Microsoft Small Business Summit a Failure?

Events, Microsoft, SMB

There is a lot of public bashing about Microsoft Small Business Summit being a failure. From webcasts crashing to the poor application design all the way to the following line mentioned in the newsgroups:

"This has got to be the cheesiest setup ran by MS that I've seen and certainly would not make a small biz owner confident in going MS." – James Barrett

Ouch. Most of the fault here should go to the incompetent web developer Microsoft hired to put this thing together for them. I mean, when you're designing a nationwide campaign that will have broad appeal and require massive bandwidth do you trust your webmaster that can't figure out his way out of FrontPage/Dreamweaver or do you put it in the hands of people that run porn sites? No really, who do you think is more competent? Art school dropout or someone that needs to push thousands of simultaneous streams of Jenna Jameson without a nanosecond buffering pause? Nuff said. But lets stop bashing for a moment and consider what a success this has been for Microsoft and for small business everywhere. As someone that heavily promotes Microsoft SST presentations (TS2, Connections, Technet) I can tell you that the hardest thing to do is get a busy small business entrepreneur to take four hours away from their business in the middle of the day. It is down right impossible. Every single event I go to has roughly 400 invitations sent out to customers and potential customers — roughly 10-20 actually show up. Why? Time is money, and time from 8:00am – 5:00pm is even more money! I think that the idea of reaching these people over the web is absolutely brilliant. Really, I do. And despite engineering failures the site is pretty straight forward – watch the show, get the kit, find a local shop to help you with your small business technology. It looks good. Also keep in mind that this is the very first try by Microsoft to do something of this scale. Yes they have tons of LiveMeeting presentations every day but the attendance on those is dreadful – most of them have less than 30 people and the biggest one I've ever been on had just a touch over 100. They knew they could not pull this off in house, they just prospected their vendor poorly. We have all done that. Let's just try to be thankful that this event actually happened and that future ones are better. We are all trying to make small business aware of their need for stable managed networks and software and any effort on that part, no matter how poorly executed, is an A+ in my book.

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