Microsoft's partner directory Pinpoint could be set to face competition as a new partner search site is ramping up its market presence.
PartnerPulse was set up in October last year and is contunining to develop the site ahead of a wider launch in the summer. The site aims to offer a more social media-integrated platform to list Microsoft's UK partners in response to the "basic and un-navigable" offerings currently on the market.
The new venture claims it does not want to directly compete with Microsoft's offering, but wants to serve resellers in a more digital-focused way.
Microsoft's official partner locator Pinpoint came under fire last year after it was hit by a scam in which channel sources claimed some VARs entered false and misleading information in order to appear higher in its rankings. The vendor says it now monitors the site with spot checks in response and that the resource is as good as it has ever been.
A variety of other Microsoft partner search sites exist currently, but Chris Wright, a SharePoint business specialist who founded the new site, said PartnerPulse aims to take a different tack by focusing on social interaction.
"After working in the channel and hearing grumbling about Pinpoint, and by looking at its marketing, I saw a gap in the market. Companies were not marketed very well [on it], and were not using Twitter and digital well either.
"Every partner has a profile page where they can add images to their activity wall.
"Anyone can post comments, reply to them, see images, videos and other rich media – that is what a Pulse is. It's about interaction and conversation," he said, adding that in the long term, he hopes partners will be able to achieve a score and ranking based on the number of Pulses on their page.
The new venture currently lists 2,000 partner profiles based on public information, 200 of which are managed by resellers. A core of 50 very active users is helping to develop the site ahead of its wider launch at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in July.
Managing director of Midlands-based Storm IT Paul Spelling said he was intrigued by the concept of the new site.
"[The concept] has definitely got my attention, but we quite like Pinpoint as it sometimes promotes us and we have gained business from it.
"Most of our new business comes from word of mouth, though, and through recommendations," he said, adding that any new listing site would still be helpful for bringing in new business.
Claire Ashby, marketing consultant at Microsoft-only reseller Core GB, said the VAR was happy with Pinpoint, but does not rule out the added benefits of social media.
She said: "We are happy with Pinpoint. With social media, while there is room for it, whether it is right for this sort of portal is difficult to say. However, we will use the platform and judge on the results we see."
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