What a difference a few months and an improving economy has made to the resellers offering products from Microsoft Business Solutions!
Broad-based complaints have given rise to what looks like widespread contentment, and if not yet an A for results, certainly an A for effort for Microsoft’s work to correct problems that had many talking about the MBS channel being in a shambles over the last year.
The critics are generally smiling. “I can’t believe that I’m saying this, but it has gotten easier to do business with Microsoft,” says one Inner Circle VAR. A top Great Plains reseller is oozing over how strong sales of Solomon have been—despite some fears about the decision to outsource Solomon development to Plumbline Solutions, whose owners are the Solomon founders.
MBS, the consensus is, is listening. It has junked a plan under which its classic resellers, which sell products other than accounting software, and the ERP resellers were served by the same sales force. That’s left accounting VARs dealing with reps that understand the products that the accounting channel sells, instead of just understanding SharePoint, Windows, and Office.
Most like Microsoft’s decision to slow development of Project Green, the seemingly interminable project aimed at unifying the four accounting products--Solomon, Great Plains, Axapta, and Navision-around a single code base. There’s even speculation Green will never see the light of day and nobody is complaining about that possibility.
The not-for-profit products recently acquired from Encore are being rolled out with a good reception. Indeed, MBS seems to have caught up to the market in emphasizing a vertical focus and VARs like that because a vertical focus helps keep them out of competing so much on price. Perhaps the most noticeable reaction is a sigh of relief from those who say that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has promised not to make the accounting products part of its volume-purchasing plan.
Of course, it remains to be seen how much of the contentment is from moves made by Microsoft and how much stems from the fact that a lot more resellers are making a lot more money this year than they had for two years. People with profits tend to complain less.
Things aren’t perfect, of course. Generally, resellers report that it’s impossible to predict sales as they once could, and no one is under the illusion that there’s much low-hanging fruit in the accounting market. People, who don’t market don’t do well, and larger organizations seem to be growing at the expense of smaller ones in a way that hasn’t happened before.
Surely, there will be things to complain about. But right now, a lot of people seem to be enjoying this business.
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