REDMOND, Wash., May 20, 2002 — Enthusiasm is running high at the second quarterly meeting of the Microsoft Mobility Partner Advisory Council (MPAC), a gathering of Microsoft and its industry partners who build on the Windows Powered mobile platforms. At the meeting, which begins today in Seattle, members talk of innovative new products in development, discuss joint ventures, share stories of co-marketing coups, and boast — just a little — of new investors making inquiries.
Although council membership represents a broad range of industries and solution types, theres agreement on one thing: the very real benefit of building strong working relationships among development partners and Microsoft to create joint impact.
“MPAC is of tremendous benefit to us,”
says John Dancu, president and chief operating officer of Synchrologic.
“Having an advocate at Microsoft is invaluable. MPAC also gives us a vehicle to establish relationships with our peers and to find out what our common ground is. Having an institutional mechanism that gets us all together, given how busy we all are, is really a big benefit.”
Recent statistics show an explosion of interest in mobility products built on Windows Powered platforms.
MPAC was formed in January to build a stronger relationship between Microsoft and companies that develop solutions on the Pocket PC 2002 and the Smartphone 2002 platforms. The council serves as a forum for focused feedback on development issues related to the Microsoft platforms, as well as to provide new technical, marketing and business development opportunities to companies that use Microsoft technology in the mobility space.
Another reason Microsoft created MPAC was to give its development partners access to technical resources, such as architectural support for beta products and access to development tools. The company also wanted to share marketing and sales support with its partners. These included
activities surrounding the release of products, plus co-branding, marketing and communication support.
The result is a team of respected leaders, in an environment where synergy sparks between peer companies.
Framework for Success
“For Satyam, the MPAC is a forum to represent customer thought,”
says Hari Natarajan, assistant vice president of Satyams Microsoft Strategic Relationship Unit, a dedicated relationship and program management team that focuses on global success with Microsoft.
“We are one of a handful of companies that has invested in building solution frameworks for different vertical industries,”
“Our responsibility is to come out with creative ways to help get the customer to market faster.”
Satyam is a global systems integrator with a presence in 43 countries across five continents and a customer base in more than 260 global companies, some 60 of them Fortune 500 corporations. Satyam provides research, analysis, architecture, design, development and deployment of enterprise solutions on Windows Powered mobile platforms. According to Natarajan, a typical engagement for Satyam might be working with a verticalized enterprise corporation – in banking or insurance, for example — to help the company extend the power of its existing enterprise solutions into line-of-business mobile solutions on Microsoft mobile platforms.
“When companies want to go truly wireless on mobile devices,”
many times the challenge is to visualize the solutions business and technical workflow in that particular vertical environment. Satyam builds vertical frameworks that allow companies to increase the speed to market for their products, because we have already designed the underlying plumbing and infrastructure.
“it’s a ‘plug, customize and play’ model.”
For Satyam, the most salient benefit of belonging to the MPAC is the level of technical support available to members.
“Our greatest advantage is the extraordinary executive attention we receive from Microsoft as we respond to customer challenges. We can offer to solve our customers problems today, and also assure them that they are making a secure investment in the future.”
Participating in the council, says Natajaran,
“gives its members the opportunity to be architects for the future of mobility.”
Says Jeff Curtis, executive vice president of Pharos Science and Applications,
“Theres a lot of credibility being associated with Microsoft. When we go into the marketplace and say we are members of MPAC, we get a positive reaction. People think youre obviously a very serious company if youre working with Microsoft.”
With just 35 employees, Pharos — the leading provider of PDA-based GPS navigation, routing, and location-centric applications — also appreciates the opportunity to co-market and share PR opportunities.
He also values the opportunity to build relationships with his peers through the MPAC forums.
“It can take an awfully long time to build leads and contacts on your own. It makes it simple to create synergy between companies when they have been pre-approved, so to speak, by Microsoft,”
Membership a Plus for Independent Software Vendors
Synchrologics John Dancu agrees that there are high-level business benefits for membership in MPAC.
“We look at MPAC as a resource for ideas regarding how all of us can build business opportunities together rather than as a forum for trading development resources or ideas. We look for ways that we can create market impact among ourselves, Microsoft and other partners in MPAC.”
Synchrologic builds mobile infrastructure solutions that mobilize enterprise e-mail and applications, automate the delivery of documents and Web sites, and provide mobile systems management tools for laptops, handhelds and Smartphones.
“We basically take data from any enterprise server, and we extend that to a mobile device, through any means of connectivity,”
“For us, the real benefit of our membership in MPAC is access to early beta software. For instance, its important for us to get that first version of Smartphone, because we are developing for that platform.”
Dancu also appreciates the fact that MPAC members have an advocate at Microsoft, watching out for their interests.
“I think the folks at MPAC are just great. Theyre really focused. Because they know you and your business, they can represent us positively to Microsoft and the members of MPAC. Having the ability to discuss how we can complement Microsoft technology and together drive solutions and revenue in the marketplace is a very important thing.”
Other mobility developers would benefit from joining MPAC, Dancu says.
“Members get access to early beta products, receive PR and marketing support, and can take advantage of dedicated technical assistance. Were all in a very fast-moving industry, and having the ability to access these resources has been critical to the success of our company.”
Keith McNally, senior vice president of Ameranth Wireless, a leading provider of wireless system software to the hospitality and health care markets, says his firm has received everything from marketing support, early exposure to upcoming software to PR support and technical guidance from Microsoft Consulting Services.
“We couldnt be happier,”
MPAC’s second quarterly meeting coincides with Ameranth’s release of Hostalert, a customer wait-list and paging system for use in the restaurant industry. Hostalert, jointly developed by Ameranth and J-Tech — the world leader in paging systems with 60,000 installed locations — operates on Microsoft Windows Powered Pocket PCs and Tablet PCs, and interfaces with wireless pagers. The system will automatically track restaurant reservations, wait-lists and empty tables, and instantly link them with hungry diners through the use of wireless, mobile computing. Hostalert is a key element within Ameranths patented 21 st Century Restaurant System.
McNally worked closely with the MPAC team on the launch of Hostalert.
“Microsoft Consulting helped us secure a beta testing agreement in one of the nations largest casual restaurant chains,”
“The MPAC team was also integral to our marketing efforts, which will drive the future of our alliance with Microsoft.”
In addition, MPAC is working closely with Ameranth to launch Hostalert at the Chicago National Restaurant Association (NRA) trade show, which opened Saturday and runs through Tuesday.
McNally says the experience of working with MPAC has surpassed his expectations.
“Here I am,”
“the founder of a small company in San Diego, partnered with the most powerful technology company in the world. You might wonder if we could get the attention we need. But its been just a fabulous experience, everything I hoped it would be and more. They have been there for us. When we needed help theyve provided it. Microsoft has been just tremendous.”