The Microsoft SMB Parallax
When you look at Microsoft dead on they look like the most successful technology company in the world across all regions and all consumer spectrums. Nearly everyone is touched by their solutions, software, entertainment, games and more. They are far from perfect and boy do they stumble – Vista, Windows ME, Windows Phone after 5.0. Ultimately, Microsoft has the best insight into the real business software needs of anyone out there and small business is a battleground that the partners are losing. Here is one such story that came across my Facebook feed this afternoon:
“It seems that MS heads are just in the Clouds. Feels (and sounds) like they are only listening to a small subset of partners and are not listening to any other feedback, especially from clients (end users), through their partners. Very sad. Feels like they have their eyes and ears covered.”
This is not an infrequent or edge comment out there, it is something I hear every day. It starts to sting even more when partners are invited to what is a seemingly Small Business Competency for Microsoft Partners event and are pounded to the cloud, cloud, cloud. Microsoft did just that today.
So is this a matter of Microsoft just being clueless (fair argument given the missteps in their track record) or is the reality that the Microsoft’s small business partners have better understanding of the business (which in rural areas doesn’t have bandwidth hence no chance for the cloud) or is the reality that Microsoft has better insight into where their software and solutions sell?
The reality is that all of the above are valid and correct.
I have been following Microsoft partner frustrations on Facebook and even asked point blank “If Microsoft is obviously going in a different direction, what do you do?” – and I never got the answer.
The muted, grumbled and begrudged answer is that Microsoft is still the dominant player in what they do and that small business consultants will still have to sell their solutions. What’s the alternative, completely retrain yourself and your staff on a different platform with a much smaller client base?
There you have the answer to Microsoft’s cloud strategy and insistence on it no matter how little sense it may make: It doesn’t matter if our partners aren’t on board with our direction because they have no other alternatives.
You can argue with it all you want and question it every step of the way, in the end it really doesn’t matter because Microsoft is the biggest, most recognizable most successful option you have. The question is what is the better use for your time once you realize you’re wasting time complaining about stuff your former partner doesn’t care to hear anymore.