Please introduce yourselves
: My name is Marco Gateño, CEO of Comtel. We are an integrator of enterprise networks – mostly around solutions on collaboration, user mobility, contact centers, and infrastructure. We are 30 years old, and we cover most of the Central American countries. In the Microsoft space we concentrate on Lync, Exchange, and SharePoint mostly. We have been Microsoft Partners for about 10 years now, and certified partners for about five.
And Mirielle, you are Manager of Presales Engineering?
: That’s right. I also manage the relationship with Microsoft regarding training and certification. So I tend to follow up on that very closely – how many people need certifying – so that we are prepared for competency requirements.
To complement what Marco said, at the beginning we started with Lync and Exchange – those solutions on-premises. We’ve also included cloud solutions into our portfolio. So we handle on-premises and cloud implementations.
When and why do you use partner training?
Mirielle: The main use for training is when we need updates on products.
A specific example – when there was a change in the Forefront family to a new solution called Exchange Online Protection. The product migration was coming, and we needed to find information that could help our customers, so we used training regarding that change and the way the solution was being offered.
Also, we use training for everything that has to do with internal updates on being a partner with Microsoft, such as when there are changes to the certifications and competencies.
How do you find out about partner-training resources or courses?
: I follow MPN on Twitter and Facebook, and when there are announcements on new training or information, we access it that way. Also when there is something in particular we are looking for, we do a search through MPN to find training for that vertical or solution.
We also find a lot of useful information on Microsoft Virtual Academy. The online training courses and videos are very helpful for us.
Do you primarily have people train online, or do you also use local resources?
Mirielle: It is not very common to have trainings here, so we try to use online trainings when available. When we find a training in the region, we try to travel to that country.
: We also have been participating in Worldwide Partner Conference for six or seven years. But even the people on the team who are not able to attend physically still make it a point to go through virtual WPC [DigitalWPC.com
] and select presentations to be able to participate. We always have a group of people who connect on the live stream, listening to some of the presentations.
Regarding the Presales Technical Specialist program, what benefits have you seen for being accredited?
Mirielle: Last year we learned there was a promotion to take the Presales Technical courses and exams for Amazon gift cards – so that’s how we found the program. It worked! Although we didn’t win, it gave us the idea to enter and check the trainings and sit the exams. Everybody got into competing, everybody got into taking the training, getting the exams done. When we took the training, we found some important updates on solutions we hadn’t previously looked at. We found out about tools for demoing solutions, and for lab purposes. And we found out about updates on products. That helped us in the day-to-day tasks – to better help our customers understand all the things the solution can offer.
What is your company’s next learning goal?
Mirielle: We already are a cloud partner. We need to reinforce our knowledge of cloud continuously – because there are always new things we can offer. That’s not a next goal, but a normal goal we always have. Also, as Marco mentioned, we are complementing our Lync and Exchange and SharePoint knowledge with some other solutions such as CRM.
Marco: I think we also haven’t really taken advantage of marketing resources. One of the things we look to do is enhance our ability to leverage some of the marketing resources.