Over the past few years, ‘the cloud' has started to become mainstream and it's no longer a platform for a few bold customers and partners, it's the obvious choice for any customer or partner. For customers, this has meant small organisations can now afford the same solutions and their much bigger competitors, allowing them to compete on a level playing field. I also see the same with partners where the smaller partners can now offer the same levels of services and infrastructure as the larger partners. So how does a partner stand out from the crowd when they all have access to the same technology? Developing IP, their own intellectual property, is the way forward!
Microsoft Partners can differentiate based on their service offerings. Some do this via 24x7 support, some do this by offering a higher level SLA. Others will decide to package several products together, delivering a packaged solution where the vendors don’t already bundle products together. All of this results in making it very hard to unravel the separate costs of the products, however in the end if this information is posted on a website or included in brochure, it can be replicated and eventually more and more partners will offer the same service. A new direction is required to solve this.
Recently, I have spoken with a number of partners that have developed a whole new side to their business. One in particular referred to it as the 'Red and Blue' sides of their business. While the Red side of the business continues to provide traditional installation and support services, the type that can be replicated, the Blue side is working on intellectual property that it can offer to the Red side as well as other partners. Although this partner took the time to hire new people with the right skills to build the Blue side, others are choosing to build relationships with complimentary partners, creating a new virtual organisation with a Red and a Blue side. Should you partner or build in-house skills?
If you are a traditional infrastructure partner (Red) then you need to focus on the industry area or technology you feel most at home with. If you also find yourself deploying web services infrastructure then there are some great options to get you started building your own IP including Office Integration and Windows Apps, I will talk about these later in the series. Alternatively, you can partner with an ISV that supports the direction and platforms you have settled on.
If you are an Independent Software Vendor (Blue) then you need to start working with the 'Red' partners. Help them understand how you can help drive consumption/usage of the solution they have deployed for their customers. Make sure your IP integrates into the platforms that partners are selling otherwise you may find yourself with an application that Red partners will ignore as it's not helping them.
Throughout the series, whether you are an infrastructure partner (Red) or an Independent Software Vendor (Blue), it's my intention to suggest ways in which you might be able to 'stand out from the crowd' by delivering IP that can be easily replicated.
Will you embrace the opportunity?