Microsoft recently worked with MarketTools's Zoom Panel Tech to conduct an online survey of 2000 IT professionals about if, how and why they use solution providers (IT consultants, resellers, system integrators and hosted service providers.)  The results verify what we've heard repeatedly from customers and partners:  IT departments want strategic solution providers that truly help drive business results - what we often refer to as "trusted advisors" - and they want their solution providers to align closely with Microsoft. 

Some of the more interesting survey findings:

  • Over 70% of IT pros surveyed use some sort of solution provider (consultant, reseller, system integrator or hosted service provider.)
  • 42% of IT decision makers view solution providers as "highly" or "extremely" influential in the direction of their IT systems, versus other outside influences, such as vendors, peers, publications and analysts.
  • About 40% of IT decision makers say their solution providers significantly help them save money (7, 8 or 9 out of 1-9 scale.)
  • "Strategic advice, guidance and overall expertise" (39%) were cited by IT decision makers as the most important value provided by solution providers, over skills such as deployment and implementation (21%) or ongoing support/maintenance (14%)
  • 54% of IT decision makers say "Overall planning, strategy and management" by solution providers provide the greatest value versus specific technical cababilities, such as systems management (38%), storage and disaster recovery (35%), virtualization (34%), security (28%) and others.
  • 47% of IT decision makers want their solution providers to most closely align with MSFT - by far the top vendor preference versus IBM (12%), HP (10%), Vmware (9%), Symantec (2%), RedHat (2%), Other (8%)

Related to this, IDC's June 2009 study "Microsoft Core Infrastructure: Partner Pathway to Business Performance" reports that partners that achieve 2 or more MS Partner Network infrastructure competencies realize 68% larger deal sizes and 28% more revenue per employee.

In our view, these data points highlight the fact that working with MS is a great way for partners to be a trusted adviser to their clients, and to grow their own business, as well.  And the opportunities are even greater with the launches of Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 7, Exchange 2010, new Forefront solutions, etc. 

As part of our efforts to give partners the guidance they need to succeed, we recently launched http://www.InfrastructurePracticeBuilder.com/

Joel Sider, Core Infrastructure Marketing