Obviously there are risks associated with extrapolating a trend from a particular issue, but I did find it interesting that the chaps at YellowPark found it so hard to get any response from Microsoft about Live Meeting when they wanted to demonstrate the tool to a potential new client.
I know Chris Dalby pretty well and so when he complains that he is recieving poor service from Microsoft I take it seriously. YellowPark is a Microsoft Certified Partner and pays more than a grand a year for the privilege; one would assume therefore that if Chris calls MS’s Ask Partner line that he will get a response. It is now three working days and counting…
The technology is good, but Microsoft doesn’t seem to have realised either the product potential or the channel structure involved. Live Meeting is software that is hosted only, it is very much intended as a subscription-based service. There are three distributors in the UK.
So where are the resources for smaller players that are going to resell the uberhosts?
Sort out the documentation Microsoft. Its called an onramp. If you want to build a Live Meeting community surely you need to start with the channel, not the end user. Never mind employee incentives, what about channel incentives?
It seems to me that they have under-estimated the power of Microsoft Live Meeting and the ability of existing parners to sell this to a huge existing customer base. Hence, they have not arranged a suitable support structure for people like us on Live Meeting.
The reason I say this is because whenever I call Microsoft about resources for partners selling Live Meeting, I feel like a square peg trying to be stuffed down a round hole.
One reason MS needs to put its weight behind the community is that Live Meeting is an anomaly. Its collaboration software but its not Microsoft Exchange. It’s part of Office System but its hosted only. Live Meeting, and the hosted model, represents Microsoft’s future but it also doesn’t fall very easily into traditional Microsoft product buckets or business models. Neither fish, nor chicken, maybe its a frog, so how can Microsoft turn it into prince?
At first sight the fact Live Meeting is a “tweener”, falling in between different product categories and existing business models, makes it look like an opportunity for Lotus. Thus, for example, Ed Brill points to a recent win/renewal at DaimlerChrysler.
The ROI of being able to deploy one product to tackle messaging, sharing, and workflow is clearly how DaimlerChrysler benefits from Notes/Domino today.
Let’s look at this from another perspective. When Chris finally got the attention of one of the disties, he was able to close a deal with a customer on his first pitch. No Exchange, no Office, no other Microsoft software. The channel is always hungry for new opportunities.
Which brings us to the the other side of the coin for Lotus. What about prospects that don’t want to buy everything from IBM? What about channel players that only want to roll out online conferencing? Or just sell email, perhaps?
The problem with Live Meeting is that it’s somewhat decoupled from Microsoft’s Office and Exchange franchises.
The advantage of Live Meeting is that it’s somewhat decoupled from Microsoft’s Office and Exchange franchises.
We’re talking thin slices, lower barriers to entry, and true service orientation – in other words why buy a monolith, if that means integrated aggravation?
Microsoft can fix the channel problems, and we’ve seen similar issues plenty of times before. Live Meeting becomes just another entry point to Microsoft, rather than a final destination.
Lotus technology is now componentised. But what about the business model? Where are your hosting partners?
We may be moving into a new age of service-oriented computing, and “no 2 software” players like salesforce.com, but that doesn’t mean the channel is dead.