Despite positive support for Microsoft’s inaugural NZ partner conference, Connectionz, last year, the vendor has opted not to hold the event again in 2008, and will instead focus on the Microsoft Partner Awards as an event unto itself. This year’s awards will again be held at the Auckland Museum on Thursday, 14 August.
“We’ve seen that partner preference is for us to come to them with more targeted events,” said Nick Fletcher, Partner Group Manager for Microsoft NZ. “Given the time and investment, it became one or the other.”
While attendance was “good” at last year’s partner conference, Fletcher told The Channel that it by no means covered all Gold Certified and Certified partners.
Reactions to the announcement have been mixed. Andrew Hunt, Managing Director of Kinetics Group, a Microsoft Gold Certified partner, told The Channel, “Last year, by running the NZ conference, Microsoft tried to get more involvement from local partners. You can’t fault that. If local partners don’t support these opportunities, it is their loss.”
Hunt expressed some disappointment that no effort had been made to incorporate NZ partners back in to the Australian partner conference, but stated that he would still attend the worldwide partner conference in Texas in July, despite Microsoft pulling funds. “I’m going to go anyway,” he said, “I got a lot out of it last year and plan to get a lot again this year.”
Kinetics won the award for “Infrastructure Solution of the Year – Small Business” in 2007, and the integrator has already put forward two entries to the worldwide partner awards, and plans to enter the New Zealand competition yet again.
One partner, who would only agree to speak to The Channel on the condition of anonymity, stated that the decision to not hold a NZ conference this year is “rubbish – absolute nonsense”. “It’s pretty bad, and we’re pretty upset about it,” he stated.
Tony Skelton, Managing Director of Ace Training, another Microsoft Gold Certified partner, had yet a different perspective. Ace did not submit an entry for last year’s awards, and the “Education Solution” award was given to competitor Auldhouse, after their entry was evaluated against the calibre of entries to the Australian and worldwide awards. This year, Skelton is giving “serious consideration to submitting an award application”.
The award category list was made available to partners in May, and three new categories have been added to last year’s list, including a “Rising Star” category. Entries can be submitted online at www.microsoft.co.nz/partnerawards until 5:00pm, 27 June, with finalists to be announced by 21 July.