Archive for January, 2008

Second Quarterly SBSC PAL's Conference Call

It seems like an eternity since I last wrote a blog post and no one has tried to contact me to see if I was still alive! Damn, haven’t reached those heady heights of blogdom yet :-)

Last week was the second SBSC PALs conference call, where all the PALs across the world and the Microsoft Worldwide Small Business Programme Managers gather to discuss things SBSC.

There was a presentation from some of the Microsoft Windows Mobile Team as they want to know how they can help us to sell more. They are releasing some new online tools which look quite interesting but I still want to understand how Windows Mobile can be used for something more than just an Activesync client. It’s great at what it does i.e. synchronising with Exchange and push email. It’s an essential business tool for me and some of my clients. It’s not sexy, it’s not hip and crowds are not going to gather around you if you whip it out in the Pub! Microsoft are working with Mobile Operators in various countries such as the UK to develop joint offerings for Windows Mobile, so this should be interesting.

The main thing for me and I believe is a sort of STOP PRESS type of thing is the creeping admission by Microsoft that it’s maybe not just about quantity of Partners but Quality. As Deanna Trencher put it, we have to learn to work smarter and maybe be more sales focused i.e. work with those Partners who are the most proactive and get those good stories out to the Community at large. Hallelujah!

Some of the Vista team are visiting the UK and are looking to meet up with Gareth and myself but I’m trying to see if I can persuade them to visit a User Group or two, I’m sure they’d get some great feedback!

There is going to be a PAL of the month feature starting from February and I’ve been chosen as one of the first three to be highlighted. I’ve completed my blurb, so look out for it sometime in Feb.

There is some resource type stuff but I’ll put that in a separate post.

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West Alabama E-Cycling Event

If you’ve been reading Chris Rue’s blog, the Funcave, then you’ll know he’s chairing a group which will be holding a first of its kind E-Cycling event. Having read through some of his posts I saw that he’d quadrupled his business being involved in this initiative which rather intrigues me and I’d love to know more how that has come about.

This has also got me thinking about the WEEE Directive and my own responsibilities under it as one of my customers was asking about recycling some old equipment they had (not originally supplied by me). I have to say, I’m not really sure what I should be doing or what advice I should be giving but I think I’m going to have to find out.

Anyway, here is Chris’s event details in his own words and should be interesting to see how it goes :-

Most of you already know that I’m chairing the planning committee for the first electronics recycling event ever held here in my local area of West Alabama.

The public collection of E-Cycling Day isn’t due to happen until January 24.

As of yesterday, thanks to large equipment pledges from a couple of local businesses which have already been picked up…E-Cycling Day has already collected 27,000+ pounds of electronic equipment!

We’re estimating we will collect 200,000+ pounds of equipment by the end of this event.

E-Cycling Day has started to garner a TON of attention, but we (the planning committee) would like it to receive more attention even farther out than our state.

Specifically, we’d like E-Cycling Day to get some “airplay” hither and yon, as we would like to be able to share our model with folks or organizations interested in forming an e-cycling event in their area.

… link to the official event website at www.tuscaloosachamber.com/ecycle

… links to a couple of the Funcave write-ups about E-Cycling Day:

http://www.chrisrue.com/funcave/2007/12/where-have-i-been-and-what-have-i-been-doing.html

http://www.chrisrue.com/funcave/2007/12/mo-media.html

http://www.chrisrue.com/funcave/2008/01/27000-pounds-and-what-do-you-get.html

NLab Social Networks Conference

This is one to definitely put in your diary, it’s the NLab Social Networks Conference on 19-20 June 2008 at De Montfort University. We’ve got Steve Clayton of Microsoft presenting and a line up of International Speakers, including humble ‘ol me! It’s being supported by some of the key business organisations in the East Midlands Region. It’s firmly focused on the business side of Social Networking and exploring ideas. You don’t get these type of events everyday least of all in Leicester, but NLab at DMU is doing some leading edge stuff on Social Networking with local businesses. Below are some links to take note of :-

NLab Blog

Facebook Event

Twitter

This is a fantastic networking opportunity and to have some really stimulating conversations and spark some new ideas! Now, don’t say I don’t bring you good stuff :-)

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London Technology Acceleration Services

This is the result of some of the new stuff that I’ve been working on with my business colleague Ashish. The London Technology Acceleration Services is backed by Ardentisys (our software business) and Hubworking. Its aim is to provide support to start-up and early stage technology/software businesses with high growth potential. The deal is simple is that a business gets the physical infrastructure and subsidised development support for a period of time along with our support in areas such as technology roadmap, business support, etc. The office base is situated in Central London in a prime location. This is an exciting phase in my business life and we’re actively looking for partnerships which will be of mutual benefit. One of our customers is TV Genius, who develop online TV Guides for the likes of Sky and ITV. You’ll notice that on their website it says their development team is based in Mumbai – that’s us! There’s more to come, so stay tuned or get in touch if you want a chat.

SBSC Requalification

By now you’ve probably had the email telling you whether you’ve requalified as an SBSC for 2008. Having seen some of the mailing list responses, there are people wondering whether a requalification has actually taken place? The email from Jen says that Microsoft can now pick up whether a Partner has fulfilled the criteria. That seems fair enough to me as last time all I did was copy my references from my Partner Portal page into an email to be sent to Microsoft. I couldn’t understand why at the time? It might have been good to indicate this change was coming before it actually happened but to be honest I’m pretty nonplussed about it.

The issue I see is that too many partners see a SBSC Accreditation as an automatic ticket to deeper engagement with Microsoft and more customers. In reality the first is true because people in Microsoft are making it their business to engage with us but with the second, it’s not a free ticket to loads more business, it doesn’t negate you having a coherent business plan or doing those normal business related stuff you do to grow your business. Yes, SBSC is valuable but as the cliche goes, you get out what you put in. If you want deeper engagement with Microsoft, then start thinking about how you go from SBSC Partner to Certified Partner and then eventually to Gold Partner, work on getting those competencies and engaging on the programmes that Microsoft reserves for those Partners that have fulfilled these criteria.

How do you win new customers? By sheer bloody hard work, sometimes over many months and by establishing a relationship with the business owner and developing trust. We seem to think that if only Microsoft told end customers what SBSCs were, everything would be right with the world, that we could turn up to a customer, show them our blue badge and they’ll be slapping out a cheque before we’d left the building. Yes, I want Microsoft to do these things but I’m realistic about things as well. Unless we want to change ourselves and adopt new business models and adopt new technologies then SBSC or no SBSC we’re stuffed big time!!!

Free ISO Burning Util that works with Vista

This is a nice little util for writing ISOs to a CD/DVD and works a treat on Vista x64. No install needed, just unzip it into a folder and run the executable. It’s called BurnCDCC from TerabyteUnlimited and you can download it here.

Beware of the Monsters!!

So, what is it that keeps kids worrying at night? Well, this is an insight into the mind of my 8 year old son. I saw this hanging up in our living room recently and I had to share it :-)

DSCF0024 

Isn’t great to have a child’s imagination?!

Cameron: Let Google run the NHS IT

David Cameron has been laying into The Government for it’s naivety on IT Projects for the complete mess that is the NHS IT Project. He further lays into the highly paid Management/IT Consultants of the Big Consulting firms for selling a vision of Utopia that was never achievable.

Why not let Google run it? Well, he doesn’t actually say that but he seems to suggest a Google like approach might not be a bad idea! I bet you didn’t know that Cameron was a Software Architect, it’s a compulsory subject at Eton alongside Latin!

Joking aside, billions spent and what is there to show for it? One of the main companies involved iSoft was virtually out of business and the Government had to bail it out with a loan (public money to save a commercial organisation???). We’re often told how as small businesses where just no good, not professional enough, don’t make enough money, don’t know anything technically, etc, etc. But, we’ll give billions of pounds of tax payers money to the Big IT Consulting firms so they can completely f*!k things up and then get paid millions more for walking away from it. Rewarding failure? Hey, how does that work? However, the contracts are awarded to the same suspects time and time again. Every Government has done this and the irony is if the Conservatives where in power, they’d do exactly the same.

I have a friend and colleague working as a contractor on the NHS IT Project and from talking with him, things are bad. You’d think, Big Consulting Firms know what they’re doing, well not from an insider view!!!

Actually, Google is beginning to sound like an attractive proposition but it might stay in Beta for the lifetime of the Project! Oh well, at least the data will be safe :-)

JP Rangaswami on open source in the enterprise & the future of information

I’ve been following JP Rangaswami on Twitter and his blog ConfusedOfCalcutta and have realised very quickly what great insight he brings. He’s got an impressive background working with Corporates, is a former CIO of investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein and is now CIO of Global Services at BT.

This video of him talking about his Open Source experiences at DrKW is very interesting and shows where Open Source has really established itself i.e. The Enterprise. Interesting also because BT has been busy signing deals/agreements with Microsoft.

He is a very unique CIO in my view who is actually actively being innovative and open minded about new technologies. But new technologies for the sake of it are nothing, you have to know how to deliver business value using the technology, which he seems to have the knack of doing.

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Free Programming Resources from Microsoft

Here are some great FREE resources for software development from Microsoft

Event : Visual Studio 2008 and .NET Framework 3.x – 3 day instructor led course from 19-21 February. Check out the Partner Portal for more info. You’ll probably get waitlisted for it and you have to be a Certified Partner but worth a go anyway as it’s zero cost.

Free eBooks on LinQ, ASP.NET AJAX and Silverlight. Check out this blog post for the details.

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