Microsoft encourages all of its partners to be on PinPoint, its global directory service. Partners can add their company information, encourage clients to review and rate them, and provide application and service information. Anyone can then go to the site and search for a partners to work with.
Interestingly PinPoint seems to have been changing direction in the last year or so. More and more you will see it referred to as a ‘marketplace’, and multiple instances of these marketplaces are cropping up all over the web. See the Office 365 marketplace for a good example.
What is most interesting for partners is the direction PinPoint is moving in, away from a straight directory service towards more of an online store. As the imminent releases of Office and SharePoint 2013 show, ‘apps’ are very important to the future of many of Microsoft biggest products. It would seem PinPoint is being positioned as the place to source these apps, a classic app store if you will.
If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Windows 8 makes excellent use of the app model, and has its own Windows app store to complement it. Apps in Office and SharePoint will no doubt prove very successful, but this success will in part depend on the process of downloading, installing, and maintaining them. PinPoint is almost a ready made solution to a lot of these problems, and most importantly of all already has a good level of buy in (and trust) from partners and clients alike.
This move to an ‘app store’ is certainly an interesting route for Microsoft, but it isn’t the only direction they could have taken. We don’t need to look long at the wider web to see the huge impact social networking and social media has had on the online world. Facebook, LinkedIn, and newer kids on the block like Klout, have shown the way in this brave new(ish) world. So what if PinPoint had gone down this path?
PartnerPulse is a new site that is exploring a more social alternative for Microsoft partners and their clients. It is a community of partners, where each has a slick social dynamic profile. Anyone visiting the site can post any type of comment or update to any profile page, including partners themselves. PartnerPulse is a work in progress, an experiment in giving people a new way to find and browse partners. The best bit? Sites like this can happily live side by side. Partners and clients are the ultimate winners, which is the most important thing.
Chris Wright is the founder of PartnerPulse, a new social community of Microsoft partners.