Since moving back to Australia from the UK a little over 6 months ago, I've spent a fair chunk of time meeting with SBSC partners, presenting at SBS user groups & generally getting out & about as much as I can.
I firmly believe that for a company to be successful (any company, not just Microsoft), then its people need to actually get out on the road, meet with its partners & peers, chat with its customers & competitors - basically meet with actual people rather than just relying on research & reports.
So I was in Brisbane last night & am in Melbourne today, getting ready to present to the Melbourne SBS Users Group tonight & along with The Wayne, conduct SBS Partner training tomorrow morning. This is my fifth trip here in as many months. Since January I've also been to Brisbane four times, Adelaide three times, Perth twice & Canberra once (sorry David, will try to do better), along with a whole host of events in my hometown, Sydney. I've also now individually met with 51 different SBSC & OEM partners across the country & so hopefully I've received a good cross-section of partner feedback as a representative of the wider Microsoft SMB-focused team.
And what I've picked up is the following:
- There's a growing sense of a wider Australian SBS community that smaller partners should really tap into. Whether you're a one man band or a big Gold partner, the advice, support & even friendship you'll get from the Community can only help you succeed.
- The SBS user groups are morphing into more commercially focused associations, with an emphasis on both technology AND business
- It's getting harder for smaller VARs to be generalists & those that are succeeding are the ones with a specific focus. Be it vertical (ie, servicing estate agents), geographic, (only in Melbourne's south), product (with CRM solutions) or customer life-cycle (only established companies) - it makes sense for you to develop a speciality.
- It's getting harder to make a quid from just selling hardware & software. Unless you're moving lots of volume, the real money is being made in services - & so what services are you offering? See previous point.
- People are people are people. I spent nearly 2.5 years working with the SBS community in the UK & whilst there are some differences (like having to drink beers with names such as The Fursty Ferret), partners are basically the same the world over. The same challenges & opportunities, the same needs & the same desire to succeed. So how do we share more information across the globe?
- Lastly, Microsoft Australia can & must do more to support this growing community - not just with evolving programs like the SBSC, but with people, resources & focus. I'll certainly be taking this specific feedback internally & driving for change.
So in the spirit of support, I'm going to make sure that a fair chunk of our SBS & EBS launch activities are focused around the various groups. The training, priorities, collateral availability etc will be taken first out to the SBSC Partners & user group members, & then onto the wider Partner program.
So, sign-up for your local group today - see below. In a regional area? Then contact me & we can help you get a group started. The UK SBS community went from 1 to 16 regional groups in 18 months & so there's no reason why we can't have SBS or SMB IT Pro groups in Newcastle, Hobart, Townsville, Geelong, Geraldton, Dubbo, Mt Gambier, Darwin, Cairns & more.
Cheers & see you at an SBS group soon,
- Meets last Monday of every month
- Ingram Micro's offices - Level 2, 208 Greenhill Road, Eastwood
- Membership is free
- Meets last Tuesday of every month
- Microsoft's offices - Level 9, 1 Eagle Street, Brisbane
- Membership is $30 annually (though this may change)
- Meets last Wednesday of every month
- Australian Computer Society, Ground Floor, 28 Clarendon Street, Melbourne (diagonally opposite Crown)
- Membership is free
- First meeting held just last week
- Next meeting scheduled for Tuesday, 29th July
- Check http://blog.sbsfaq.com for updates
- Meets 2nd Tuesday of every month
- Microsoft's offices - 1 Epping Road, North Ryde
- Membership is $99 annually