Small business IT and technology news for the SMB channel VAR, MSP, and IT professional.
By Harry Brelsford, Founder and Chairman of SMB Nation, Inc. and Regina Ciardiello, Editor of SMB Nation Magazine
Minutes ago we chatted with Thomas Hansen, VP SMB Worldwide, and he shared more details about the forthcoming Small Business competency inside the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN). Readers will recall that the “SB” competency was announced March 1st here, and Hansen said the full program will roll-out in early June 2012 before the main event of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in mid-July in Toronto.
The top takeaways from today’s wide ranging interview are these:
Over the next year plus, Microsoft will slow merge the SB competency with the long-standing Small Business Specialist Community (SBSC). Ultimately, the SB competency will prevail, and the beloved SBSC blue badge will go away. Think of it as how FedEx first merged and then ultimately eliminated the Kinko’s brand.
For many “small guys,” the SB competency will require elevating up to silver MPN status where there are real membership costs but also real membership benefits. To help with the transition, Microsoft will offer a lower Silver competency admission price between June and the end of 2012. Hansen declined to be more specific or name that price.
Something for Everyone
Hansen also noted during our conversation, that the SB Competency is not just for a specific group of Microsoft partners; It is open to everyone, no matter how large or small they are, or if they are located in a major U.S. city or small local overseas. “Because we are a multi-national company, this is multi-national offering,” Hansen said. “How people engage may vary, but this is available to all partners, and how they choose to apply it is up to them.”
Final thoughtsWhen we were involved “back in the day” with the creation of the SBSC program, it was often viewed as a partner-level inside the Microsoft Partner program. The SB competency essentially has a different paradigm with it truly being a competency (like Desktop, Hosting, Mobility). I would offer this in closing. Be careful what you asked for. To all those older tired community curmudgeons who complained about the SBSC title, you now have the SB competency. Are you happy yet?