What’s inside the mind of Microsoft Business Partners

My spin:Microsoft Business Partners, technology consultants shared their insights in a Microsoft-commissioned study released today by St. Paul, Minnesota-based SoftwareMinds. This report gives a good overview of the direction the technology marketplace is going, in relation to consulting.
According to the press release:
The 33-page report focusing on business outlook and operational best-practices-the most comprehensive of its kind ever conducted with Microsoft’s Certified Partner Council-indicates that:
— Ninety-five percent of the more than 1,000 respondents expect revenue growth over the next 12 months, though 43 percent reported flat or declining revenues for the 12 months ended June 30, 2003, and 25 percent said they had been unprofitable during this period.
— More than one quarter of the respondents expect revenues to grow in excess of 25 percent in the next 12 months, and nearly half (48 percent) expect revenue growth of 5-25 percent in the same period.
— The overall economic climate was blamed by 60 percent of the respondents as the major contributing factor to underperformance during the prior 12 months. Other important contributing factors were changes in customer/prospect budgets, the global economic climate, competition and retention of sales personnel.
More than half of the respondents reported that adding new products or services had increased revenues, and was the most important contributing factor.
— Of the 11 industry segments named in the survey, respondents rated the financial services and insurance sectors as the most significant sources of ongoing and new revenues for Microsoft resellers.
— Not surprisingly, more than half of the respondents (60 percent) expect increasing revenues from products and services that address IT security needs.
The typical respondent was a nine-year-old firm with less than $5 million in annual revenues and with more than half of its revenues coming from the sale of IT consulting services. The full study covers business performance and outlook, consultant and trainer utilization, sales organization and compensation, marketing, and recruiting and retention.
“It’s been a tough economy for many of our partners, and it’s good to see the outlook for the coming year is more positive,” says Christina Hart, Microsoft’s manager of U.S. Certified Partners program. “We’re intent on helping our partners develop successful businesses, which, of course, will contribute to the fundamental health of the entire IT industry. This study on the best practices and outlook of Microsoft-certified services companies and resellers is one important way we provide value to our partners in their quest for improved business development.”
“The results of this study clearly indicate that future business growth for Microsoft business partners is quite favorable,” said Kirsten Chapman, SoftwareMinds’ marketing vice president. “And the high level of participation suggests these partners are concerned about improving business operations through a better understanding from peers of how to take advantage of expected industry growth.”
SoftwareMinds is an independent business operations research and publishing venture serving the information technology industry.