The PAL is dead…long live the PAL

Today, June 30, marks the official end of my tenure as the SBSC PAL for Australia, and it’s been quite a year.

I’m not going to go into huge detail because, well, quite frankly I’m sure you’ve got more important things to read but for those in the know this has been the first year the SBSC PAL position has existed. It’s been a bit like a very young child learning to walk – we’ve been a bit wobbly, there have been a few times we’ve fallen over (but no tears!) but we’ve certainly learned plenty and won’t be looking back & returning to crawling!

In a nutshell, the SBSC PAL is a community liaison position – it’s an opportunity for someone passionate about helping to grow the SBSC community to be the conduit between the SBSCs and Microsoft at both a regional and corporate level. I accepted the position last year not really knowing what was expected of me, nor what I could expect of Microsoft. I think most of the other PALs from around the world felt the same way too. For the record, it’s a non-paying position. We got a ticket to the MS Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver last year but that’s really it.

We have invested our own time, time away from our busy businesses and lives, to get together on conference calls with Microsoft to not only get information from them on what the SBSC program is doing moving forward but also to give them feedback – what can Microsoft do better for the SBSCs, what are the SBSCs looking for, how can we work better together etc etc. My last call was from the very noisy Qantas Club at Sydney airport where I must have looked quite odd with my hands covering my ears so I could hear the call and occasionally unmuting my mobile phone to nearly yell my comments into the phone!

Microsoft Australia has seen a few different bodies in the local SBSC liaison position – Lorna Farrar (went to Seattle), Wendy Smith (maternity leave) and now Robbie Upcroft – who realises he’s entered “Hotel California” as far as the community goes. He might try to check out every once in a while (actually he doesn’t really try) but he can never really leave. Robbie has returned to Australia following a 2 year stint in the UK working with Microsoft and has certainly hit the road running as far as SBS and the SBSC program goes. He is a tremendous champion of the SME reseller community and welcomes honest, no bull feedback and gives us honest, no bull answers to our questions. Great to have you back Robbie.

And so it is now that I hand the SBSC PAL reigns over to our new PAL – Hilton Travis. Hilton is just as passionate about the community as Robbie or I (perhaps more?) but has his own unique delivery style – kind of like a Mack truck hitting a chicken 🙂 Hilton is going to be a great SBSC PAL and I wish him all the very best for the year ahead. I’m sure he’ll make many waves and will certainly get into Microsoft’s ear about what can be done to improve the SBSC program overall -he’ll also deliver back to the community, and I dare say much better than I can too.

With 2 “no bull” characters driving the pointy end of the SBSC program here in Australia, we can all expect to see some amazing things moving forward, provided Microsoft Corp listen to what’s being said, pay attention and take action.

But it takes more than just me, or Robbie, or even Hilton to make things happen. As a community we need to raise our collective voices so that we’ll be properly heard. Get in touch with Robbie or Hilton either directly or via your local SBS group to make sure you can get your message out. But don’t let this be a one way communication – listen to what Microsoft come back with, try to understand its position and appreciate the fact that it takes a lot to move such a large business. In my personal experience with many Microsofties, they do care, they do listen, they do deliver our feedback into the machine, it can just take a long time for things to come out and during this time it might look like nothing’s happening. Don’t give up on them though. (BTW I do NOT own Microsoft shares!!).

So all the best Hilton – I’ll see you in a few days at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston and I’m sure you’ll make a very memorable contribution to the SBSC program.

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