Historical perspective on the SBSC program [Microsoft Small Business Specialist Primer book excerpt]

Hi everyone – I am the publisher of the above title and each day I like to hold a virtual book reading….today’s passage is a look at the Small Business Specialist program history!



Harry Brelsford, CEO at smb nation www.smbnation.com

Microsoft Small Business Specialist SBSC, MBA, MCSE, MCT, MCP, CNE, CLSE, CNP

PS – did u know I host a technology conference in the New York City area each spring? Save the date for March 6-8, 2009 and watch “voice meet data” in the SMB space!

PPS – my SBS 2008 book will be out in mid-November 2008!

PPPS – my Microsoft Response Point Primer book is here NOW!

Historical Context

The old adage that Microsoft gets it right on the third try is very true when it comes to how Microsoft has entered the small business space. Let’s face it—it wasn’t until SBS 2000, the third major release of this application, that Microsoft got it right! In this section, I’ll provide some historical context about how Microsoft has finally gotten it right with the introduction of the Small Business Specialist Community.

IMPORTANT: The good news is that Microsoft hangs in there until it gets it right! Heck, with over $53 billion in corporate treasury cash (Seattle PI, April 2005, http ://seattlepi . nwsou rce. com/business/1 69588_msftnotebook1 9.html), it’s got some deep pockets to develop and refine programs and products until traction is achieved. Seems like a compelling reason right there to partner with Microsoft— it’s in it for the long haul!

Attempt #1: Sweet Success

Upon the launch of SBS 2003 in October 2003, the Microsoft Partner Program launched a “Sweet Success” small business partner campaign where participants submitted SBS 2003 customer success essays in a context format. Monthly winners received a shopping spree at Best Buy (a retail store that later went on to buy the small business consulting firm Geek Squad), an Action Pack subscription, and cookie deliveries (the kind of cookies you eat, not those that infest your web browser!). The grand prize winners received cash, travel, and hardware. This was documented in my November 2003 SMB Technology Watch newsletter at http://www.smbnation.com/newsletter/Issue3-2.htm. This essay-writing campaign, where Microsoft gained heaps of valuable small business customer data, was the genesis for the inclusion of the three-customer essay submission requirement in the first draft of the Small Business Specialist Community (circa November 2004). As you read above, this essay-writing requirement was unfortunately dropped in later Small Business Specialist Community drafts.

Section I Small Business Specialist Community

Attempt #2: Small Business Partner Engagement Program

To pump up the small business technology community and refine its final versions of the Small Business Specialist program, Microsoft launched the Small Business Partner Engagement Program (PEP) in the USA for a sixth- month period starting January 2005 and terminating just before the launch of the Small Business Specialist Community in July 2005. In Figure 2-9, you can see the gives and gets of the channel-facing community-building outreach effort by Microsoft to boost the number of Registered Partners.

Figure 2-9

Small Business PEP Gives and Gets

Visit www.smbnation.com for additional SBS and SMB community resources!


Chapter 2Small Business Specialist Community

If you look closely at Figure 2-9, you can clearly see that Microsoft was testing the waters and softening the small business technology community defenses as it rolled out some gives and gets that are very similar to those incorporated into the Small Business Specialist Community. The Small Business PEP is discussed in detail in the January through April 2005 editions of the SMB Technology Watch newsletter at http://www.smbnation.com.

IMPORTANT: Time to share a mild partner program resentment. Microsoft has no provision to grandfather or “fast track” existing Small Business PEP participants into the Small Business Specialist Community program. That is unfortunate, because there is prec­edent in the technology industry for doing exactly that. How do I know? I was there! My Novell Certified NetWare Engineer (CNE) title (circa late 1980s/early 1990s) provided me an exemption into IBM’s Certified LanServer Engineer (CLSE) program. Instead of hav­ing to complete six IBM CLSE-related exams, I was only required to take one “step-up” exam that I easily passed. No such step-up or fast track exists for expedited entry into the Small Business Specialist Community. But I’d be delighted to take a wager on the following: If for some reason Microsoft misses its aggressive Small Business Specialist Community recruitment goals (trust me—it is a very large worldwide number that I won’t repeat here), you will probably see some grandfathering clauses introduced.

Attempt #3: Small Business Specialist Community

Believe it not, the Small Business Specialist Community has long been in the making. Microsoft conducted extensive research with its small business partners and found that small business partners:

·                       Want to provide more consultancy and business solutions.

·                       Want being a “partner” to differentiate them from non-partners.

·                       Want more from simply being a partner:

·                  Services,

·           Personal Contacts/Services.

·                                          Have issues with Microsoft:

·                                          It is impersonal,

·                                          It is a very big corporation, and

·                                          They feel they are too small to be noticed.

·                                          Want great dialogue with Microsoft

These findings, combined with other factors like the recent history outlined above, resulted in the first draft of the Small Business Specialist Community that was beta tested in the UK in the fall of 2004 and early 2005. Additional feedback from that beta period was used to refine the program you see in place today!


This chapter provided a deep dive into the Small Business Specialist Community program. You started with an insightful overview of the entire Microsoft Partner Program. We then dove right into the GOOD STUFF of gives and gets! That was followed by a historical view of how the Small Business Specialist Community came into existence. It was a lot of reading, and throughout this chapter heaps of context was woven in to provide maximum value. That’s what a good book should do best!

Hopefully you’re now super-psyched and jazzed about the Small Business Specialist Community. Remember that it all starts at http://www.smbizspecialist. com. Now, turn the page and start preparing for the 70-282 certification exam. See you there!


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