Only a month ago after spending a few weeks drinking the Kool-Aid at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Houston I wrote a blog piece about the stark contrast of devices seen at the conference versus those in the rest of the world.
Last week I attended the much smaller and localised Microsoft Australia Partner Conference (APC). Interestingly I found the usage of iOS devices to be remarkably high based purely on my own observations (I would have loved to do a scan of the local mobile tower to monitor the devices connecting).
The opening keynote by the Managing Director of Microsoft Australia Pip Marlow called for partners to be showcasing Microsoft devices when in front of customers, a statement that to me simply made sense.
What kind of a message do we as Microsoft partners send to our customers when we come out to demonstrate Office 365 or other solutions and use an iPad or Android phone? What is shows is that “hey Mr Customer this solution I’m here to talk to you about is great and works best with other Microsoft technologies, but I personally don’t want to do that”.
The least partners can do is have interchangeable hardware that they take onsite to meetings to at least give the premise of using Microsoft solutions that are “better together”.
I don’t however believe that the onus relies squarely on the Microsoft partner – as purchasing Microsoft-based devices for staff can be costly if their existing equipment works fine, not to mention the challenges if you adopt a BYOD approach.
At Paradyne half our team use a Surface Pro as their primary machine as well as a Windows Phone 8 handset (Nokia being the most popular). The other half of the devices are older form factor notebooks/PCs, with only a few iOS or Android powered personal devices. As we are a relatively small business this is somewhat manageable, especially when several of us went to WPC and were able to pick up Surface Pro units for $399.
Where I think this plea to partners to use Microsoft devices falls short is that the company does not do enough to get them into the hands of partners. While the discounted Surface hardware at TechEd and WPC in the US were great – these offers need to be extended globally. It would be great to see Nokia come to the party and offer something similar in terms of discount price for partners.
Unfortunately Microsoft’s battleground are entrenched devices on an individual basis. Partners have no specific incentive to replace their fleets of notebooks/tablets or smartphones with Microsoft-powered devices.
If the price were lowered to a point such as recent US conferences where you’d be foolish not to buy them we would see a lot more Microsoft-powered devices in partners hands. The flow-on effect would be that when we’re out in front of customers we can be busy amazing them with what Windows 8, Surface, and Windows Phone 8 have to offer – with price being a distant second consideration.
That would ultimately lead to more market awareness of devices that do more than just click, and build a strong purchasing case for the end customer who knows what it is in the first place, thanks to the partner.