Microsoft New Zealand is inviting all partners that sell to SMB customers to put their pitch skills to the test in a Dragon’s Den style competition for the chance to win prizes and further accolades at the upcoming Partner Awards event. Following the announcement of the Awards finalists earlier this week, Microsoft says the competition will run as a bonus round to the main event on 19 March, with up to six finalists receiving a ticket to the gala dinner and the winning pitches taking home prizes of Surface Pro 3s, Xbox One devices or Lumia phones. While traditional Dragon’s Den competitions ask participants to pitch a new business idea for investment, Microsoft is instead seeking the best examples of partner pitches to customers in each of two areas: 1) Helping a customer shift their productivity services to the Cloud, and 2) Moving a customer from Windows Server 2003 to the Cloud. Entrants will have just seven minutes to present their sales pitch to the judging panel, with three minutes available for Q&A. The competition will take place at the Microsoft NZ offices in Auckland, on Thursday, 12th March, from 1.00pm – 4.00pm. The competition is limited to 12 entrants and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, so partners are encouraged to register here as soon as possible to avoid missing out. Judging criteria, terms and conditions and presentation timeslots will be provided after registrations are received. Winners will be announced at the 2015 Microsoft NZ Partner Awards event at the Pullman Hotel on Thursday 19 March. Shifting to the Cloud Brent Kendrick, Microsoft New Zealand’s SMB and Partner Lead, says that moving business to the cloud has been one of the most significant industry paradigm shifts of the past five years, so is keen to hear the Dragon’s Den pitches from partners that are successfully selling cloud migration to small and medium sized customers. He also says that with just four months to go until the end-of-service deadline for Windows Server 2003, it’s vital that Microsoft’s partners are clear on communicating to small business customers how they can move to more modern platforms. “In mid-2014, Microsoft announced that the 11-year old Windows Server 2003 operating system will no long receive updates or security patches after July 15, 2015.” He says.
“Many companies in New Zealand – of all sizes and from all industries – are yet to migrate from Windows Server 2003, but the transition is especially crucial for small businesses. “A recent Gartner report pointed out that business leaders may not be aware of the risks they would face if Windows Server 2003 systems are not migrated in time.
“It could leave IT leaders at fault for incomplete disclosure if problems later arise, which is why we are encouraging partners to help customers with their server migration as soon as possible.”