Office365: Good for SMB, Bad for Partners

Seems like Microsoft still isn’t listening to its partners.  Just like the old BPOS, MS still wants to own the customer and bill them directly (possibly eliminating the partner) for Office365.

Microsoft is selling the “direct billing” issue as it takes the hassle out of billing for the Partner.  But most partners are more concerned that it may take the customer out of the partner.  Perhaps not likely, but certainly possible.  And considering that the partner has invested significant time and energy in the customer relationship, most are adamantly protective of their fiefdom, and rightly so.

There is a small group of 20 Office365 Syndication partners who do own the customer and bill them directly.  They are: AppRiver, Atea, Bell Canada, Central Europe On-Demand, InterCall, Intuit, Jack Henry & Assoc, KPN, Mamut, Orange, Premiere Global, SKB Kontur, TDC, Telefonica, TeleiSonera, Telmex, Telstra, UPC, Vodafone and Starhub.

The other 15,980 Office365 partners are trusting Microsoft to take good care of their customers and not abuse their trust by marketing to them directly without their consent.  Hmmm. Figure that one out for yourself.  Oversight?  I’m sure MS will open their books for your audit purposes.  Just check your Office365 partner agreement for your audit rights or lack thereof.

How big of a deal is this?  Well, there are 640,000 Microsoft partners worldwide. 2% have signed up to sell Office 365 – Microsoft’s “all in” cloud play.  Don’t get me wrong.  I believe in Office 365, but I also know what built Microsoft. The partners account for about 95% of their revenue and the vast majority are frustrated that Redmond isn’t working with them on this important issue.

Our SharePoint customers have the same concerns with Fpweb.net and we have built a simple SharePoint Reseller Partner program around them so we can grow our businesses together. The partner chooses to bill the customer or we can handle it for them. It’s about choice and trust.  I think Microsoft could and should do something similar.

Dear Mr. Ballmer,

We like Microsoft. We like the cloud. But we love our customers.

Business is all about relationships and no sound businessman should ever trust another to manage that relationship. Stewardship can easily result in disaster by way of malice, neglect or ignorance.  And no one knows my customers better than I do.  Want to beat Google?  All you need to do is work WITH me.

Sincerely,
624,00 Microsoft Partners Worldwide

2011-08-30T07:00:41+00:00 August 30th, 2011|

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