The International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) has elected this year’s executive board. Jeffrey Goldstein takes over as president of the U.S. chapter. IAMCP, the largest independent group of Microsoft channel partners, with 700 U.S. members and 2,300 worldwide, is chartered with providing partner advocacy to Microsoft and providing resources to enable success among the various constituencies in the channel.
Goldstein, managing director and founder of New York-based Microsoft Gold Dynamics partner Queue Associates, is a well-known figure in the channel community, most recently president of the New Jersey chapter, where he resides and has offices. Joining Goldstein’s executive slate are VP Dave Gersten of Bond Consulting Services; treasurer Tom Major, CFO of ClearPoint; and secretary Debra Pfundstein, director of U.S. alliances at ConQuest.
In his first interview as IAMCP’s new president, Goldstein shared his key priorities with Channel Futures. Among them are the rollout of The Index, a new resource to facilitate partner-to-partner (P2P) relationships, and Voices for Innovation, an effort to educate lawmakers at the state and local levels, and officials in Washington, D.C., on technology issues and pending policy issues. At this week’s national meeting in the nation’s capital, IAMCP leaders plan to meet with key elected officials and their staffs.
Goldstein will also focus on the new IAMCP University, the new program described last week that’s designed to help partners navigate the new One Commercial program. Here’s an excerpt from his interview with Channel Futures, edited for clarity:
Channel Futures: As the new president of the U.S. chapter, what are your key priorities for moving IAMCP forward?
Jeffrey Goldstein: I’m very excited about this and working with Microsoft. One of the things we are going to be working on is turning the IAMCP into a consulting organization. We want to utilize and pool all of our resources together so that we can help Microsoft manage their extremely large opportunities. We had piloted it several years ago with a couple of our offices doing some work with Microsoft Consulting Services. We can potentially be the largest consulting organization in the world when you look at all of our companies and all of the resources for all of the companies that belong to the IAMCP.
CF: How can the IAMCP achieve that?
JG: We’re rolling out what we call The Index. It’s a directory for all of our partners listing all of their skill sets so we can easily find resources within our organization. I can’t tell you how many times people come to me and say, "Hey, Jeff, I need a NAV consulting resource in the Netherlands; who do you have?” I would send an email to my friend Klaus, who is in Germany, who manages the IAMCP Germany chapter, who would respond, "OK, this is your man; send it over to me.” I then send it over to a partner and – bam – they have a resource.
CF: How did this come about?
JG: A lot of this was done by word of mouth, it was also done by Howard Cohen [who formerly led the New York City and Northeast chapters]. He set the standard for this. When a resource was needed, he sent an email calling on members when certain skills were needed for a partner’s project. No matter how esoteric the skill set was, someone would always respond, and we would find a resource.
CF: What resources is the IACMP putting behind The Index?
JG: We have a team of people who are working on this. Erik Franzen is leading up the effort, along with John Rivers, and they are reaching out to all of our partners and members in making them aware of this tool. So automatically as a member you will be able to participate in this program free of charge. There will be different levels that will be available if people want to make their companies more visible.
CF: And those added capabilities will cost extra?
CF: What is the rollout plan for this?
JG: It’s in play right now. We already have our first few firms in there and registered, and being set up now.
CF: Does the IAMCP have the resources to manage and run this?
JG: Yes. We worked out a financial arrangement, so there is going to be a revenue share. Nurture Marketing is going to be managing this, and they’re the ones who are doing this. They are not getting paid, but there is a sharing of revenues. The IAMCP is composed of volunteers and doesn’t have the resources to do that, which is why Nurture Marketing is going to be doing that.
CF: Do you have any projections or goals in terms of how many partners will be enrolling in this?
JG: We are expecting several hundred to be enrolled in this by June, before Microsoft’s year-end. This is like an e-directory. We are calling it The Index; it basically is going to be a partner e-directory.
CF: Will lead generation also be added to this?
JG: Yes, that’s the whole idea, matching the partners together.
CF: Does Microsoft have any role in this?
JG: No, they do not. This is 100-percent managed by the IAMCP. Microsoft is supportive of it but they’re not sponsoring it.
CF: Can you offer your assessment of Microsoft’s new One Commercial Program since it started rolling out last year?
JG: One of the things we will be doing is communicating the One Commercial Partner message to our members. Most of our partners are not managed partners. Microsoft only manages a small percent of the partners; a majority are not. The IAMCP is helping Microsoft manage non-managed partners, and that is by delivering content and messaging specifically around One Commercial Partner and getting that out to our group of partners.
CF: While you’re a managed partner, to what extent do the bulk of the non-managed partners need to do to get up to speed on The Index and understand how it will impact their business?
JG: The whole thing about cloud profitability, how to sell the cloud, how to sell the profitability, how to make money on this — that is one thing Microsoft is promoting. That is some of the messaging we are getting across. As the article on the IAMCP University described, that’s what that essentially was about. So, we’re in the process of organizing that and putting that together.
CF: What is the level of understanding of One Commercial Partner among IAMCP members?
JG: They’re aware of it, but they don’t know how to navigate it, how to utilize it, how to take advantage of it — and what it really means for the partners. For example, they can go online and read about One Commercial Partner, and you can read what [then-Microsoft’s] Ron Huddleston came up with. But I think this best summarizes the program in my words: When my partner engagement manager came back from the Microsoft Ready conference [after Inspire] I got an email saying: "We’ve got to talk.” When they came back, the first thing they said: “I am managing you on everything from Azure to Zune.”
CF: Since the new program was rolled out, what rough spots have you seen?
JG: It’s a learning experience for both Microsoft and the partner because we are being asked to go outside of our normal areas of focus. For example, with an opportunity I had for an Office 365 migration, I didn’t even know the right questions to ask. I didn’t even know there was proof-of-concept funding available. I didn’t even know what the PIE program was, and I wasn’t even set up for it. My partner engagement manager set up the opportunity, but he didn’t know the pricing wasn’t in the opportunity. So, when he set up the opportunity to get the proof-of-concept funding, and we entered into PIE, and it got rejected because the amounts weren’t in there, he had to go back and update the opportunity to add the amounts because he’s a Dynamics guy, not an Office 365 person.
CF: Even though you’re a Dynamics partner, you somehow got involved in this Office 365 migration?
JG: It was the client that was actually pushing us because they had a quote from another vendor and they didn’t want to work with the other vendor. They wanted to work with us because we had a trusted relationship. We had been working with them for over five years and they wanted us to do this. They were the ones who said, “Please get the approval for the funding.” It took us awhile to do it because we weren’t set up. Now that we’re set up, the next time it will be easier, but it took us a long time to get through that process. Something that should have only taken a couple days the first time took several weeks, but that was because we’re ignorant; we didn’t know what information to supply [and] we weren’t set up with the programs, so it took awhile to get set up.
CF: Is it your sense that the broad partner community is happy with the direction Microsoft is going in, or are they still skeptical, or is the jury still out?
JG: I think everybody is very happy about it because in essence it means additional revenue to the Microsoft partners. They are providing money for proof of concept for Azure [and] they are providing additional money in incentives for us to sell these products, so any time they do that, I think the partners are going to be happy.
CF: What other goals do you have in terms of working with Microsoft or the IAMCP membership in general?
JG: One of the things is to grow our Women in Technology initiative. We also include STEM and diversity within that same category. Women in Technology — we’re going to place a huge emphasis on that. It’s a special interest group within the IAMCP. Right now, there are 60 chapters worldwide and our goal is to grow this to 100 chapters, which is extremely aggressive.
CF: In addition to growing the numbers of chapters, how do you see growing the Women in Technology special interest group?
JG: Every IAMCP chapter is going to be encouraged to have a member on their board of directors, and that person will be responsible for organizing separate meetings and separate events focused on women and diversity. One of the things will be bringing in speakers. The whole goal with women in technology is IT has always been a male-dominated industry, and women have never been encouraged to go into IT. The whole idea is to mentor young women, encourage them to go into IT, and introduce them to successful women in IT like Gavriella Schuster and Kati Quigley, who have been very successful in large organizations like Microsoft, and show them that they can be successful in an industry that has been dominated by men.
CF: What other initiatives do you plan to focus on?
JG: Another is advocacy. This is really focused on supporting Voices for Innovation. It’s an advocacy group that’s very heavily supported by the IAMCP. We’re helping to support laws that will help protect people in IT and the Microsoft partners, and make sure that laws that are there are updated so that they support the cloud and things that are happening in the industries. For example, we have our IAMCP board meeting in Washington, D.C. We are setting up meetings with our senators [and] congressmen. All of the people who are participating in this are really what we call ambassadors of the Voice for Innovation. We’re meeting with Chuck Schumer’s and Cory Booker’s teams.
CF: What issues will you bring up with them?
JG: We want to emphasize the importance of cloud and cloud privacy, and make sure the laws protect data that is stored in the cloud. We are encouraging them to vote on laws that protect data in the cloud and data privacy. The reason that is important to us is because if we’re Microsoft partners and we’re selling the cloud, and we’re selling Office 365 and we’re selling Azure, our clients want to know that their data that is stored in the cloud is going to be protected the same way as if it were stored on premises, and that Microsoft is not going to release this information to the authorities without proper warrants and documentation ... We want to make sure the same laws that would apply to data kept within your four walls or within your desk should apply to information in the cloud.
CF: As you know, Microsoft president Brad Smith has made some strong statements in regard to that. Do you plan to echo his stance on data privacy and other issues or do you have any different points of view?
JG: We’re 100 percent on board with Brad Smith and everything he has been promoting, including TV white space and all of those other things. When we go to Washington, and this happened to me last year, the people we’re meeting with, the Chuck Schumers and Cory Bookers, and those people, they don’t want hear from Microsoft; they want to hear from the partners, the businesspeople on the ground. When I was in Chuck Schumer’s office, there was a lobbyist from Microsoft and there was me; they didn’t even look at the lobbyist, they looked at me and wanted to hear what I had to say. They want to hear what the constituents have to say. It’s a very powerful message coming from the partners.
CF: Does IAMCP plan to continue its push with lawmakers?
JG: In the same way that Women in Technology is going to be an initiative, and on every U.S. board, we want someone representing them — it’s going to be the same for advocacy. We have approximately 30 U.S. chapters; our goal is to have an advocacy person on every single board. Those people will be called ambassadors. The difference between someone on the board and an ambassador is that they’re active and doing these fly-ins to Washington; they’re meeting with their local congressmen and women.
CF: Are there any other major priorities on your agenda?
JG: Our goal is to grow our membership by 30 percent and get more members involved with the IAMCP. We have success stories. There really is value to joining, there are opportunities to work with other partners, and there are revenue opportunities.
CF: What is the commitment partners must make to join the IAMCP?
JG: It’s $195 per year. It’s a minor investment. It’s like the lottery: You have to be in it to win it. If you show up at our meetings, you’ll do business.