Eric Ligman – Follow me on TWITTER and RSS Global Partner Experience Lead Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights
Since the very inception of the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community many years ago and for every year since then, it has been my absolute pleasure to work with all of the Partners dedicated to serving the needs of the SMB segment and help communicate the efforts Microsoft is making around the SMB market. During this time, there have been people that, with each passing year, will ask or make statements along the lines of, “Microsoft is moving away from the SMB market,” or “Microsoft is killing off the Microsoft Small Business Specialist Community.”
For those of you that have followed me for awhile, you know that one of the commitments I have made to you is that I will always strive to bring you the RIGHT answers to the questions you have. With this commitment comes the understanding that if I am going to bring you the RIGHT answers, that almost guarantees that at some point, I am going to bring you an answer that you do not like; however, it will be the right answer. For some of you, today is that day.
The fate of SBSC has been signed, sealed, and is now being delivered. The answer to, “Can you believe it? The end of SBSC and a shift away from the SMB market,” is: “No, don’t believe anyone that tells you that!” The Microsoft SBSC designation is absolutely living on and Microsoft’s commitment to the SMB Market, and the Partners around the world that serve this market, is as strong as ever, if not stronger!
We’ve worked diligently to ensure that we have solid opportunities for our SMB focused Partners to partner with Microsoft, no matter their size. (Sorry competitors, this is the RIGHT answer to the question, even though you may not like it) I wanted to be sure to bring the RIGHT answer to these questions to you, to ensure you had them and there is no misunderstanding or thoughts that we hid it in a footnote somewhere.
With the announcement of the new Microsoft Partner Network (MPN), we explained how some things would be changing as we move into the new program and recently, we launched several MPN webcasts to describe more about the Microsoft Partner network as well as conducting a live Q&A session online. One of the items you may have heard in there is an expansion in focus on the SMB market for our Partners through the introduction of two new Competencies and two new Advanced Competencies for Partners focusing on the SMB market. Now, Partners focusing on serving the SMB market around the world can partner with Microsoft in even more ways and at more levels, for those that choose to:
Speaking of SBSC, have you joined the SBSC Facebook site yet? Also, keep an eye out because soon we will be posting the registration information for an upcoming webcast we will be conducting with even more news on MPN for SMB Partners
Here are the answers to some questions we have been seeing/hearing, as well as others we thought you might have:
1. Since the Small Business Specialist Community is continuing, does that mean that the Small Business Specialist logo is staying too?
2. To obtain the Microsoft Small Business Specialist designation, the requirements remain the same:
3. To obtain either the Small Business Solution Provider Competency or the Midmarket Solution Provider Competency:
4. To obtain either the Small Business Solution Provider Advanced Competency or the Midmarket Solution Provider Advanced Competency:
5. Customer References have not been a requirement for me in the past. What resources are available to help me do/prepare for this requirement if I want to try to attain either competency?
6. Will the Small Business Specialist designation change, as a result of the introduction of the Small Business Solution Provider Competency and Midmarket Solution Provider Competency?
7. Can I use more than one logo?
8. If I’m an active member in the Small Business Specialist Community today, do I automatically qualify for the Small Business Solution Provider Competency when it’s launched?
9. I have already taken a Sales & Marketing Assessment to become Small Business Specialist. Does that suffice to gain the competency as well?
10. Can I be an active member in the Small Business Specialist Community and also hold a Small Business (or another) competency at the same time?
11. When will these competencies be available for me to join?
12. Do I need to update my skills to remain in the Small Business Specialist Community? For example, I have completed the MPC requirement by passing the Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 (SBS) exam. Do I need to pass to SBS 2008 exam to meet the criteria for the community?
13. If the Small Business Specialist Community remains, why would I want to attain a Small Business or Midmarket Solution Provider competency?
14. What are the fees for the Small Business and Midmarket Solution Provider Competencies and Advanced Competencies?
I hope this puts to rest any of the speculation out there that you may encounter around, “What’s happening to SBSC in the new MPN?” and if Microsoft is committed to the SMB market. Let me assure you we are and that SBSC continues to be a key component of our efforts together. I look forward to seeing all of the Microsoft SBSC Partners at WPC this year!