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From organiser to finalist: Brent Colbert on Microsoft awards

This week’s announcement of the finalists for Microsoft’s New Zealand Partner Awards saw UCFX among the contenders for the communications award.

It is something of an ironic twist, afterall it wasn’t so long ago that UCFX marketing and channel director, Brent Colbert, was himself working at Microsoft – and running the awards.

We sat down with Colbert for a chat about what it’s like to be on the other side, as a first time finalist in this year’s awards.

How does it feel to be a finalist?

It actually feels really great. The team were rapt when they found out as I hadn't told them about the submission so it was bit of a surprise. That and the fact that UCFX has been recognised so early on really validates our positioning and value proposition in market.

You're a finalist at an awards show  you used to run, how does that feel?

Actually really, really good.

I know the work that goes on behind the scenes to run the event and it's a lot of work so I'm pleased this year I'll be sitting back with the team enjoying what will be a great night. Jared [Pedersen, Microsoft New Zealand partner strategy and programs manager] and the team did a great job last year so I'm sure it will be a great night reconnecting with a lot of friends and former colleague's from across the channel.

When I was at Microsoft I was always a fan of drawing out the great stories that the many Microsoft Partners were delivering, and the awards evening is a great way to showcase these stories.

To see UCFX contributing to those stories is actually quite humbling, but also absolutely fantastic. 

How do you rate your chances of winning?

I have to firstly say congratulations to all the finalists. There are lots of new names this year which is really great.

Being a finalist in our first year is pretty special and a great boost for the team and the respective teams who support the guys in the field, especially our finance team who keeps things ticking over.

Let's say the team have got their fingers crossed, and I'm sure will enjoy some healthy banter with the lads at Dimension Data and Lexel on the night. Regardless of who wins, Lync will be the winner on the day!

Why do you think you're a finalist this year, especially after only been in business one year?

I think being a specialist practice which focuses only on Lync helps.

I also think our approach to partnering has really helped. Not only across the Lync ecosystem partners like Polycom, Jabra, Plantronics, Audiocodes and Sonus, but also into the traditional Microsoft partner channel where we take on numerous roles, from doing their internal Lync deployments, assisting with Lync projects as a sub-contractor through to backing up their internal support teams with Level two and three support.

We largely don't compete at all with the Microsoft channel, so are seen as complementary and our partner models around margin support that approach.

What's next for UCFX?

We're actually right now looking at our next phase of growth and how we build out on the success we've had over the last year.

Outside of pure Lync projects I'm really excited about the product innovation we're bringing to market around Contact Centre for Lync and Lync Room System for Video Conferencing, as well as the Find Me application to support activity based workstyles which support our whole 'Lync + 1' vision.