Microsoft has hailed the arrival of its new "referral engine", which it claims will do a better job of connecting partners with customers than Pinpoint, which is being axed.
Microsoft Pinpoint has been around for eight years and is effectively a partner locator, which allows users to input certain search criteria – such as a geographic location or a Microsoft specialty – in order to bring up a list of specific results.
The site has been divisive and has faced a number of complaints in recent years from partners who grumbled that the site's ranking algorithm was off or placed emphasis on what they believed to be trivial things. A number of Pinpoint-style rival search offerings have popped up as a result in recent years, with varying levels of success.
At Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto, the vendor talked up its new "referral engine" technology, which it claims will sit on all Microsoft online sites and more intuitively set up customers with partners.
Microsoft's new channel chief Gavriella Schuster (pictured) praised the new referral engine in her keynote speech this morning.
"We have reimagined the referral engine and are connecting it to all our web properties and marketing," she said. "What if I could provide you with a single place and a single way to upload your profile, your services, your solutions and your applications, and we would populate it into all our digital properties?" she said, prompting cheers from the audience.
"What if I could then give you one single management console for all those referrals to come back to, to help you focus on solely those prospects? That's what I mean when I say we have reimagined our referral engine."
She said Microsoft has "some of that" technology today but promised all of it would be available by the end of the year. Schuster stopped short of directly announcing the end of Pinpoint in her address, but in a follow-up statement, Microsoft confirmed it is going.
"We have retired Pinpoint and migrated our referral system to Partner Centre," said the statement. "Microsoft will make the transition as easy as possible, including importing partner profile information into the Partner Centre, and will continue to refer partner solutions to customers seeking technology solutions during the transition."
Microsoft's director of product management for the Microsoft Partner Network, Niamh Coleman, told CRN that the new process of connecting partners will be superior to its current offering.
"Half the time, a customer doesn't know they want a partner."
"Pinpoint may have been perceived as a destination," she said. "We are making sure that partners are discoverable from all our Microsoft properties. A customer goes to Office.com and finds a solution provider.
"Half the time, a customer doesn't know they want a partner. The referral engine in the background is popping up a list of partners with those specialisations. We made competency changes recently and simplified our programme. We want to make sure all the skills our partners possess can be surfaced by this engine so they are discoverable by their expertise.
"You should see it become more organic overall. It's our referral engine. It's less of a destination and if it's an engine, it becomes more fluid for our customers."
Elsewhere at WPC, Microsoft announced that is it doubling its investment in partner Internal Use Rights on cloud products, and said it will now co-brand with partners on their competencies, meaning the Microsoft logo will now appear on the logos outlining a partner's badges.
At the moment, the competency logo just features the tier level – for example, Gold – and the name of the competency, with the Microsoft logo nowhere in sight.
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