Our latest podcast – Should Microsoft buy Box?

Box recently received a $500 million investment from private equity firm KKR. Some industry experts are optimistic about the deal, seeing it as a way for the company to regain control by giving it some cash to make some moves. But Box’s stock price plummeted after the news.

 

In this podcast, we ask tech experts Chris Pyle (President, MessageOps) and Sharon Sumner (Microsoft MVP) whether Microsoft should buy Box in the context of its continued investment in Teams, OneDrive and SharePoint. We ask whether Box could bring any additional value to Microsoft’s enterprise cloud offering, and whether an acquisition by Microsoft is realistic or merely speculative.

 

Audio

 

Video


Microsoft Partner Top 50 Movers and Shakers: SEO Leaders

And just like that, another month passes us by. As summers go, it’s been a damp one. To awaken us from our damp stupor then, let’s shake things up with a slightly different look at this month’s Microsoft Partner Top 50 Movers and Shakers: the SEO Leaders.

We use a number of factors to determine the standings of our Top 50 – from content quality to social engagement. It all adds up to give a better understanding of how successful a company’s approach to marketing is. One of the key metrics taken into account is search engine optimisation (SEO). Everything that helps your website rank more highly on search engines is included in here.

But what makes for a good SEO performance? How do you boost your rankings? And is SEO worth it? We spoke to some of the partners with the best SEO scores in the Top 50 to find out.

 

How QorusDocs built their SEO foundation

QorusDocs is a proposal management software company, intent on streamlining the proposal process for businesses around the world. They’re currently in a solid 22nd place in our Top 50 and have the second highest SEO score of any of the partners.

We spoke to Jennifer Tomlinson, EVP of Marketing at QorusDocs and asked for the best search engine optimisation techniques. She responded:

“I’m a big believer in SEO and PPC in general, so we invested in a specialized performance marketing function that helps us navigate the ever-changing rules.”

Qorus rebranded to QorusDocs in April 2021. The company domain had always been Qorusdocs.com, so making the move to a standardised name and domain helped solidify the brand. This meant building a new website that is kept to current navigation and UX best practices.

“This really helped us set a new foundation for growth in SEO and with our PPC efforts…standardising on brand really helps everything function better.”

Jennifer emphasised the importance of taking a holistic approach, not just focussing on traffic or conversion rates on the website, but the number of conversations and conversions across all digital and social advertising.

“We closely monitor our SEO reports and advertising data to optimise, not just for great traffic but also for valuable conversions… This is how we gauge whether we are doing a good job each month with our investment in these areas.”

 

Consistency is key for LS Retail

LS Retail currently sit 41st in the Top 50 rankings, and with a solid 81.1 score in SEO, they’re in the higher echelons when it comes to search engine optimisation techniques. We reached out to Eloise Freygang, CMO at LS Retail to hear how they are improving their search performance and driving leads:

“During the past years, we have consistently worked on our website, with beautiful webpages and a clean, effective user experience that is easily discoverable in search. Also, we have put a lot of effort into driving traffic to our website, and the results are mostly due to the quality of the content that we produce.”

As Eloise also mentions, it isn’t possible to build a brand’s trust and credibility overnight. In the world of SEO, just like in real life, building a solid base of reliability takes time and effort, there aren’t any shortcuts.

“We have been steadily increasing organic traffic thanks to improvements and optimisation techniques applied to our own website, and other initiatives to improve our site's popularity, relevance, trustworthiness and authority”

This improvement in SEO also goes hand in hand with PPC. LS Retail continues to steadily increase paid search year after year, with a large effort going into creating and optimizing campaigns to increase lead generation. Eloise also spoke about the importance of content SEO:

“Content marketing is a cornerstone of our SEO efforts. We focus on quality and value rather than quantity, but we still produce and release a steady amount of new content in the form of blogs, product videos, white papers, customer stories and videos, web pages, and campaigns with third party thought leaders.”

Beyond this, social media marketing has proved to be an invaluable tool in LS Retail’s growth, reach, and brand recognition strategy. Paid campaigns on LinkedIn and Facebook have been key to some of the impressive results they’ve seen.

 

How Chorus stay ahead with SEO

Chorus are also at the head of the course when it comes to SEO. Lisa Treasure, Head of Marketing, talks us through their approach and what benefits the team has seen as a result of their search engine optimisation techniques.

“SEO is a significant component of our digital marketing strategy. A few key ways we ensure good SEO performance is to focus on great content, continuous optimisation and technical SEO.”

Lisa and the team know that keyword research and the right meta titles and descriptions are all vital, but what it all boils down to is creating content that people find valuable and engaging.

“We focus on creating articles and webpages that answer our audience’s questions and link to relevant resources, which naturally leads to increased backlinks, conversions and a higher domain authority”

Although great content is a crucial to achieving good SEO, continual input and other ‘On-Page’ SEO work is still required. Lisa expressed the importance of technical SEO practices:

“We have a range of analytics and SEO tools in place (e.g. Google Analytics, Moz) to track performance and optimise pages, using SEO best practices such as optimised page titles and meta descriptions, compressed images with alt tags, and good internal/external linking”

Getting the basics right is crucial for any SEO expert. It’s important to continually check to make sure theses benchmarks are being met. This ensures that all the hard work you put into your content is worthwhile.

“We make sure we review and optimise areas such as our site structure, XML sitemap, site speed, mobile usability, and we crawl for errors and fix them so that our site remains optimised.”

 

Check out the Microsoft Partner Top 50 and see how you compare

How does your search engine performance compare to these SEO leaders? Need help making your pages rank more highly? Looking for a hand with SEO optimised content? Get in touch and we’ll see how we can help.

Keep checking our continuously updated Top 50 Microsoft Partners to see how you and other partners are doing. To be one of the top-ranking Microsoft partners our list, you just need a good plan of action – a thoughtful strategy, a fool-proof schedule, and the resources (i.e. people with the right skills) to carry it out consistently. If you need help with any of your digital marketing, get in contact and we’ll be happy to help.


The Microsoft Partner Top 50 Movers and Shakers for July

July was a busy month for us here at Fifty Five and Five. Microsoft blessed us with a whole host of exciting announcements at their annual partner conference, Inspire; the team began returning to the office as restrictions in England started to ease (we even added some new office plants); and we also welcomed a new Writer to the team.

The hustle and bustle never stops apparently – and we quite like it that way! So, it will come as no surprise to you that our all-digital Microsoft Partner Top 50 also saw some significant movement among partners in July’s scores on the doors. Shall we take a look?

 

July’s Top Movers and Shakers

We’ll start by highlighting some of the great work demonstrated by four Microsoft partners as they made some impressive gains in this month’s Top 50. Those partners are:

  • Aptify

Aptify made the biggest leap in July’s Top 50, moving up 76 places to rank #26 at the time of this blog post. Now that’s an accomplishment to be proud of. Great work, Aptify!

Founded in 1993, Aptify has years of experience providing powerful, flexible and comprehensive Association and Membership Management Software solutions globally.

  • Adatis

Similarly, Adatis made significant gains, moving up 72 places to rank #21 at the end of July –  just behind Aptify. Still, this level of growth a seriously impressive feat. A huge well done.

Adatis are a specialist Data Analytics Consultancy and trusted Microsoft partner, who help organisations unlock the power and value from their data to enable them to improve business performance, better serve and engage customers, empower employees, find efficiencies, and remain compliant.

  • Blue Horseshoe

Blue Horseshoe entered the Top 50 for the very first time at the end of June. Since then, they’ve consistently ranked in the top 45, ranking as high as #23 and now ranking around #30. Considering they’ve were ranking around #100 at the start of 2021, you can colour us impressed.

Blue Horseshoe empowers business transformation where it counts most. They help companies define and plan their enterprise strategy, connect and collaborate with business applications, and optimize and execute supply chain operations.

  • Concurrency

Again, Concurrency were ranking in the #100s at the start of 2021, and only entered Top 50 for the first time in May. They have since been climbing the ranks, and have now been ranking in the Top 30 since the start of July. Very solid work.

Founded in 1989, Concurrency is a business and technology professional services firm driving technology innovation and organizational change management.

 

Encore on a “culture of content contributors”

The aim of this blog series is to provide insight for Microsoft Partners to help them achieve marketing success. Encore have consistently demonstrated their marketing excellence in the Microsoft Partner Top 50 – so we spoke to their VP of Marketing, Natalie Armstrong, to find out the secret behind their top-notch content.

Hi Natalie. Congrats on shooting into the Top 15! Tell us – what is your secret weapon for such great quality content?

“We’ve created a culture of content contributors at Encore. All our team members feel a sense of responsibility to share their knowledge in their individual areas of expertise. The ongoing collaboration with our inhouse SMEs has enabled us to sustain such a high volume of relevant and high-quality blog content over the last 3+ years.”

Great stuff. How do you keep your content driving people back?

“As well as sourcing new content we also spend a considerable amount of effort reviewing and updating older popular pieces of content that drive conversions. In addition to prioritizing our time and energy on optimizing content and users page experiences we dedicate time and budget dollars on our marketing technology and using it to help drive results and dictate our next decisions.”

Thanks, Natalie!

 

Where do you rank?

That’s it for the July edition of our Top 50 Movers and Shakers blog. Bookmark our continuously updated Top 50 Microsoft Partners to see how you and other Microsoft partners rank in the month ahead. And hey – you could even feature in August’s post!

At Fifty Five and Five, we help technology companies grow their business, drive brand awareness and achieve their marketing goals. If you need help with your digital marketing, get in touch with the team today.


The financial argument for investing in social media

B2B tech companies often ask us our opinion on the value of investing the time and resources (read: money) in developing a social media strategy. We always tell them that social media is a lynchpin of a great inbound marketing approach. But we have sometimes struggled to articulate just how much of an investment is required to generate a specific return. Until now.

Access our free report to get in-depth and quality data on the value of social selling and how you can apply it to your organisation. For example, did you know:

Companies that use social media at least once a week achieved lead deals 1.6 times larger than those who posted at least every month? Among this high performing group, deals were worth an average $75,000 dollars.

 

Get access to many more key findings here.


The Microsoft Partner Top 50 movers and shakers for June

The month of June is one of our favourites here at Fifty Five and Five. For starters, it’s officially summer, Pride is all month long and the sport of tennis drops into our lives for two weeks thanks to Wimbledon. And this June, we’ve also been enjoying the European Football Championships. What’s not to love?

 

So, in our mad summer haze of love and sport, we wanted to give a shoutout to a couple of Microsoft Partner Top 50 table success stories:

 

  • Rencore
  • Centric Consulting

 

If you are unfamiliar with it, the Microsoft partner Top 50 is where we and our exclusive algorithm position top ranking Microsoft partners according to the strength of their digital marketing. We look at their inbound marketing output: their website, blog and social media presence.

 

Want a comprehensive look at the Top 50 up until now?

Just in case you missed it, we covered the first half of the year (what, already!?) in a recent article. You can read it right here.

 

Two partners in profile

For a special June shoutout, we look at two top ranking Microsoft partners who have been consistently in our table and continue to either punch above their weight, and/or market themselves in line with their company values to great effect. Competing in a crowded field with much larger organisations is not easy, but Rencore do it with aplomb. Meanwhile, Centric Consulting are masters of building a brand voice.

 

Rencore

Headquartered in Munich, Germany and consistently growing since 2013, Rencore are experts when it comes to Microsoft 365 governance, “empowering everyone to reach business goals without friction.” The business is focused on helping customers stay in control of their Microsoft 365, Teams, SharePoint Online and Azure investments via the Rencore Platform solution.

 

For a team of 25 people in 2018, they pack a serious marketing punch and are a tremendously successful example of what good inbound marketing can do. At the time of writing they are in 11th place on our list, ahead of much larger brands like Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Rackspace, not to mention rival (and former Top 50 kingpin) ShareGate).

 

Rencore have the classic inbound marketing strategy patter down. Their website is clear and concise. They know their audience and the kind of content they will appreciate. At times, their content can be highly technical, but they are gifted at balancing being experts with being digestible – and dare we say... fun?

"We have an incredibly talented in-house team who work in a well-fostered, creative environment for producing new content ideas and designs and tailor them to our marketing channels and campaigns. In busy periods, we reach out to Fifty Five and Five to help support that effort, and they fit in seamlessly."

-        Matthias Einig, CEO and Co-founder at Rencore

 

Centric Consulting

Based in 14 locations across the United States, Centric Consulting provide top quality digital, business and technology consulting primarily focusing on business resilience and continuity. Something that’s ever more important in this day and age.

 

A company that began as an idea between three friends and grew organically from their living room before ever setting foot in an office, Centric are another terrific digital disruption success story. And their essential approach of “enjoying the people you work with, having fun and doing great work” is something that infiltrates its way into their marketing, too. Their position at 44th place, out of tens of thousands of partners, speaks to this core set of values. They have a top SEO score coupled with an almost equally excellent content score. Hop on to their website and be immediately engaged.

 

"For Centric Consulting, great content is rooted in three fundamentals. First, be timely and relevant, which includes paying close attention to the needs of customers and the market in general. Second, provide unique, helpful perspectives that provide value – arm your audience with information to elevate their work. And third, apply marketing fundamentals to everything – optimize all content for search, leverage a variety of marketing channels, and have a strategic plan that guides all activity."

-        Misty Walsh, National Marketing Director at Centric Consulting

 

Check out the Microsoft Partner Top 50 and see how you compare

Keep checking our continuously updated Top 50 Microsoft Partners to see how you and other partners are doing. To be one of the top-ranking Microsoft partners our list, you just need a good plan of action – a thoughtful strategy, a fool-proof schedule, and the resources (i.e. people with the right skills) to carry it out consistently. If you need help with any of your digital marketing, get in contact and we’ll be happy to help.


Man looking at Microsoft Top 50 partner stats

Microsoft Partner Top 50 – the highlights at halftime

We’re more than halfway through 2021, so, we thought it was the perfect time to take a breather, do some mid-season analysis, and look at the current state of play in our ongoing digital 2020/2021 Microsoft Partner Top 50 table. The Top 50 is where we and our proprietary algorithm rank partners based on their digital marketing.

Today, we’ll be casting a keen pundit’s eye over the movers and shakers, the surprises and the solid bets, and deliver some commentary on some of the partners that have done particularly well – and how they’ve done it.

Big risers in the league table

To kick off, let’s take a gander at some Microsoft partners who’ve made the biggest jump in the rankings this year. These partners have performed stunningly since October/November 2020, and that’s been reflected in how well their positions have improved since then.

 

Bizagi 

This partner, specialising in intelligent process automation, began outside the Top 130 back in Autumn 2020. But since then, they’ve been in and out of Top 10 at the turn of the year and have been Top 5 now since February. At the time of writing, Bizagi is the highest scorer for content, with an excellent, regularly updated blog, wide array of valuable downloadable resources, and more.

 

Catapult Systems 

IT services firm Catapult started well outside the Top 130 and have made steady improvement throughout. They’re now a regular Top 30 performer, ranking highly for SEO thanks to their highly optimised digital presence. They draw valuable traffic thanks to a broad scope of focus that targets many different customer industries and service areas, with all the right search touchpoints covered.

 

“This a great example of speaking to an increasingly business-focused audience.” – Catapult Systems’ Top 50 profile

 

TechQuarters 

TechQuarters, an IT support and Office 365 migrations company, had stayed mostly outside the Top 100 until recently, although they occasionally dipped into it. However, April saw a monumental leap, as they landed in the Top 10 and haven’t left it since. TechQuarters are also scoring very highly for SEO right now and are clearly winning big with both the search engines and visitors to their website.

 

Top 5 ever-presents

Nintex, NTT Ltd. and LiveTiles have been in the Top 5 since November 8th, with high all-round performance across our categories throughout the entire period. Each of these partners has long been well-known for their diligently curated digital presence, and we’re pleased to see them going from strength to strength.

 

Elsewhere among the top-ranking Microsoft partners, SkyKick has been in the Top 10 every week since the Top 50 was launched. A very strong showing from the cloud management software provider, and we’d attribute some of that to their spot-on tone-of-voice as well as brilliant work in content and search.

 

“Clear, consistent and full of value, they are doing inbound marketing the way it was meant to be done.” – SkyKick’s Top 50 profile

 

Always in the Top 20

The following partners have consistently remained in the Top 20. Many are familiar faces who have performed well in previous years’ Top 50s. They’ve outdone themselves this time, too:

 

harmon.ie – great social media presence and content

Pyramid Analytics – one of the very highest SEO scores

Veeam – engaging, detailed and valuable content

Sherweb – clear, compelling brand identity and value proposition

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) – excellent content and social channels

Automated Intelligence – expertise displayed compellingly and credibly

 

“Storytelling is crucial to generating a following on social media, and HPE are better at it than most.” – Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Top 50 profile

 

Special mentions

As our roundup draws to a close, we’d like to give a shoutout to a range of partners who have solidly stayed within the Microsoft Partner Top 50 all this time. There are too many to put a spotlight on individually, but each and every one has done great work cementing their positions so far:

 

ENow Nuix
Modality Systems BitTitan
Trend Micro Hitachi Solutions
Talk Think Do Cyber Ark
Cognizant Infragistics
Air IT Rackspace
Qorus Beezy
Okta ThirdSpace
KnowledgeWave Nutanix

 

There’s still everything to play for in the Microsoft Partner Top 50

We hope you’ve enjoyed our roundup. If you’re a Microsoft Partner and you weren’t featured, don’t worry – the game is still underway. Who knows what the next few months will bring? You could well be one of the top-ranking Microsoft partners in the Top 10 or even Top 5 next time we give our commentary.

 

Meanwhile, keep checking our continuously updated Top 50 Microsoft Partners to see how you and other partners are doing. Good luck!


Virtual team collaboration, Microsoft Viva and why organisation change doesn't have to suck

For the past year, businesses and workers everywhere have been facing a working situation that can most politely be described as ‘uncertain and fluid’. ‘Change’ has been one of the words that’s defined 2020 and 2021, often combined with the phrase ‘at relatively short notice’. Virtual team collaboration has been the hero of the hour, helping countless people and organisations to keep soldiering on and keep communication going – both externally and internally.

With all this in mind, we’ve been thinking about change and how businesses can best communicate it to employees – from mergers and acquisitions to internal restructuring – as well as how they’re getting it wrong. And (because we’re a tech company as well as a marketing agency) we’ve been mulling over the role technology can play in ensuring organizational change doesn’t, for want of a better word, suck.

Changing the channels

We conducted a survey recently that asked this question: “How has your company communicated organisational change during the pandemic?” Here’s how people responded:

  • Chat (Slack, Teams, etc.): 29%
  • Group video meeting: 29%
  • One-to-one video call: 18%
  • Email: 24%

As you can see, in total more than three quarters of the people we polled said that their organisations communicated change via platforms like Teams and Slack or via video meetings/calls, rather than by email. This is encouraging – it indicates that businesses are taking advantage of the new channels open to them today, not just sticking with email, that overly formal old stalwart of internal comms that’s not too many rungs above a letter.

Organisations – and the creators of the tech they use – are clearly giving some consideration to how remote employee communication can do the job it needs to. That means helping to maintain company culture and unity and ensure change is conveyed and handled well.

Nurturing the life and soul of your business

The release of Microsoft Viva earlier this year shows that Microsoft, for one, has been thinking about how customers can do a better job of employee comms, engagement and support. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Well, maybe a year earlier, but they’re not Nostradamus, are they?

Microsoft says that Viva is designed to help organizations to amplify culture and communications, balance productivity and wellbeing, harness knowledge and expertise, and accelerate skilling and growth. It does this via a series of modules:

  • Connections – curated, company-branded gateway for news, talk and resources
  • Insights – a data-driven, privacy-protected view into productivity and wellbeing
  • Learning – encouraging and empowering employee education and development
  • Topics – organising organizations’ content and expertise and facilitating access

Sounds good, right? We’ll be sure to let you know our verdict when we’ve had a chance to test out this new set of tools over a proper period of time, but right now we can say that Viva looks extremely promising. And if you want to try Viva for yourself, you can learn more about it here.

Our CEO’s advice for internal communications

Like most organizations out there, Fifty Five and Five has handled its own fair share of organisational change during the last twelve months – you’d be surprised if we said we hadn’t, right?

As he captained our ship through the strange and stormy seas of the COVID-19 pandemic, our founder and CEO Chris Wright has his own insights into how best to communicate change. Take it away, Skipper:

  • “Communicating change only via chat messages is 100% the worst idea. Even if it’s harder to do it (nobody likes delivering bad news) change should always be shared face-to-face first or at least video.”
  • “Re-enforcing important messages in posts is fine, but that isn't how people should find out in this kind of information the first place. I think you owe it to people to explain it properly, in your own voice.”
  • “Company-wide change is hard to communicate in one go. I often think it’s best to share news about change with the people who it will have the most impact on first of all. Then tell the wider group.”
  • “Giving people a forum to ask questions is important. People need time to collect their thoughts after the initial announcement, and if you provide more Q&A opportunities, they’ll always think of new questions or remember thing they missed.”

There you have it – while making posts or sending messages via virtual team collaboration tools may be perfect for keeping business going during times of widespread remote working, it’s not the best channel for conveying organization change. For those purposes, there’s no substitute for talking face-to-face – even if those faces might be appearing in video feeds, rather than directly facing each other.

Toba’s tips for communicating organization change

Toba Shahabi is Fifty Five and Five’s Head of Project Management. And as a member of the Leadership Team as well as the Employee Representative, she also plays a central role in communication between management and the rest of the agency.

So, who better to consult on a topic like this? Toba shared her own thoughts on communicating organization change:

  • "Adaptable and fluidity are key. Change should be up for discussion if possible. The idea that the people in your organisation won't have an opinion on a particular change could be a huge oversight. And you as a company should strive to be able to take on feedback about change in a responsive way. Things should be able to adapt towards a more practical and hopefully more efficient future after employees voice their feedback."
  • "Keep it frequent. Adopt a variety of styles of comms to suit different people's preferences. More importantly, provide consistent and frequent touchpoints to check in with employees. This allows leaders to have a pulse on the feelings of the company at any given time. That allow them to either continue or change track depending on positive or negative feedback."
  • "Don’t be a dictatorship. Being rigid in terms of policy and not asking for feedback is a sure way to find your colleagues and employees frustrated and looking for other companies to work for, especially, ones who will listen."

Good advice, I think you’ll agree. Transparency and opportunities for open dialogue are always appreciated – after all, communication is a two-way street. Remembering that is sure to set organisations in good stead – whatever changes they need to communicate, and via whichever methods they choose to communicate it.


Podcast image - Hybrid working: is it here to stay?

Our latest podcast - Hybrid working: is it here to stay?

COVID-19 has accelerated the move to hybrid working for many businesses. As lockdowns were imposed and offices closed, the cloud became essential for accommodating remote employees. However, now that life—and business—is beginning to get back to normal, what does this mean for hybrid working? Is it here to stay? We called Rebecca Zaagman and Adam Devereaux, IT specialists at Worksighted and asked them if hybrid working may be the key to success for growing businesses now and in the future.



Microsoft's Gavriella Schuster on resilience, triumph and transformation in business today

What a year it’s been. We caught up with Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner, to get her take on the past twelve months and what’s been happening with Microsoft partners around the world. You can listen to the conversation in full in our podcast here.  

 

Staying connected

Speaking about Microsoft’s partners’ experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gavriella described a situation many can relate to. Suddenly, with working from home and travel restrictions, partners have been presented with more time. This has meant added potential for productivity but has introduced new issues when it comes to staying connected, so the number of roundtables and checkpoints taking place via Teams have increased accordingly.

 

“...setting boundaries so that work doesn’t become a 24-hour sport...”

 

On the flipside, Gavriella and the partners have also had to ensure they aren’t too connected. That means nurturing the right work/life balance, preventing ‘camera fatigue’, and thinking about how to help people thrive in the ‘new normal’ of work. And cometh the hour, cometh the new Microsoft solution. 

 

Viva la Viva

As Gavriella told us, the launch of Microsoft Viva early in 2021 was a culmination of Microsoft’s learnings throughout the pandemic, and was developed with three aims in mind:

  • Building resilience 
  • Putting people first 
  • Staying connected

Viva brings together communications, knowledge, learning and insight into a single integrated employee experience directly in Microsoft Teams. It’s there to empower people and teams to be their best wherever and however they work and bring organisation and flow to all the elements workers needs to be successful.

 

“We really want people to work smarter, not longer. 

 

Boosting businesses’ immune systems

“No business is immune to a crisis and no business is 100% resilient.” We definitely agree with Gavriella on this point. And we also agree with her following remark: “But digital businesses and those fortified with digital capabilities have been able to pivot more rapidly.”

If the previous 12 months have taught us anything, it’s that organisations need the capability to digitally connect every facet of their business.  A positive, lasting legacy from 2020 may be that partners and customers across the world have created the networks needed for that connection. Something that may have begun as a measure to safeguard business continuity has the potential to be much more, improving speed of business in all kinds of ways – from customers to employees to operations to products.  

 

Helping customers prevail in a crisis

We discussed partners’ responses to the pandemic. The key opportunities have been around remote work: getting customers up and running remotely quickly, ensuring their business continuity and resilience, and putting everything in a ‘bubble of security’ – data, users and infrastructure. Gavriella was impressed by partners’ innovation and how they’ve swiftly and decisively responded to this need, dubbing them ‘digital first responders’.

 

...incredible speed, agility and work...”

 

For those unfamiliar with the term, a first responder is someone who is among the first to arrive at the scene of an emergency and provide assistance. The digital first responders of the Microsoft Partner Network have done just that in response to the COVID-19 crisis, answering customers’ callsputting them first, minimising downtime and enabling business to go on.

Gavriella was struck by how these partners were able to get customers up and running in as little as 24 hours and complete cloud migrations in just a quarter of a year instead of as much as 18 months. They should be very proud of these achievements, we think  and it’s a great reflection on the Microsoft Partner Network as a whole.

 

“The best of our partners has come out through this.”

 

As we’ve also heard from many of our clients over the last yearGavriella noted that Microsoft Power Apps was a very useful tool in a partner’s pandemic toolbox. The low-code development platform’s capabilities for creating bespoke software solutions made it the perfect digital Swiss army knife for organizations everywhere.

With Power Apps, partners could quickly and easily “plug holes and create new business process”, as Gavriella put it. The platform’s value has definitely been put to the test, demonstrated immense value and will now be a firm fixture in many businesses’ innovation initiatives in the future.  

 

Gavriella’s advice for Microsoft Partner marketing

Toward the end of our talk, we brought up a topic we’d been particularly eager to discuss: marketing strategy. We wanted to know Gavriella’s thoughts on what makes for the most successful Microsoft Partner marketing now and moving forward. She provided some excellent advice which we agree with wholeheartedly.

 

Hone in on a single thing that makes you really stand out.”

 

Gavriella emphasised the need to focus on your value proposition and what differentiates you, your business model, your engagement strategy and the solutions you deliver. As she says, that’s how to ensure your organisation stands out from countless others and gets your unique value across to customers.

Once a partner has defined the compelling core of their value proposition, it’s time to make it their digital marketing platformIt’s important to be clear about it and be sure to communicate it in the simple language that’s as accessible and compelling to your audience as possible.

 

Make sure that you’re not talking tech... but talking outcomes.”

 

Gavriella was preaching to the choir here. At Fifty Five and Five we are firm believers in telling powerful, benefit-led marketing stories that present clients’ full valuereally speak to their customers and address their goals and challenges – instead of just bombarding them with technical terminologyThat’s central to our approach to business-to-business tech marketing – before the COVID-19 outbreaktodayand long into the future.

Aalways, it was great to catch up with Gavriella, and we’re always fortunate when she shares her insights with us.

If you want to hear everything Gavriella said, including her advice for women in tech todayit’s all here in our podcastOr if you’d like to discuss how Fifty Five and Five can help you reach your marketing goals, just get in touch.


Podcast image - Is this the end of the world...run on spreadsheets?

Our latest podcast - The future of work with Gavriella Schuster

In episode #6 of our podcast we are embracing video! And we have a special guest, none other than Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner.

The current landscape has provided a massive opportunity for B2B technology companies to help their customers negotiate a world of remote and hybrid working, and at the same time take advantage of the need that organisations of all sizes have for technology. We’re moving into a world where hybrid working is the norm, the modern workplace is digital, and the strength of your business may come down to the power of your solutions.

Who better to help us discuss this subject matter than Gavriella?

In this episode, we’ll discuss:  

  • The changing face of work in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The role technology has to play in bringing remote employees and hybrid workplaces together
  • The opportunity for Microsoft partners to help shape the future of how we work
  • The role marketing can play to help partners take advantage of this opportunity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMdHLU-R3uY