When AssetPoint lost a bid to a Microsoft partner, it decided to become a Microsoft partner itself. Now a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, the maintenance software provider has seen lead-generation climb 10 to 15 percent, Web traffic climb 7 to 10 percent, and months shaved off development time—all as a result of the Microsoft partner programs in which it participates.
For most of its 30 years, AssetPoint offered its maintenance management software on IBM and UNIX platforms and Oracle database software. And the company prospered, becoming a leader in its field for delivering integrated maintenance software and program improvement services that reduced costs and improved profitability. It was named one of the 25 fastest-growing companies in South Carolina in 2009 by the state Chamber of Commerce.
But the market changed, with more of its customers moving to adopt the Microsoft application platform. One day, AssetPoint lost a large piece of business to a company that it didn’t even consider a major competitor. That company offered its solution on Microsoft software. And it had something more going for it: it was a Microsoft-certified partner.
“That got us to thinking,” recalls Mike Stone, Vice President of Global Marketing at AssetPoint.
AssetPoint executives looked into the possibility of joining the Microsoft Partner Program themselves and, Stone says, “The more we looked at it, the more we liked what we saw.”
||Being a Microsoft partner has definitely contributed to our growth. There’s no doubt about that.
Vice President of Global Marketing, AssetPoint
The company joined the Microsoft Partner Network, becoming a Registered Partner immediately, a Certified Partner six months later, and a Gold Certified Partner a year after that. AssetPoint has maintained its Gold Certified Partner status ever since, earning five certified competency credentials. The competency credentials provide a competitive advantage by demonstrating to the company’s customers that it is especially qualified in areas including service oriented architecture and business process, mobility solutions, and data management solutions.
As a Microsoft partner, AssetPoint has participated in a variety of activities. For example, the company has used several Microsoft Ready-to-Go campaigns, which are easy-to-use, professional, premade materials and sales tools designed to help partners to identify opportunities, generate demand, and grow their customer base.
Among other Microsoft marketing activities, AssetPoint has taken advantage of business-to-business e-mail lead generation, search engine optimization, and participation in Microsoft Front Runner programs, which are designed to give companies access to software, support, and a rich, vibrant ecosystem of peers, partners, and support resources around the globe.
AssetPoint used Front Runner, for example, when it migrated its products from the Windows Vista operating system to Windows 7. With technical information provided through Front Runner, the company was able to complete its migration in 80 hours and earn certification on the new operating system.
Windows 7 is far from the only Microsoft technology for which AssetPoint has gotten a boost from Microsoft. As a Microsoft partner, the company is entitled to licenses to a broad range of Microsoft products for development use. It is also entitled to an array of Microsoft online resources for knowledge transfer, including Webinars on the latest Microsoft technologies. It has participated in such Webinars, for example, on developing for the Microsoft .NET Framework and on Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software.
The range of benefits that AssetPoint has gained is as broad as the number of partner programs in which it has participated.
Achieves Major Savings in Software Licenses
The technology aspects of the partner programs have been highly beneficial, according to Kay Jenkins, Executive Vice President—Products and Services, AssetPoint. Perhaps the biggest benefit, she says, has been the development licenses for Microsoft technologies including the Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 development system, Windows Server 2008, Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Microsoft Office 2007, and more.
“Beyond the cost savings, gaining licenses to the latest Microsoft software makes it easier to become familiar with that software,” says Jenkins. “It helps us to stay on top of what Microsoft is doing. It helped speed our migration to .NET.”
So has the access to online training and Webinars. “Microsoft’s online resources are awesome,” says Jenkins. “You can find 80 to 90 percent of what you need online.”
“Microsoft pushes Webinar information out to us as a Microsoft partner, so we don’t have to search it out,” continues Jenkins. “It saves us the time and cost of sending someone to training. When we first moved to .NET, a six-month project, Microsoft’s online resources probably saved us two months of training.”
Speeds the Marketing and Sales Cycle
One of the biggest benefits AssetPoint has seen as a Microsoft partner comes from the certification of its products. “Certification has helped us improve our marketing and sales cycles,” says Stone. “That’s because product certifications have given us credibility in the marketplace. Prospects are put at ease to know that our products are certified by Microsoft. And because our competitor’s products aren’t certified, it gives us a competitive advantage as well.”
AssetPoint has also sharpened its marketing programs as a result of participation in Microsoft Ready-to-Go Marketing Services. The search engine optimization program helped to improve the company’s Web page ratings and boosted traffic by an estimated 7 to 10 percent. The business-to-business lead generation program improved the results of the company’s e-mail lead generation campaigns by an estimated 10 to 15 percent.
Participation in the Ready-to-Go campaigns has been especially helpful. The company recently participated in the Microsoft information worker campaign. It gained 65 leads from that effort.
“The Microsoft Ready-to-Go campaign we launched really resonated with our community of maintenance engineers,” says Stone. “One of the biggest issues in the field today is the aging of the workforce and the thinning of the ranks of young maintenance personnel. The campaign spoke exactly to that issue, which is what made it so successful.”
“Being a Microsoft partner has definitely contributed to our growth,” says Stone. “There’s no doubt about that.”