Microsoft's partner locator tool Pinpoint has come under fire from some of its UK partners, which claim that working out how to be successful on the site is something of a "black art".
Pinpoint is an online partner directory which ranks partners according to a number of criteria, including geographic location, quantity and rank of Competencies, industry focus and certifications.
The site has been a bone of contention for the channel in the past, and now partners have spoken out about it again in the hope that Microsoft will make improvements.
Some partners have said that the algorithm which determines how high partners are listed in the rankings places too much emphasis on geographic location, which they claim is almost irrelevant in a cloud-focused market, while others have claimed not enough emphasis is placed on partners that have achieved top-level Gold Competencies.
Andy Trish, managing director of NCI Technologies, said: "I haven't used Pinpoint in a while, mainly because any 'leads' I get from it are sales pitches – there are no leads. The reality is because your name is listed on a Microsoft site, it's a marketing site for salespeople to say 'oh I know, I'll send a message and see if I can sell them my stuff'. I have never found it a useful tool."
Trish added that in the past, when Pinpoint was first launched, it was a tool for Microsoft to pass leads to the channel, but he claims that as the vendor has moved towards cloud, this has been less of a priority for it, making Pinpoint less important.
Steve Cox, chief operating officer at Microsoft partner TSG, agreed that Pinpoint needs some improvement, especially when it comes to learning what information is required in order to rank highly.
"It's a bit of a black art in terms of putting the right information in to get up the lists," he said. "It's almost like you're having to do SEO [search engine optimisation] to get your site up there. It doesn't focus on the core things such as Gold Competencies and the customers you've sold to, which is a more accurate representation of a partner."
CRN understands some partners opted not to bother getting listed on Pinpoint in the first place for fear that customers do not know it exists, let alone how to use it and get value from it.
Kelvin Kirby, chief executive of Technology Associates, said he hopes improvements are on the way.
"Pinpoint as a concept is great," he said. "But I just think it needs to be refined a little going forward. I would be optimistic that we might see some core announcements at WPC this year."
Microsoft was unavailable to comment on the claims but the firm has made recent announcements which suggest that the partner locator tool has not been forgotten.
As of January this year, Microsoft partners no longer have to include customer satisfaction data as a requirement to achieve Gold Competencies. Instead, partners are able to show off customer recommendations and references through Pinpoint.
"In late 2014, we relaunched Pinpoint as an open marketplace to allow Microsoft partners to promote and sell their services and products," the firm said on a blog post announcing the customer satisfaction changes.
"Customer reviews and ratings were additionally built into Pinpoint, making it easier for you to solicit feedback from customers. Favourable Pinpoint reviews from customers are critical components to raising your visibility among peers and future customers."
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