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IAMCP Gains Traction with Microsoft in US

The IAMCP, which now stands for the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners, is coming off its first national meeting, held last month in regional offices and remotely throughout the country. The gathering featured a keynote from Cindy Bates, Microsoft vice president of U.S. Partner Strategy. As one of the top two Microsoft partner executives nationally, the Bates keynote was a good vote of confidence for the IAMCP's first national event where my colleague Jeff Schwartz attended the New York presentation (see his report).

Similarly, the New York IAMCP chapter landed a keynote from Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner last October. That's an impressive amount of love from one of  Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's direct reports.

Meanwhile, the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group has been heavily engaged with the Washington, D.C. chapter of the IAMCP in planning for the Worldwide Partner Conference there in July.

Now the IAMCP is announcing a new engagement model with Microsoft's U.S. Partner Group. In the U.S. IAMCP May newsletter that went out June 3, the organization announced, "The Microsoft U.S. Partner Team will be launching a new IAMCP engagement model framework outlining prescriptive guidance on how Microsoft will support IAMCP chapters across the US."

The engagement model will come in two tiers. Ten of the 35 chapters of the U.S. IAMCP will get what is called Core Coverage, under which they will be assigned a Microsoft Engagement Team. The team consists of an Area Partner Territory Manager, a Local Engagement Team Business Development Manager and one Field SMB Marketing Manager.

The other 25 U.S. chapters will get Extended Coverage, which will involve a smaller Microsoft Engagement Team – an Area Partner Territory Manager and an SMB Marketing Manager – working with the three IAMCP regional leads. The regional leads are Howard Cohen, Eastern Region; Richard Losciale, Central Region; and Marc Hoppers, Western Region. According to the IAMCP newsletter statement, the extended coverage will have "an emphasis on communications support over in-person meetings and presentations."

Cohen, who is also the Communications Chair for the U.S. IAMCP Board, said in an interview that IAMCP will choose which 10 chapters qualify for core coverage. "It's a combination of proximity to a Microsoft office and the size and resourcefulness of the chapters," Cohen said. Those decisions will be made sometime before the Microsoft-IAMCP engagement model launches next quarter.

The new model arose from a mutually recognized reduction in field engagement between IAMCP and Microsoft that started about 18 months ago, when the recession was at its worst.

"Up until about a year and a half ago, field engagement was terrific. In addition to the PAMs managing managed partners, there was a Partner Community Manager working with the IAMCP chapter, as well as Area Sales Managers," Cohen said.

"Over the last year and a half, all of those people who were partner-facing were really turned customer-facing," he added. "It became more and more difficult to do fundamental things, to work with Microsoft tactically to get things done. Even for the IAMCP chapter, which was usually the alternative that people would turn to when they couldn't get traction with Microsoft, it was even difficult for us to get traction.".

The problems weren't universal to all geographies, and the IAMCP began discussions with Microsoft several months ago in a project called Consistent Touch, Cohen said.

"We're very happy about this. This is a real recognition that the relationship that we worked for over the years has really worked and is really delivering results for our members," Cohen said.

There's been a lot of concern among partners that the new Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) favors large partners with dozens of engineers at the expense of the smaller shops that make up the bulk of Microsoft's massive channel. Of special concern is the MPN requirement effective in October that employees certified to qualify a company for an Advanced Competency can not be used to qualify the company for any other Advanced Competencies.

The increased engagement with IAMCP, and the attention to the partners of all sizes that the organization represents, is a solid step on Microsoft's part to do right by its partner community. It also means that if you're feeling frustrated by your interactions, or lack thereof, with Microsoft, it may be a good time to join the IAMCP.

As for the name, the IAMCP has long been known as the International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners. The word Certified is now officially outdated as the Certified and Gold Certified levels of the Microsoft Partner Program officially switch off when the MPN goes fully live in October. While the organization's legal name "IAMCP," is unaffected, the group has changed its logo and Website references from "Certified" to "Channel."

Posted by Scott Bekker on 06/03/2010 at 1:23 PM


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