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Microsoft MVP 2018-2019

I am proud to announce that I was awarded today by Microsoft, with the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award for 2018-2019 for Microsoft Azure. This is my 12th consecutive Microsoft MVP award since 2007, and I couldn’t be more excited about this one.

This shield stays on my desk, which I proudly stare every day,  waiting for the 2018-19 batch to arrive.

According to Microsoft: The Microsoft MVP Award is a unique opportunity to honor technology experts who have shown a deep commitment to innovation and have made outstanding contributions to their communities. This might be through speaking engagements, creating content, providing expert feedback or organizing events – but most importantly, the award is given to those who are passionate about technology, and have great community spirit!

There were some recent changes in the MVP program, in the past, there used by 4 renewal cycles in a year for every quarter, but from this year all the Microsoft MVP’s are announced on 1st of July. This kind of created a social media storm yesterday across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Based on the official Microsoft announcement, there are only 2600 awardees (and only 37 new) to cover the entire Microsoft platform, given the scale of the Microsoft ecosystem with millions of developers and technology enthusiast I feel it’s an outstanding credibility to have under your belt. I congratulate all the new and past MVP’s who obtained this milestone.

Year on Year the competition level is increasing, which is a good thing. The technology landscape is moving fast, it good to see the experienced people competing with the young millennials to sustain their position.

When your entire career is dedicated to working on Microsoft platforms (I never worked on anything else since 1997, i.e 20 years), there is no better feeling than being awarded as a Microsoft MVP.

Today as a CEO of a software product company (BizTalk360, Serverless360, Document360 & Atomic Scope), the majority of my day is more of people management, but I still find my way through opportunities to make my hand dirty and get on technical activities. Out of all my tasks and priorities, the one I love the most is the technical product owner responsibility, where I experience the product, give candid feedback to my team and architectural decisions we had to make to create better products. More or less I incline towards more technical work throughout the day.

Due to this personal characteristics, now as a company, we are more community focused. Recently we successfully executed the worlds largest Microsoft Integration focused event in London INTEGRATE 2018 (with 440 people), in addition to our regular weekly webcasts (Integration Monday, Middleware Friday) and Techmeet360.

Once again Congratulations to all Renewed and New MVP’s, looking forward to contributing and scale more this year.

Do you know, there is a middleman in Software business?

This is one more important lesson I’ve learned in the journey of BizTalk360. This is mainly applicable to start-up’s entering the enterprise world. Everything going online these days, where you pretty much buy right from your grocery to your expensive television online, eliminating the need for middleman.  But unfortunately things are bit old school even these days in enterprise software world.

For lot of enterprise customers, they do not procure the software directly from the vendor. One main reason is, they don’t want to maintain relationship with 100 different vendors, instead they prefer to deal with handful of software resellers. The role of the software reseller is purely to act like a middleman. The resellers probably won’t understand anything about the product. We have seen cases where a customer actually asked them to procure licenses for “Microsoft BizTalk Server”, but they came to us to get a quote for “BizTalk360”.

Customers typically pay a fee for the service they are getting from the resellers, but as any middleman business, reseller wants to maximize their profit and would love to take a cut from both sides. Ideally the vendor doesn’t need to pay anything for the resellers, but in order to keep things smooth (avoid any delays in sale) we offered them a small slice, typically 2%. Most of the time they won’t be happy and bargain for higher percentage. You actually don’t need to worry too much about the resellers, because by the time they come to you, the customer has already instructed them to procure the software. It’s not going to make any difference in sale closure, whether you are giving 2% or 5%, it’s all going to be pocketed by the reseller. 

I also learned they apply 2 techniques to maximize their profit

Client is on tight budget

This is one of the common statement we hear from the resellers.

The customer is on very tight project budget and they are looking for a discount to close this sale soon

This is an absolute lie, in fact we offered some ridiculous discounts like 10-15% in the beginning without knowing the trick. These guys pocket such a huge margin for doing absolutely nothing. We just learned this scam with one of our own experience. We were working with this customer for nearly 4 months doing some demos, POC’s, lot of email conversations and finally we even decided on a price by giving a discount on free training. The customer request came through a reseller and we heard this same statement. But this time we know that can’t be true. I told them clearly we cannot give any discount apart from our standard 2% discount, within 30 minutes we received the purchase order. How can such a big budget problem in an enterprise world got sorted in 30 minutes!!

Get maximum payment term and send a check

This is another trick from some of the bigger resellers. They will ask you for crazy payment terms like 60-90 days. Even after that term period you’ll not get the money, one of our admin staff needs to send numerous emails and telephone calls and finally they will send a check. The problem with international check is it takes minimum 6 weeks to clear. In some cases if there is any problem in the name, or signature etc. it can go up to 3-4 months.  Basically interest free money  (cash flow which is very important to run a business) for 6 months. More than that, it just adds lot of admin work on reconciling those amount.

So, what’s the solution?

It’s all about how strong you are. In 99% of the case resellers do not have any influence. When they come to you, the customer has already instructed for the purchase. Resellers are just the procurement vehicle. Define your own terms, we give 2% to keep the conversation smooth and we see it more as admin charges for working with resellers. In the same way define you own payment terms and stick to it. We also started charging 5% surcharge for people who wanted to pay by check, to discourage users who wants to go down that route.