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It is a new era for politics in America, however everyone knows the hard work is still ahead to bring economic stability to world markets.  How is your company poised to face the coming financial challenges.  What are the current priorities?  Are you finding yourself in meeting after meeting looking at tighter budgets and asking, "Is this really critial to do right now?"

When budgets are cut, it helps reevaluate where it is important to spend time and money.  You will ask great questions like, "What else can and should we be doing now and in the future?" In light of the announcements at Microsoft's recent Professional Developers Conference and how Microsoft is empowering independent software companies, there are many opportunities ahead.  So, how will you position your company to succeed? 

There is good news amidst the challenges.

Historically, times of financial crisis have brought out the best of entrepreneurship and most importantly the opportunity to listen.  Remember just after the Internet bubble?  There was calamity, but there was also a resurgence of entrepreneurship. How can you get tough and take advantage of this moment to come out on top?  Here are three things to consider:

1. Now is the time to listen. Listening provides breakthrough opportunities. Get close to your customers and really listen to what they need from their partners, and what they may need from a partner with whom they do not currently have a relationship. ISVs are uniquely position to bring other partners and solutions to their customers' tables and to help their customers wildly succeed through other channel partners.

2. Now is the time to prioritize.  Don’t take the fine toothed comb to the business out of fear, think about where you are focused.  Consider whether you are being crystal clear with your vendors and partners, and also what you need from Microsoft and others.  This diligence is an opportunity to take a fresh look at what you are doing today and what you expect from your technology partners.

3. Now is the time to ask “What if?” For example, "What if we listen and loop our applications into the cloud?"  It may be a big R&D effort, or it may be easier than you think.  But you won't know unless you ask.  This is the time to ask the types of “What if” questions that change the landscape and open up new markets for your company.  Doesn't that sound better than hanging around fighting it out in the same markets for smaller and smaller margins?  Think of the new opportunity you can discover when you open up new markets.  You can only differentiate your company in a congested marketplace by being an excellent listener, asking yourself "what ifs," and seizing those new opportunities quickly. 

The second thing I wanted to discuss with this post is how Microsoft can help you grow during this time of uncertainty.

  • Do you know the top 10 benefits of being a Microsoft Certified of Gold Partner?  You should, and if you don't, here's where you can find out. Microsoft can help you if you are really taking advantage of everything you receive from being a partner.  For example, are you leveraging your 10 hours of Microsoft support as a Certified Gold Partner? Remember to ask "what if" because this resource doesn't have to be simply for solving a technology problem.  Why not use this support to vet something new? 
  • Do you stay current with the plethora of content from MSDN, Technet, and MS Technology Centers for briefings, testing, etc.  Are you making the best use of Microsoft technologies and resources?
  • Are you engaging proactively with US field sales staff? In the US alone, there are over 3,000 highly trained Microsoft sales people in the field.  When you are doing that great listening to your customer, does your company reach out to Microsoft when hear they are considering a competitor's platform?  There are resources around the country that can be helping you engage with your customers to close those deals.
  • As a Managed Partner, have you finalized your Partner Business Plan?  What are the joint conditions of satisfaction? What are you focusing on with your Partner Account Manager?  Make sure you prioritize.

Finally, I've talked a lot about managed partner opportunities in this post.  I also want to speak to those of you who are perhaps newer, smaller, and don't yet have a relationship with Microsoft, but are still equally eager to make your businesses succeed and doing a great job of staying current by reading posts like this.  There are approximately 70,000 additional independent software companies doing business within the US economy, and Microsoft wants to be serving you as well.  If you're not in a managed Microsoft partner program, there are still ways we can assist. Participating in the local Microsoft office briefings, leveraging the various partner resources on http://www.microsoft.com/partners, taking advantage of the resources and enablement programs via the ISV Competency are just a few areas that I would suggest. Clear focus on utilizing these programs will not only open new opportunities for you and your customers, but will also help become more efficient with our energy while opening new doors for continued growth.

Here’s to your continued success,

Jeffrey Kratz

Senior Director, ISV Business