The Microsoft Partner Awards have been a major event on the channel partner calendar for the last three years. Last month partner achievements and successes were celebrated at a formal cocktail evening, hosted at Auckland’s The Westin Hotel, where the winners of theses prestigious Partner Award accolades were revealed.
The awards have developed over the last three years to include ever more categories and encourage more partners to enter. The increase in categories is designed, according to Microsoft, to place more emphasis on technologies that it believes are critical in helping customers be successful.
This year the awards attracted a record number of hopefuls (approximately 100 entries from 30 organisations) offering winners the opportunity to showcase their excellence and innovation in a way that is recognised by both their peers and their customers. One such award winner who will benefi t in this way is IGAsystems. The company was presented with the ‘Business Productivity Portals & Collaboration Solution of the Year’ partner award and, although Microsoft decided not to have a ‘Partner of the Year’ award this time, they felt that IGAsystems’ SharePoint solution for St John was a sufficient standout to be featured in our pages.
The Microsoft Partner Award judges said: “The solution deployed by IGAsystems created a breakthrough solution for the customer by providing innovation, leverage, leadership and knowledge and transformation, and fulfilled the criteria of this category by using innovative thinking and a clear strategy to solve both technical and business challenges with proven customer results. The solution has had a positive impact for St John and is helping them provide an even better service to the communities across New Zealand.”
Ignacio Montenegro, Managing Director of IGAsystems, tells The Channel more about his business, his vision and the solution that won the day.
How did your business start and what changes has it encountered over the years?
IGAsystems is a Microsoft Certified Partner that I founded in early 2006 immediately after my role with Microsoft. It started with the vision of becoming a leading provider of innovative solutions and consulting services around the Microsoft SharePoint and Dynamics CRM platforms. Our initial approach focused on medium consulting engagements. However, over the past two years we have evolved and now offer comprehensive SharePoint and CRM services to medium and large New Zealand organisations whilst maintaining our unique dynamic and personalised approach. We are a member of the Microsoft SharePoint Deployment Planning Services, Microsoft Business Solutions (CRM) and Information Worker (SharePoint) certifi cation programs.
Who are your main clients?
Primarily New Zealand-based medium and large organisations across different industries ranging from banking to retail, construction, health, and government organisations.
What are their major requirements?
In the first instance our clients are looking for a technology partner to help them maximise the business value of their SharePoint and/or CRM implementations. The first engagement usually involves the setup and implementation of the core functionalities of these technologies. In the case of SharePoint, the requirements for the initial phase usually include the setup of the infrastructure together with the analysis, customisation and deployment of the collaboration, communication and search functionalities of SharePoint. This phase is usually followed by tailored solutions that address a client’s specific business needs, leveraging some of the other components of SharePoint such as process automation using InfoPath Forms, business reporting using the SQL Reporting Services, integration with other systems, or tailored solutions built on the SharePoint platform.
What is the most memorable event in your business so far and why?
Winning the 2007 ‘Microsoft Technology Advocates Partner of the Year Excellence’ award. This award has made a signifi cant impact on our business over the last two years. The win came just a few weeks before submitting the RFP response for a SharePoint project with St John (the solution we were nominated for this year) and we believe that winning this award in 2007 gave us the edge to win the St John RFP and the necessary recognition to work with other important (and large) New Zealand organisations over the intervening years.
Apart from the internet, what is the most exciting technology to be invented in the last 100 years and why?
I think that would be transistors, as they transformed the world of electronics and changed the course of history in a big way for computers and all electronics.
You mentioned that you once worked at Microsoft. Tell us a little more about your time there and how it has helped your current business.
I originally joined Microsoft Venezuela back in 2001 as the Technology Solutions Manager; I then moved to New Zealand, primarily as a lifestyle change, and with the help of Microsoft New Zealand took a Microsoft pre-sales role with Computerland that gave me the opportunity to travel all over the country doing business and technology presentations. After that, I moved back as a full-time employee of Microsoft here as the Business Productivity Centre (BPC) Manager. The objective of the BPC was to demonstrate Microsoft products and solutions to business and technology audiences. Consequently, these roles gave me incredible exposure, not only to the latest technologies, but also almost daily interaction with customers, their requirements and challenges, which was and is the foundation of IGAsystems’ business today.
Turning to the Microsoft Partner Awards, tell us more about the specific solution you were nominated for.
The project nominated for ‘Business Productivity Portals & Collaboration Solution of the Year’ was the implementation of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS) as the collaboration and communication platform for St John, which serves communities throughout New Zealand and delivers an extensive range of services and products in the health sector and health-related fields.
Who worked on it and what was it that made it stand out to the judges?
The project was a collaborative effort between IGAsystems and our client St John. We believe three key factors made this solution unique:
1.The business value and importance of the solution to St John.
2.The extensive regional coverage of the solution. The intranet/extranet solution was designed to reach all St John employees and members totalling 10,000-plus users across New Zealand.
3.The use of SharePoint out-of-the-box capabilities to manage and address St John’s information, communication and collaboration needs.
What is your core business philosophy and what part did it play in leading to your selection by the Microsoft Partner Awards judges?
Our core business philosophy is based on a key entrepreneurial principle: “always look for ways to improve and ensure that every project is a successful project”. In comparison to other Microsoft New Zealand partners, IGAsystems is a relatively young organisation, therefore we need to think and behave differently in order to compete and stand out. We believe that these core values and the fact that we are now well consolidated into the New Zealand SharePoint market also played an important
part in this nomination.
What impact will recognition from Microsoft have on your business?
We are very thankful for this award, as it is an encouragement for everyone that was involved in this project. Winning an award like this for the second time is extremely important for us and it is an honour to be recognised among such an elite group of Microsoft Partners.
What do you think is the secret to your success?
We live and breathe SharePoint. Our consultants are really passionate about this technology. Focusing and concentrating solely on these two technologies (SharePoint and Dynamics CRM) has helped us design and implement practices and processes to help our clients maximise the business value of their SharePoint and CRM implementations. In addition, our committed IGA team, especially Senior Consultant David Peterson (who made an incredible contribution to the St John project) and partnerships with other New Zealand SharePoint experts, like Small Steps Computing, have enabled us to increase our coverage and services.
Where do you see your company being in five years’ time?
We see an incredible amount of potential in the next release of SharePoint. Our plan is to keep our core focus on this technology and continue providing a personalised, specialised and dynamic approach to our clients’ needs.
“To develop a world-class Microsoft Partner organisation to provide specialised Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics CRM consulting services.”
Unit 13, Zone 23, 23 Edwin Street
Mt. Eden, Auckland, New Zealand
Postal address: PO Box 125214
St. Heliers, Auckland, New Zealand
+64 0 800 662590