Be careful what you ask for – Part One:

On February 27, 2006, in Rants, by

The other day in my SBS Partner group this topic came up…. Do we now have what we asked for …. And is it too much?



It was about how before in SBSland there was a veritable waste land of information.  We shared because we found that when we relied on each other we learned more, we shared the “been there and done that” information.  Even the Microsoft partner site was geared toward certified and bigger partners.  The comments I heard from folks that while it looked nice, it was hard to navigate around.



So here we are… about a year… year and half later and the comment was made that now, instead of the wasteland, we’re tripping over Small Business information all over the place.  To the point that we’re getting overloaded with stuff. 



I mean I was telling someone the other day about the resources and it was kinda silly… Podcasts over there….. webcasts here….. listserves… and web sites….. and are we getting too much information?  And are we getting the right kind of information that we need?  But at the same time are we not ensuring that once people have met a certain milestone that they have access to the right kind of information and someone or something is filtering out the noise so they can do a better job and they are rewarded for stepping up to the plate and being serious about Small Business.



Every now and then I like to do what I call “what if you were in charge of the Universe….what would you do?” and think about how we can do things better in SBSland.  It’s something that Jeff Middleton of SBSMigration.com once asked in the newsgroup.  I’m going to do a series of two posts… in this one I’m going to put you guys on the spot and ask how you think Microsoft could do a better job, and in the follow up one, I’ll ask you how you think the Community of SBS could do a better job (including me). 



Now I’m not promising that anything will happen because of these questions… but sometimes…just bringing stuff out in the open and hearing different ideas give us things to think about long term (and okay so I’m hoping folks in Redmond may just get an idea or two from the feedback posted, so it will be a fun experiment nonetheless).



So now I’ll turn it around to ask about the various community and partner sites in SBSland:



Right now there are three major landing places for SBSers and web site that are official from Microsoft…… the www.mssmallbiz.com site, the Microsoft.com/partners site and the new landing place inside of that that is unique for SBSCers.


If you were in charge of the perfect site(s) for SBS partners….both registered AND Small Business Specialist Certified…. what would you do to make it better?  Would you leave the www.mssmallbiz.com site just the way it is? Use it for a launching point to the Partner site?  Have all Microsoft information regarding SBS behind the Microsoft partner portal?



Here’s my two cents of why I like the www.mssmallbiz.com site just the way it is.  And this is just my opinion so I want you to think about your thoughts on these sites and post in the comments about what you think. It’s a little bit rough.  Unpolished.  Got some frayed edges on it.  It’s a Sharepoint site.  But it looks like something that a busy Small Business owner would put together.  It showcases the very technology that SBS has in it.  Sharepoint.  It sends me Alerts when there are new things.  It helps people join in the small business marketplace by putting out the welcome mat and letting people come in without having to register for anything right at first.  They can look around a bit before walking in the door.  A lot of stuff is in the window where you can take a look at it.  There are notifications and alerts. 



Now let’s look at the Small Business partner site behind the Microsoft portal and the SBSC partner portal.  You can only get there once you register.  It was funny but on a SBSC listserve someone asked if having that designation would “put your clients off” because they would perceive that you were not independent.  Let’s be honest with ourselves…..there is a definite lack of trust by both clients and Vars and Vaps of Microsoft.  But at the same time, for those folks that have stepped up to the plate and taken the certification and “paid the dues” you need to ensure that they have something special and unique that they get out of the certification.  But are there enough “push” technology from these sites?  RSS feeds?  What about the newsgroups?  One of the advantages of the Partner site is access to the managed newsgroups because you are guaranteed one on one Microsoft engineers.  But because I can’t search them as well as I can the public newsgroups via Google Groups, I’ll be honest and say that I tend to use the Public newsgroups as a resource, where as the Partner newsgroups are more for a one on one issue resolution venue.



Then there’s the issue of getting folks to sign up for the Partner site.  There’s many a time I have to urge a person installing SBS networks to sign up for the Microsoft partner site.  And then there’s the issue of “so can’t I look at what I get before I sign up for it?”



I’ve been involved in other organizations where a credential process has been underway and it seems like everyone struggles with this.  You have to have the bar for entry such that a ‘critical mass’ gets the credential.  But once this critical mass has been reached, you need to raise the bar so that the credential means something.  Then you need to ensure that there is information and value unique to that credential so that others will want to be part of the membership as well.



Coming from where we have been in SBSland, the historical place where we share everything to anyone…. to now where we honestly have to step back and say… you know …maybe we need to organize ourselves a bit more and start asking for things changed and let those who have ‘paid their dues’ have a little bit better space over there…but still keep a space over here as the Welcoming committee place.



So what do you think?  



If you were in charge of the Universe and could do anything you wanted to the Partner and SBSC sites, what would you do?  Do you use the www.mssmallbiz.com site?  What do you like?  What don’t you like?   How would you make the Microsoft Partner site for registered partners and SBSC ones better than it is now?



I think there should be more RSS feeds and push technology.  I know that I visit www.mssmallbiz.com a lot more than the SBSC site because stuff gets pushed to me.


So come on… let’s brainstorm!  See what things we can come up with as ideas….and then we’ll ask.  Hey, they can always say no, but you have to at least try to ask in the first place.

 

2 Responses to Be careful what you ask for – Part One:

  1. John says:

    You’re right, far too much repitition and contradiction exist. Its hard to tell where the publisher ends and the community begins. There should be a support site just for finding the support.

    I find it very frustrating to know where to ask questions or find information about products. Should I look in Technet? The Knowledge Base? Most problems I encounter involve two or more Microsoft products, and more than once I have gotten the old “you’re in the wrong news group” (never that kindly).

    Your blog is one of the places I like to start, because I know a search on your site will point me to relevant info on other sites.

    I know there’s a ton of info out there, if I could only get to it, it might be useful.

    Current frustration: Outlook, Terminal Server, SBS, or Exchange… take your pick; I am not sure which.

    -John

    PS Oh yeah, I got the notice of this Ebitz blog post via RSS.

  2. Bob says:

    Tag the SBS content in each of the major services and republish the username under which it was tagged. Then the SBS user community could follow feeds for the tags that interested them.