Getting by with a little help from friends

As the economy gets squeezed tighter and tighter, some vendors are digging a bit deeper to help their reseller partners weather the storm.

In a struggling economy, some vendors are assisting partners with business advice.

As the economy gets squeezed tighter and tighter, some vendors are digging a bit deeper to help their reseller partners weather the storm.

This means offering partners vital information, ranging from getting tips on learning new processes to finding new niche markets.


"We need to recognize the economy is in a crisis. You can do nothing and let the crisis run over you, or you can apply your intelligence and find the niches where you can still make money," says Rosa Garcia, general manager of the Partner Programs Group at Microsoft.

At its upcoming Fusion partner conference (July 13-16 in Anaheim, Calif.), Microsoft's efforts will be focused on giving its expected attendance of 4,000 Microsoft Certified Partner members enough ammunition through information-filled workshops to dodge economic bullets.

"If a partner is going to come to this event, we want to make sure they have so many great ideas on how to make money," says Garcia. Guest speakers and consultants will share advice, and Microsoft research will show partners how they can mine certain niche markets that are not currently being tapped. Meanwhile, Sun Microsystems will not hold its iForce partner conference in May as planned, but instead has been bringing together the various iForce partners on separate occasions, says Joe Womack, VP of Americas Partner Sales at Sun.

Sun will soon roll out to its partners specific information to help them improve the way they do business based on Six Sigma techniques, says Womack. Last year, Sun undertook the Six Sigma's process-based methodologies to transform its business operations.

Also, Sun is planning to create incentives for certain Sun solutions providers to share their success formulas, Womack says.

For Microsoft, its executives are touting this year's Fusion conference as a big opportunity. "It's going to be very focused and very complete in how to make money today, and how to make sure the company is very successful in the long term," says Garcia. "There will be a lot of vision for tomorrow."

Garcia expects new enhancements to be unveiled for its Microsoft Certified Partner Program, formerly called the Microsoft Certified Solution Provider program.

Just recently, Microsoft named 141 new members to its Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, the highest partner level in its partner program.

At Fusion, partners also will be encouraged to actively seek out and create new partnerships between themselves, to balance skill sets they may not have in tackling new opportunities. To that end, Microsoft has won accolades from partners for its "structured networking" events that team up partners.