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Each year at Microsoft’s biggest partner event, thousands of attendees from all over the world join forces to celebrate and build upon partner success. By recognizing partners selected as winners and finalists of the Partner of the Year Awards, Microsoft Inspire takes that celebration to the next level.

The Partner of the Year Awards recognize a variety of partners in categories such as Alliance, Applications, Citizenship, and Competency, among others. Award winners and finalists develop customer solutions and products that are driving the most exciting changes in the industry and making a difference in their communities. Are you one of them? Now’s your chance to apply for the awards and your opportunity to be recognized at Microsoft Inspire!

The Journey to Partner of the Year

In 2016, we received more than 2,500 nominations from 119 countries around the world, and we know that for each award winner and finalist, the journey is unique and incredibly personal. To help you prepare for the 2017 Partner of the Year Awards and Microsoft Inspire, here are a few of stories from last year’s winners and finalists.

Extend Solutions

Extend Solutions is a Mexico-based IT services partner who won the 2016 Partner of the Year award for Data Analytics. Their analytics and predictive analysis services help customers analyze past data and predict future business solutions. They were recognized last year for their work with the Mexican Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit to modernize the tax auditing process through the use of SQL Server, Azure, and Power BI.

Daniel Novelo Trujillo, CEO of Extend Solutions told us that it took three things to achieve this recognition. It took unending passion for their solution, familiarity with the needs and processes of their customer, and an in-depth understanding of the information they were analyzing, the patterns of contributing behaviors and markets as they relate to tax collection and evasion in Mexico.

“We wanted to make an impact in big institutions in our country and we spent quite a few years getting to know the business of our customers. We are passionate about the subject of tax collection in our country and providing them a solution that makes an impact.”

– Daniel Novelo Trujillo, Extend Solutions

Black Marble

Microsoft partner Black Marble won the 2016 Partner of the Year award for Developer Platform. They are a Microsoft Gold partner based out of the UK, and were recognized for their assistance in helping a customer implement a massive cultural change among its development and IT teams through updated processes in both development testing and development operations.

Black Marble’s Marketing Director and Microsoft Alliance Director, Linda Hogg, shared that winning the award has had a hugely positive impact on their business. She said that while Black Marble is a relatively small organization, their technical knowledge and skills are quite intense, so the recognition for their business solutions and expertise has helped them show their customers exactly how good they are.

“The Microsoft Partner of the Year Award is like the best qualification you can put on your CV. We are globally recognized in these categories. Out of so many thousands of partners worldwide, it’s great because there is no better endorsement of what we can do to ensure our customers get the best.”

– Linda Hogg, Black Marble

Qorus

Partner of the Year Award finalist Qorus have earned Gold competency for app development and cloud platforms. Their Azure powered-app allows users to create accurate and personalized documents for proposals, RFPs, contracts, and more. Michelle Revsbec of Qorus shared that being recognized as a finalist for the Partner of the Year award has really solidified their name in the modern marketing space and enhanced their status as a thought leader in the industry.

“Being recognized by Microsoft as a Finalist in the Partner of the Year Awards is a massive milestone. It has raised our profile and given us a springboard to launch new initiatives, relationships and opportunities that would have been out of reach otherwise. I believe it was a turning point in our overall growth strategy as a modern ISV.”

– Michelle Revsbech, Qorus

Looking Ahead to 2017

A well-crafted entry can make all the difference as it is how judges will evaluate your nomination. Gail Mercer-MacKay of Mercer-MacKay Solutions has helped numerous partners craft and submit their winning nominations over the years. She suggests these tips to make sure your nomination counts.

1. Tell an Amazing Customer Story

It takes a great story to win a Partner of the Year Award. In fact it takes the ability to completely transform the world of your customer. Gail says “that’s what partners really need to focus on, how have they transformed and basically life-altered the world of their customer. Partners are doing incredible things in terms of revolutionizing the world.” This is their chance to share those stories.

2. Do Something Extraordinary

Gail shared a story of a partner company who did good, solid app development but who were unlikely to win because there was nothing truly innovative that made them stand out in the app development world. But what they had done was donate their time to a local hospital to develop a mobile app that would enable young, disadvantaged mothers to have access to healthcare, health and housing information. As a result of this app and the increased access to critical information, the local infant mortality rate went way down. It’s that extraordinary citizenship that won them a Partner of the Year Award.

3. Focus on Current Technology

Gail says that if partners come in with a solution built on old technology, such as Windows 8 or SQL Server 2012, it’s not going to make the cut. In order to win a Partner of the Year Award, you need to make sure you are working on the cutting edge of technology.

4. Submit the Nomination in Partnership with the Customer

Lastly, Gail says partners need to be able to name and talk about their customer. The nomination needs to be done in partnership with your customer so that the community can see exactly how powerful your story is.

Be sure to use the 2017 Partner of the Year Awards resources in addition to the tips above to help craft your best entry. We look forward to seeing you at Microsoft Inspire in July to celebrate!

Do you plan to submit your nomination for the Partner of the Year Awards? How will you prepare for Microsoft Inspire in July? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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