Whether you’re shopping for a consumer product on your own time or evaluating a potential IT partner for your organization, you depend on reviews, professional assessments, and certifications to help you make the right choice. In the tech world, it’s common to see an array of “certifications” or an “authorized reseller” symbol next to any given brand name. But in many industries, it’s difficult to separate the meaningful certifications from the less impressive ones. Sometimes, all a vendor needs to do is pay a fee in order to get “certified.”
This “badge of achievement” uncertainty leads many organizations to gloss over what could potentially tell you something very important about a company. When it comes to selecting a partner to help you implement vital technology solutions for your business, it’s important to pause and take stock of the vendor you’re considering. Do they really have the skills and qualifications necessary to help your business succeed?
While there are indeed a lot of meaningless certifications out there, Microsoft offers three reliable certifications—formally called “Competencies”—that can tell you a lot about the partner you’re considering. The Microsoft Partner, Silver Partner, and Gold Partner designations indicate varying levels of competency, and they can help you make the best decision when it comes to choosing a tech partner.
Here at AKA Enterprise Solutions, we feel that it is of utmost importance to consider the Competencies a Microsoft Partner has—especially a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, when you are searching for a Partner to implement and support your company’s Microsoft solution. Our certifications have changed over the years, but our commitment to quality and the highest level of competency hasn’t. But what exactly do these Competencies mean, and is it really worth it to “go for the gold” with a Microsoft Gold Partner? We believe it is. Below, we’ll look at what the various certifications indicate, as well as why you should choose a Microsoft Gold Partner for your business’ technology needs.
Microsoft refers to its certifications as “Competencies” which demonstrate “a specific, proven skill set. Because Microsoft competencies are aligned with how customers buy, customers can easily identify a company’s capabilities and expertise” simply by reviewing its Competencies.
As of now, Microsoft has 19 different Competencies. A Microsoft Partner can be just a partner, or they can achieve either a Silver or Gold designation for each of the Competencies.
Silver Competency indicates that a partner has made a special commitment to a particular business solution and that the partner undergoes a very thorough process for their certification. Those with Silver Competency are amongst the top 5% of Microsoft Partners worldwide.
Gold Competency goes beyond the Silver level, representing the highest certification available for Microsoft Partners. A Partner with Gold Competency has a specialized skill set when it comes to implementing a particular tech solution or providing clients with service in a specific area. Only the top 1% of Microsoft Partners worldwide are Gold Certified.
A Microsoft Partner with Silver or Gold Competency must undergo regular audits to demonstrate their proficiency, skill set and experience. While a Microsoft Silver Certified Partner can be a good choice, the difference between Silver and Gold is significant -- and AKA always goes for the gold. Keep reading for the 5 reasons why we believe you should choose a Gold Certified Partner.
Microsoft’s solutions are always evolving, and so are the competency requirements associated with them. Gold Partners stay on top of these changes. Consider this: would you choose a heart surgeon who hasn’t engaged in any training for the latest advances in surgical techniques over the past two decades? If you had the option, you’d likely choose a doctor with more up to date training and certifications. In the same way, it makes sense to choose a Microsoft Partner who knows how to leverage the latest Microsoft technology to help your business succeed.
Microsoft Gold Certification indicates that a Partner meets rigorous standards set by Microsoft -- and meeting these standards is increasingly difficult. To be more specific, Microsoft requires that at least 15 individuals within an organization pass various core value exams before that organization can receive Gold Certification. Plus, five of those 15 have to pass additional specialty exams. This process is repeated annually—nobody gets “grandfathered” in!
What does this mean for your business? For one thing, you can be sure that a Gold Certified Partner knows what they’re doing. Additionally, it’s not just one or two people at the partner organization who are familiar with the latest Microsoft tech: a Gold Partner will have a number of highly qualified staff members on hand who can help you. This means that internal turnover at an organization won’t cause problems for a particular project or engagement.
Remember: there’s a difference between an organization having a large staff and maintaining a sizeable Microsoft Certified team. If the Partner you choose is a Gold Partner, they will have a “deep bench” of deeply qualified team members.
Microsoft Gold Partners are experts when it comes to specific skill sets, which means they rarely need to consult with Microsoft for assistance. But when they do need to open a support case with Microsoft, Gold Partners have direct access to advanced support partners within Microsoft Business Solutions. The result? Faster response times and top-notch support. Plus, Gold Partners have the ability to escalate a case when needed.
Because Microsoft Gold Partners have access to various product licenses, they’re able to develop demos that offer clients proof of concept. This means that a Gold Partner has the ability to offer a client a test drive before going all-in on a solution.
A Partner with multiple Competencies even has the ability to engage in several days of consulting with a client -- similar to developing a pilot program -- with funding from Microsoft. If you’re ready to move forward with a solution but need to see proof of concept before making the financial commitment, this can be extremely helpful.
Happy employees mean less turnover -- and that leads to happier customers. Employees in the tech sector need ongoing professional development to keep up with the latest industry advancements, and that’s precisely what we offer our employees at AKA as a Gold Certified Partner. There’s also a level of commitment that comes with working for a Gold Partner that you simply won’t find elsewhere, and that employee commitment is beneficial for your organization.
AKA Enterprise Solutions is a Gold Certified Partner in five different areas as of 2019, including the following:
Why is AKA a Gold Partner? The answer is simple: we want to offer our customers the best. Silver Certification is significant, of course -- but we believe that our customers deserve to work with a Microsoft Partner who has achieved the highest level of training and certification, and who maintains a close relationship with Microsoft.
At AKA, we proudly invest in our experts. Gold Certification can be costly, which is why AKA pays for the learning materials our consultants need in order to prepare for their certification exams. We also offer our employees bonuses to demonstrate our appreciation for the time they invest in preparing for these exams. Achieving Gold-level competency isn’t easy, and we believe our employees deserve acknowledgement for this achievement.
In the Olympics, you don’t go for silver: you go for gold. When choosing a Microsoft Partner, you should do the same. A Gold Certified Partner with the appropriate competencies will offer your organization the best when it comes to overall knowledge, experience, and support. Check out this video to see why our customers are happy they went for gold and chose AKA:
ABOUT AKA ENTERPRISE SOLUTIONS AKA specializes in making it easier to do business, simplifying processes and reducing risks. With agility, expertise, and original industry solutions, we embrace projects other technology firms avoid—regardless of their complexity. As a true strategic partner, we help organizations slay the dragons that are keeping them from innovating their way to greatness. Call us at 212-502-3900!
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