Category Archives: 6257

SBSC’s listen up…

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Keira McIntosh

July 1st marks the end of one age and the start of a new era in the SBSC space in Australia. Hilton Travis has ended his term as SBSC Pal for Australia and passed the baton to Keira McIntosh for the coming 12 months. The SBSC PALs role is to act as a channel to communicate to Microsoft on issues affecting the SBSC community.

Keira started a blog a few months back and you can get to it here http://smbmanifesto.blogspot.com/

Congrats Keira, you’ve bitten of more than you can chew, but I’m sure you can handle it 🙂

Category: Business Focus
Published: 9/07/2009 12:05 AM

Microsoft Australia focusing on the SMB space in Australia

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Many in Australia are concerned that Microsoft are not understanding the needs of resellers in the SMB space. Some have made brash claims that MS simply don’t care. I can tell you from the meetings I’ve had inside Microsoft that those comments are extremely misguided. Most of the work I do inside Microsoft is covered under NDA and I can’t talk too much about it, however this is one thing that I specifically wanted to get out to the community so I sought permission to report it here.

On June 26th when most business were busy focusing on closing out sales, Microsoft Australia took over 30 people out of the office and invited key distributors to spend the day meeting with 6 partners in the smaller end of the SMB space. The aim was to get a better understanding of what the registered partners needed from Microsoft and how Microsoft could help better in the future.  Holding an event like this is not a minor undertaking either in terms of cost or organisation. I applaud Microsoft for taking the bull by the horns and seeking to address the concerns that the community has expressed.

If you think that Microsoft don’t get us and our needs, then I’d like to say that you will be proven wrong over the coming 12 months.  Sure they can’t change the world overnight, but the commitment from the team and the way they hope to make life better for the smaller SMB resellers is key.

The photo below gives you an idea of how the partners (sitting in the front row) were outnumbered by the Microsoft team 🙂 You might recognise a few familiar faces and some not so familiar, which is one of the key things that Microsoft wanted from this – the desire to talk to resellers that they had not talked to before.

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If you have some specific point you want to raise with Microsoft Australia in the SMB space then feel free to email me and I’ll link you up with the relevant contacts inside.

Category: Business Focus
Published: 8/07/2009 11:56 PM

What will you do different today?

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Today marks the start of the new Financial year here in Australia. As part of the new financial I’ve been giving due consideration to business planning and in particular what I will do different this year vs last year.  The world economy by all accounts is at it’s lowest in many tens of years. Here in Australia, the impact does not seem to be as hard as elsewhere in the rest of the world. Will it last? Will we be hit harder? Will it take a totally different tack?  All in all I think that no one can really tell.  The solution however is not in the future, but in the past.  Look at what you did last year and question- how can you do better? What will you change? What do your customers want and how will you service them in what looks to be an ever competitive marketplace. 

This is where a solid business plan comes in to help you establish your goals and focus on the path ahead. So the question to you all is how many HAVE a business plan?  How have you compared your performance this last year to that business plan?

I’ll bet money that fewer than 10% of SMB IT Professionals out there actually have a business plan. Of those 10% I’ll bet that a smaller number still have taken the time to review their performance and compare it to that plan.

I once worked for a lady called Susie Welch – she was my sales manager at AST Research back in the early 90’s.  She kept drumming into my head one thing… “If you fail to plan then you plan to fail”.  Those thoughts stick with me to this very day.

Category: Business Focus
Published: 1/07/2009 8:03 AM

SaaS / Cloud Computing – interesting concern

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Microsoft today announced they will block access to MSN Instant Messenger for 5 countries on a sanction list according to the US government.  CRN reported it here

Ok – so with all the hype about cloud computing, the users are not supposed to care where there data is as it’s “in the cloud”.  Here’s the catch – what if your data actually resides on servers on foreign soil and suddenly due to government action you no longer have access to that data? How will your business survive?

Now I admit that the risk to many of us here in Australia is pretty limited, however what if suddenly our data is located in say an Indian Data Centre and due to restrictions that the Indian government may decide to place, they prevent access to it from us here in Australia?  What then?

Seriously – have a good think about the pros AND cons of cloud computing before you dive in. Do your research, make sure you know EXACTLY where your information is as it may be subject to laws and regulations that you have absolutely no control over.

Category: Business Focus
Published: 26/05/2009 10:49 AM

Ingram Micro, Moneytech and Australian SMB Community

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I heard people today in the Australian SMB community talking about a letter they got from Ingram Micro.  The letter talked about their account with Ingram and it stating that “your Ingram account is being transferred to Moneytech in May….” . Knowing from past experience that Ingram have not always been the best at communicating, I sought to clarify the situation.

I just got off the phone with a senior executive at Ingram Micro and he filled me in on the story.  The long and the short of it is that Ingram were seeking a way to help the smaller resellers with credit accounts in the tough times that we have. As part of that they have been working on a deal with Moneytech to provide smaller resellers with additional options for credit.  Unfortunately as often happens the message that came out via the letter was not exactly what the intention was behind the scenes.  I’m told that further communication will be forthcoming that will help clarify the situation and that Ingram really want to help the SMB community survive this current financial mess we’re all in.

I’ve got to applaud Ingram for trying to help out the SMB resellers, and I know too well that it’s often easy to mess up communications.  Guys – give them a break. If you got such a letter, call them. Talk to the Ingram people or wait for a follow-up letter.

Category: Business Focus
Published: 20/05/2009 5:46 PM

Vote #1 – Keira McIntosh for SBSC PAL for Australia

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image In all my life I have never really been vocal about politics at all – but there is one thing that really hits my heart and that is the SMB community that I work in.  Therefore this blog post is 100% my personal view which you may well choose not to agree with.

Ok – so it’s now public that Microsoft have announced their intention to seek guidance from the community for the role of SBSC PAL for the next 12 months.  I think this is a great chance for us to let them know who we think would be ideal for the role.  Hilton Travis from Quark IT has filled the role for the last 12 months and made some progress on various issues – congrats to Hilton for that.

Robbie Upcroft in his last blog post on the SBSAustralia blog talked about Henry Ford and how often people do not really know what they want because they always think in the same linear direction as they have before.

"if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got."

Ok, so with that in mind, I want you to have a serious think about what WE in the SBSC community need. Over the coming 12-24 months we are facing some major changes in not only the economy but also the Microsoft partner program. Microsoft are still working on what the final program will look like. During this time it is imperative that the communities voice to Microsoft be one based on solid business foundations that the needs of the SBSC community be pushed forward to ensure that the smaller SBSC’s get what they need from Microsoft.

In my opinion I think we need to consider the following;

1. We need someone who is involved in the community with much more of a business/marketing focus. There are plenty of technical resources available, but I believe fewer solid business resources – that is what we need moving forwards.

2. The role should not be one of a current or past MVP as it’s my believe that MOST MVPs are technically focused.

3. We need someone who is not afraid to stand up for and to the community – in both directions. Sometimes the asks we have of Microsoft are unreasonable and we the community need to be told as much. This job is not just one of the community beating Microsoft up about what WE want, but also what WE can GIVE to Microsoft and our customers.

One thing is for certain – the next 12 months are going to have some massive changes in not only the economy, but I suspect also how MS works with it’s partners based on massively reduced budgets and the like.  The ideal candidate will certainly need to have a level head on their shoulders in order to ensure that the right messages are communicated BOTH ways and at the right levels.

Therefore based on my experience in the community and the people that I know I feel that the best person right now to nominate is Keira McIntosh from Directions Technology. I’ve known her for a few years now and have seen her in a number of different forums. I’ve had an admiration for the way that she respectfully asks for what she needs and at the same time tells the vendor what we need to succeed as well. She has the “balls” to likewise stand up for what she believes in (she probably won’t like me saying that).  I think that Keira could really help progress things well with Microsoft on behalf of the Australian SBSC community and I’d encourage you to vote for Keira McIntosh for the next Aussie SBSC PAL. 

Please make your nomination today by emailing Sarah Theiss and tell her who you want to nominate and why.  Would you please respond as soon as possible, by May 20, 2009

Category: Business Focus
Published: 18/05/2009 1:26 PM

CRN Australia – a new direction!

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image Today people started to receive the new and improved CRN Magazine in the mail, and then shortly after I started to get phone calls and emails from people as my photo is on the front cover.  No, it’s not for some embarrassing gaff I made in public but because I’ve agreed to be part of the CRN Editorial Panel for the next 12 months.  Sholto Macpherson invited me along with 9 others to form the CRN Editorial Panel. The panel is made up of 3 people from each segment of the market, vendors, distributors and resellers.  For my part, I was extremely honoured to represent the reseller channel and with my focus on SMB, you can bet that I’ll have a different opinion to others on the panel 🙂

Subscribe to the new magazine here – you can get it in either print form or in ebook form.

If you have anything you would like raised with CRN, please let me know – I can either pass it on to the team or introduce you to them via email so you can fill them in direct.

Oh – and thanks to the photographer from CRN – he got some nice shots of me in action which for a guy who is not too photogenic (in my mind) was nice to see 🙂

Category: Business Focus
Published: 5/05/2009 8:44 PM

You know you are an idiot when…

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You go against all the good advice that Microsoft offer when they design the product and you don’t even care enough for your clients well being to heed advice given by others.  Such is the case of some people who believe that they can put the Hyper-V role ONTO the main SBS 2008 server and still make it work.  Susan Bradley has a great blog post here on the issues that occur when you put the Hyper-V role on your SBS 2008 server.  She is doing this as a demonstration of just what NOT to do.  She is trying to document the brain dead things that people will try to do and fail in the hope that they might actually read. 

However, I can’t help but notice that one of the comments on her blog come from someone who seems hell bent on bending the SBS 2008 product beyond it’s design constraints.  Furthermore he not only wants to install Hyper-V ON the SBS 2008 server itself, but then wants to install ISA in one of the guest partitions. What kind of insanity is that?  How will he get support from Microsoft when things go wrong? I sure hope he is joking and not doing this for real.

Furthermore I am seeing and hearing of people deploying SBS 2008 in live customer environments without even having installed it in a virtual test environment themselves.  Stories of people doing LIVE migrations for the first time, also without doing any reading of the documentation before the start.  These people all then point the finger at Microsoft for not having given them all the answers.

Why the hell would you do this for a clients server? Why would you do this for ANYTHING production quality and expect it to work? Why did you not do your homework and test it out first so you have an idea on what would go wrong?

Answer – because you are an idiot.  You have no concern for the clients business at all. You are the scum that makes the true IT Professional look bad. You are the used car salesman of the IT industry.

I am looking forward to the current economic woes of the world, because this in itself should weed out these types of people, force them out of business hopefully for good. These words sound harsh, yes. I’m tired of hearing people blame the product, Microsoft and anything else that moves without taking responsibility for their own freaking actions.

Category: Business Focus
Published: 4/12/2008 7:55 AM

CRN Awards tonight!

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I’m excited to be attending the CRN Awards tonight here in Sydney. Last year I was invited to be there as a guest of Trend Micro not knowing that I had been awarded the first ever CRN Channel Champion of the Year award by CRN.  The award to me was a recognition of the efforts that I’ve put into the community over the years and I was deeply appreciative of the award.  Nothing more to say really other than I plan to have a good time and enjoy the night.

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Category: Business Focus
Published: 7/11/2008 9:27 AM

Follow Through Matters… particularly now

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I met Amber Naslund at the Small Business Marketing Unleashed event in Columbus, Ohio in September this year. We shared many a good chat about business and how social media impacts our ability to do things in a modern day world.  Today she has a post which I think matters a lot, particularly in today’s economic climate.  Her post talks about how we need to follow through with initial contact with people to allow that contact to develop into a relationship.  In both personal and business life, this is so true.  I’d encourage you to take a look at her post and then think about how you interact with others.  Is how you work with others really something of value for BOTH parties, or is it a one sided transaction?  In today’s tougher economic climate, people are going to do more and more business with “friends” because they have built up a trust relationship with them.  How are you treating your “friends” ?

Category: Business Focus
Published: 29/10/2008 6:28 AM