Q&A: IAMCP Wants You!

Unified voice gets Microsoft's attention.

The International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners is spreading the word that an independent but united group of partners has the best shot of getting Microsoft's attention. It seems to be working: With membership on the rise, albeit still short of its goal of 10 percent of all partners, IAMCP's U.S. and international boards now meet with Microsoft's partner executives regularly.

Bill Breslin, president of the U.S. chapter's board, devotes a lot of time to IAMCP but hasn't given up his day job as director with Insource Technology Corp. in Houston. Breslin discussed IAMCP's vision and role with Redmond Channel Partner .

Why should a partner join IAMCP?

We’ll help grow your business in two ways. First, we’ll hook you up with partners that are close by but whom you probably don’t know. Second, we’ll increase your visibility with Microsoft. It is thirsting for SMS&P (Small and Mid-market Solutions & Partners) partners to market ideas to.

Let’s explore those two points. Microsoft is already helping partners to partner with other partners. What is IAMCP’s value add?

Microsoft has vast geographic areas to cover, so your observation is more true in some territories than others. In our 27 U.S. chapters, you can discover that your competitor is not always your competition. We help break down these barriers. Other partners can help your business, but you’ll discover this only by getting to know them on a personal level.

What about the increased visibility?

Microsoft responds best to ‘engaged’ partners. They’ll put ‘tick marks’ on you. If you’re active with IAMCP, maybe even serving on a committee or your chapter’s board, you’ll get more ticks. You get ticks for being engaged in the community or with customers or other partners. The more ticks you have, the more valuable you become to Microsoft. And the more valuable you are to Microsoft, the better your chances of getting business or being recommended.

Does Microsoft also listen to the IAMCP membership at large?

Sure. We provide a strong voice locally, nationally and internationally to influence Microsoft partner and marketing programs. For example, at the Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans two years ago, we met with Microsoft to discuss the Next Generation Partner Program it was working on. We nailed things we thought were major gaffes. One was that there was no competency for application developers. IAMCP’s international board was quite vocal about this. Well, this past May, when we were in Redmond for two days of talks with Allison [Watson, vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group], we learned that this will finally change this year. It’s a big step and it took two years, but we gave them a round of applause.

It’s the old strength in numbers argument.

An independent organization that represents thousands of partners worldwide can make this kind of a difference. When we do our annual spring sessions, Microsoft is already telling us what’s in the works for the following year. We provide feedback from SMS&P partners, and more than once, programs have been redrafted based on that feedback.

Does IAMCP see itself as playing an adversarial role?

That approach doesn’t cut it with Microsoft. If you want to be heard, you have to have a solid organization that’s not about confrontation. You’ve got to provide positive and negative, but honest, feedback. It’s a two-way conversation.

What kind of partner is a good candidate for IAMCP membership?

Partners that get the least ‘touch’ from Microsoft can band together and be heard and noticed. That’s partners with five to about 100 employees in the SMS&P space.

What lies ahead?

Our vision is growth. We want chapter growth and, in turn, member growth. Member growth makes our voice stronger and that puts us in a better position to be heard.

About the Author

Paul Desmond, the founding editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine, is president of the IT publishing firm PDEdit in Southborough, Mass. Reach him at [email protected].


comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe on YouTube