Monday, October 6, 2008

Worrying about the Windows way

Microsoft VP Cindy Bates with Erig Ligman, SMB Nation CEO Harry Brelsford and Arnie Mondloch

The question that many in the field of computing and small business support have to consider today is whether to hitch their stars to the Microsoft Windows wagon blindly and hold on with all their might or keep their eyes open and do much the same. Windows Small Business Server 2008 has so much potential for providers and for end users that to find another business solution with as much potential and promise as what it will offer businesses would be impractical. But change is always forthcoming and dealing with it is always stressful. The last day of the SMB Nation conference started with several Microsoft executives who presented opportunities for computer consultants and small and medium businesses alike. Frankly, the auditorium was full of very dedicated consultants and professionals who have more than a glimmer of worry about what these changes will portend for themselves and their business clients. Microsoft is cutting much of the financial incentives they have offered to their partners in the past, while now attempting to encourage end users to work directly with Microsoft "in the cloud." This is definitely making many IT professionals upset with the way Microsoft is attempting to skim off clients and business. At the same time many IT professionals and managed services providers are anxious to implement upgrades and work closely with their partners in providing cutting edge opportunities to their customers. In a very real sense it is becoming less necessary for computer consultants to know the needs of their clients' computers and more for them to become a trusted advisor to the business. Dealing with security, data backup and making businesses more productive is the great aim that everyone at SMB Nation has in view. But the bigger question is how to make their own businesses more profitable too without losing clients to Microsoft. Microsoft U.S. Partners Strategy, Marketing and Programs vice-president Cindy Bates and two members of her team, Eric Ligman and Arnie Mondloch, unveiled programs that will enrich many of the members in the audience and make many happy clients too. Partnering with Microsoft has great potential and the returns in investment can be incredible, we all learned today. But if Microsoft really values the IT professionals who have grown their clients into profitable end users, they might want to consider that we are a big reason for that. How we implement Microsoft's business solutions and how quickly they go out into the marketplace will determine whether it is advisable to worry about the future or to roll forward with it with a smile on our faces and profits on our books.

Meeting Clay Eals at SMB Nation event
Clay Eals, the author of Steve Goodman: Facing the Music is a longtime resident of Seattle and he was kind enough to show up this morning and meet with me to chat about his favorite musician. Goodman, the talented performer and composer who died in September of 1984, was the well-researched subject of Eals' 778 page volume published by ECW Press. He was kind enough to sign my book and talk about Goodman and what he has meant to him. He even wore his City of New Orleans Amtrak jacket in my honor.

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