Image via CrunchBase
In a previous post (Part 1) I talked about the cultural change inherent in being a social media savvy company, and related it to Microsoft and the recent Netprospex Social 50 survey ranking US companies on their social media savviness.
In Part 1 I explained why I thought Microsoft deserved more credit for attaining the #1 position in the social savvy rankings, as it indicated a capacity for organisational change which has been frequently questioned in recent years.
In this part I want to explore what it means in terms of competitive advantage that Microsoft is #1.
On ranking Microsoft is way ahead, and even further ahead on the survey scores where it is 100% more highly scored than Apple.
So what competitive asset does this give Microsoft and is it important?
It gives it a massive competitive asset in terms of engaging with partners and customers and potential customers, and yes it is very important.
Leaving aside the tremendous importance of the latter two aspects, I want to focus on its relationship with partners and resellers. Because of it's social media savvy and presence Microsoft has a tangible asset which it can leverage with partners, and which partners can leverage for themselves to build their own business. On the basis of this survey this is not something that they are going to get, for example, from IBM, nor to the same extent from say, HP. So if Microsoft acts to leverage this asset in a very proactive way it can build substantial competitive edge.
Channels and distribution strategy are always challenging areas, and on the edge of flux, and even more so today with cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) emerging.
The channel is under stress, and in particular the vendors' channel management is under stress. Getting it right is worth gold, and being the #1 social media savvy IT company is worth gold to Microsoft as this is an enabler of channel development (see the Empowering the Channel program of the Social Media Academy. and Resellers get Help with Social Media).
Ironically, I'd say that Microsoft is far far more social media savvy then its actual partners and resellers. So the opportunity for Micrsoft is to educate its channel - to enable the channel to use the social media assets.
And the opportunity for the smart channel partners is to get a step up on their competition whether that be other channel partners or channel partners of the competition.
This is a wondeful window of opportunity for Microsoft and for its partners. I wonder if they will act?