Former Microsoft execs lend a hand to VARs

Former Microsoft executives have a common story to tell.

Most worked a long time at the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant before realizing they had reached a point in their careers that they needed to do something different. So they left to form Internet start ups, or become the CEO of a small Silicon Valley high tech company or cash in their stock options and buy the Professional Bowlers Tour.
The following is not one of those stories, says Jeff Sampson, the president, CEO and co-founder, of Kineticsware, on why he and fellow founder Richard Barnett left comfortable jobs late last year.

The two men believe there is a gap in the market created by Microsoft’s Dynamics AX and CRM products that their Kirkland, Wash., company can fill.

Both Sampson and Barnett worked at Microsoft’s Axapta division (now called AX) as the global director of business and channel management and director of product marketing for the product line respectively. According to Sampson, the unit was treated as an Internet start up, hiring executives from start-ups, which Sampson and Barnett had experience in.

They started Kineticsware to help accelerate the adoption of AX and CRM. They believe the market for these products will grow eight to 10 times the market rate, but few outside the Microsoft ecosystem know about it.

The target for Kineticsware are the more than 20,000 Microsoft partners around the world. Sampson said that all of these partners have several competencies and their own comfort zone.

“Microsoft needs to help in this white space to build a global software business with all the recently introduced functionality and do it in such as way as to grow the number of Microsoft certified professionals and increase that skill set,” Sampson said.

Kineticsware has already signed up five partners, including two from Canada – Habanero and Sierra Systems – and is looking to triple that by the end of the year before it focuses on the European market.

“With Habanero, you have a partner with a solution based on SharePoint, and they have improved the usability of the app. But they are just getting started building a Microsoft Dynamics practice. They are stalled with the support they get from Microsoft.

“We work with these kinds of partners who have a different core competency and support them with demand generation, pre- and post-sales support, training and work with them on a repeatable business model,” Barnett said.

The gap Sampson and Barnett are trying to exploit starts where Microsoft, product overviews, support and marketing collateral end and where a partner gains knowledge of a particular industry.

For example, Sampson said Kineticsware can teach a partner about the apparel and textile industries. The offering drills down into supply portals, e-commerce portals, procurement and how to generate billable resources.

“If you were just certified by Microsoft to become a partner, who would you call to get the knowledge of global field sales, demand generation, qualified professionals to deliver perfect customer services?

“These are all pangenetic questions. If you can’t answer these questions you do not have a business. But even with this disconnect the business is growing at eight to 10 times the market,” Sampson said.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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