Microsoft Canada (NASDAQ: MSFT) partners from across Canada gathered at the Granite Club in Toronto yesterday to honour innovation and achievement in the software giant’s partner channel at the 2008 Impact Awards.
Some 31 different awards were handed-out, including four categories that are new for 2008: Unified Communications Partner, Large Account Reseller – Program Excellence, Strategic Reseller and Hosting Solutions Partner.
Microsoft Canada president Phil Sorgen noted there was a 30 per cent increase in submissions this year, speaking to the strength of innovation in the partner community. He added some 90 people across Microsoft Canada got involved in judging the submissions, a testament to how seriously the organization takes the awards.
“What I love about the Impact Awards are the stories that come out from the partners,” said Sorgen. “We confidently say consistently we have the best partner ecosystem in the industry, and this is recognition of the best of the best.”
Lora Gernon, director, partner group at Microsoft Canada, added Impact winners are able to leverage the recognition to win new business and gain credibility in the marketplace. In the new categories in particular, said Gernon, such as UC, partners are doing some great work.
“It’s exciting to see some of the great work our partners are doing in those areas,” she said. “There’s some really great stories.”
And the stories are continuing to come despite the uncertain economic climate. Sorgen said he’s confident and optimistic that this economic cycle actually represents opportunities for Microsoft and its partners, saying at this point the vendor’s pipelines look healthy.
“We know we have the solutions that address the three most important areas customers are looking for: things that enable their people to be more productive, things that enable them to be a more agile organization to respond to new opportunities, and things that help them save money,” said Sorgen. “That plays to our strong suits and our partner strong suits.”
Gernon added that the partners that are succeeding today are doing so by speaking to the concerns of customers around TCO, ROI and optimizing the software investments that customers have already made.
“Those are really great opportunities right now for our partners to take advantage of the fact customers are looking to do as much as they can with the investments they make,” said Gernon.
Mississauga, Ont.-based Envision IT, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and development shop, took home the Custom Development Solution award for its work with Cadillac Fairview using SharePoint Server 2007 and .NET.
The project involves the creation of 26 public Web sites built on SharePoint for various Cadillac Fairview properties, beginning with the Toronto Eaton’s Centre. The Web sites include a .NET interface that allows mall tenants to post content to the Web site, from store promotions to job openings.
Envision president Peter Carson said it was a solution that drew on the developer’s past expertise with .NET and also helped them develop new expertise with SharePoint.
“It’s sort of a hybrid solution of a very custom piece built for that purpose, and an out of the box Sharepoint for the Web content management,” said Carson.
On the economic front, Carson echoed Sorgen and Dearn, saying Envision sees a healthy sales pipeline for some time to come.
“We’ve got very long-term relationships with our clients and we work on large projects that can span six months to multi-year, and those are full steam ahead,” said Carson. “We haven’t seen a sales impact or customers looking to differ decisions at this point.”
Full list of winners:
Advanced Infrastructure Solution of the Year
Horn IT Solutions Inc.
Business Intelligence Partner of the Year
Community Leadership Award
Mercer-MacKay Solutions Inc.
Custom Development Solution of the Year
Customer Experience Award
TGO Consulting Inc.
Data Management Solution of the Year
JMP Engineering Inc.
Desktop Deployment of Office & Windows Vista
Hosting Solutions Partner of the Year
Information Worker Solution of the Year
Ideaca Knowledge Services Ltd.
ISV/Software Solution of the Year
Varicent Software Inc.
LAR of the Year – Program Excellence
Learning Solution of the Year
Nexient Learning Inc .
Licensing or Software Asset Management Solution of the Year
Marketing Innovation Award – Enterprise
Marketing Innovation Award – Small, Medium Business
Microsoft Business Solution of the Year
Mobility Solution of the Year
Networking Infrastructure Solution of the Year
IT Matters Inc.
Security Solution of the Year
CMS Consulting Inc.
Small Business Specialist of the Year
ITNorth.ca Network and Consulting Service
SOA and Business Process Solution of the Year
Unified Communications Partner of the Year
MTS Allstream Inc.
Winning Customer Award
MYTRAK Health System Inc.
Distributor of the Year – OEM
Distributor of the Year – Finished Goods
LAR OF THE YEAR – Licensing Revenue
Microsoft Business Solutions Partner of the Year – License Sales
Ideaca Knowledge Services Ltd.
Microsoft Business Solutions Partner of the Year – Customer Adds
BDO Dunwoody LLP
Reseller of the Year – Open License Revenue
Programmer’s Paradise (Canada) Inc.
Strategic Reseller of the Year
IAMCP Partner of the Year
Encore Business Solutions