Program across Canada and the United States.
I asked Stuart Crawford from IT Matters, a Calgary based small business consulting firm (and small business owner) to explain what this means to small businesses and those who serve them.
What does this mean to small business? According to Eric’s blog posting this new offering is based on feedback from partners and clients across the SMB segment. This new licensing solution will ensure clients and partners receive the maximum value from their investment in Microsoft solutions. Small Business clients can now leverage spread payments as part of the subscription program or utilize the benefits in Microsoft Financing to assist in keeping their cash flow healthy. Maintaining a positive cash flow is a challenge for many small businesses across Canada and the United States. Cash Flow is king for many small businesses.
It is important to understand that this solution is another option that small business partners can use to ensure their clients get the most from Microsoft technologies. It is another solution available for you to leverage and provide a competitive advantage in your local marketplace. Small Business Specialist must have this licensing offering along side with traditional licensing options or leasing options that you may offer with a leasing partner. Look at it this subscription offering as another club in your business golf bag.
Subscription based services is nothing new in the small business market. Antivirus companies and security firms have been using this model for a while now. In this industry, small businesses have been required to invest in an annual subscription to ensure that their security software and firewall devices are kept up to date.
With the Microsoft model, clients can subscribe to Microsoft software in a lease like fashion similar to any lease that you may have on their business equipment today. Small Businesses have the option to increase or decrease the number of licenses they require, buy out the subscription and own the license or simply end the contract. In addition, if your small business client already has existing Microsoft licenses, they may be eligible for savings or benefits when they enter into the subscription agreement with Microsoft.
It is important for Microsoft Small Business Specialists and Partners to understand that this solution is not a “Microsoft direct to the client” campaign. The partner will still be very much involved in the process and these new subscription offers will be available through all distribution partners. Just like with Open Business or Open Value sales today, the partner is very much involved in the entire process. So from a sales perspective, you resell the subscription to your client and pay your distributor, just like in Open Business and Open Value.
The Microsoft Open Value Subscription will also include the benefits included with Software Assurance, such as network use rights, home use rights, training and support options.
Successful partners need to invest the time to understand how this program will benefit their business, not pick it apart or see it as a threat to their business. This solution may not be a fit for every small business and that is OK, there are other programs in place that may provide your small business client with the solution they require.
Microsoft is hosting a number of webinars on the Open Value Subscription program; visit Eric Ligman’s blog for additional information at http://blogs.msdn.com/mssmallbiz/default.aspx.
Stuart Crawford is the Director of Business Development for IT Matters Inc., Calgary, Alberta’s award winning Microsoft Small Business Specialist. His second book has enriched the small business community empowering many small business specialists to reach goals that they never thought possible. It is available online today at http://www.doyouhaveitbook.com. Stuart is also an avid blogger on Small Business visit his blog at http://www.itsuccessmentor.com. He also believes in giving back to the community; join him monthly for a free conference call on marketing and sales at http://www.freeitmarketingseminar.com.