StaffCircle, a UK-based company culture and performance management software provider, recently teamed up with US technology giant Microsoft.
We spoke to StaffCircle’s founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Seemann, to find out how his firm’s partnership with Microsoft came about and the benefits it has brought.
Executive Grapevine: How did a small software firm like StaffCircle secure a deal with Microsoft?
Mark: We were invited to be on the Microsoft Start-up incubator program and through that, we were able to establish the right relationships.
Executive Grapevine: Please can you describe the nature of the partnership – how it works?
Mark: Microsoft Co-Sell program provides suitable independent software Partners like StaffCircle with the ability to be listed in Microsoft’s internal product catalogue and this effectively gives us access to any of the 40,000 Microsoft salespeople around the world as it enables them to promote and recommend StaffCircle to their customers.
Executive Grapevine: How will it help your business?
Mark: This relationship helps our Go to Market Strategy in various ways. Firstly, since StaffCircle is built natively on Microsoft Azure it means that we can connect easily with any other customer who also uses Microsoft Azure or other Microsoft products like Office 365.
Secondly, being a Microsoft Co-Sell Partner also helps with establishing relationships with any of the 64,000 Microsoft Cloud partners around the world who may want to use StaffCircle as part of a solution to their customers.
Finally, Microsoft helps us with our marketing in a variety of ways, an example of this is that we have been given a complementary exhibition stand at the two-day Microsoft Ignite roadshow in Excel, London taking place on the 16th and 17th of January.
Executive Grapevine: How will it boost and support your credibility and increase your sales conversions?
Mark: As Microsoft has strict rules around acceptance to its Co-Sell program, our software has been vetted by its architects and we run natively on Microsoft Azure which makes our product very secure and scalable giving the customer confidence in our solution. Also if we have prospects we are trying to close, we can leverage Microsoft’s existing relationship with the company to help close the deal.
Executive Grapevine: How long do you anticipate it to take before the partnership benefits you?
Mark: The Partnership is already starting to benefit us in a variety of ways, from giving customers peace of mind to showing potential investors we have a highly scalable business model. However, as with all strategic partnerships, we don’t expect to see the full benefits for at least a year as we work to build out or business relationships within this very large organisation.
Executive Grapevine: Would you recommend this type of collaboration with other niche businesses?
Mark: Yes, but potential partners need to accept that there needs to be full commitment over a long period of time to fully maximise the potential of the relationship.
Executive Grapevine: What does Microsoft get out of this partnership?
Mark: Microsoft wants to drive usage of its Azure cloud platform and StaffCircle runs natively on Microsoft Azure so every time a StaffCircle customer uses the platform, Microsoft Azure increases its usage and revenue. StaffCircle can be used by both desk and no desk employees who don’t use IT at work and so it doesn’t require them to be set up on Microsoft – or even have an email address. Because of the universal access capability of StaffCircle, Microsoft is able to indirectly service employees who don’t currently use Microsoft technology at work.
Executive Grapevine: Is the partnership for a fixed time?
Mark: There is no time limit, but the partnership is reviewed every year by both parties.
Executive Grapevine: How will its success be measured on both sides?
Mark: The metric Microsoft used is Azure consumption/usage by StaffCircle.
Executive Grapevine: How you feel about the partnership and what it means for StaffCircle?
Mark: I’m excited by our Microsoft Partnership opportunity as it can provide a route to scaling our business globally as we are convinced that many Microsoft customers would find great value in using StaffCircle – and now through this partnership, we have a viable and cost-effective way to reach them.
Executive Grapevine: What you hope it will achieve for your firm in the longer term?
Mark: We hope to take StaffCircle – The Employee Relationship Platform – to Microsoft Customers worldwide.
Executive Grapevine: What has Microsoft said about the collaboration with StaffCircle?
Warwick Hill, MD of Microsoft for Startups, Western Europe said: “StaffCircle provides an easy way for organisations to connect their workforce to structured two-way communications without requiring new hardware or software.
“StaffCircle is set to transform the way enterprises engage with their non-desk-based workers.”