Q&A with Tobias Maier, CEO of ML!PA, 2017 Microsoft IoT Partner of the Year Awards Finalist
Becoming a winner or a finalist in the global Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards (Inspire) can gain you credibility that has the potential to double your business.
Sound a little too optimistic?
Well, that’s exactly what happened to IT consulting company ML!PA from Germany, recognized as a 2017 Partner of the Year Awards finalist in the Internet of Things category.
ML!PA was honoured for their innovative IoT solution called Smartchain, developed for the manufacturing industry, which transforms an inner component of all machines – the e-chains or “moving plastics” – into an intelligent system. With this technology, built on Microsoft Azure, machine failures can be predicted and planned for, reducing the likelihood of unexpected incidents and production downtimes, and resulting in substantial cost savings.
We talked with ML!PA’s CEO Tobias Maier about what impact the award had on his company in the last year, and were blown away by the results.
Q: We remember your IoT solution as an example of real innovation for the manufacturing sector and a great customer story. Why did you decide to apply for an award, and did you expect the overall success you achieved?
A: To be honest, when we decided to submit, we did not expect to win. We just wanted to spread the word about our solution because we felt that we had something of value that was applicable on a global scale. We asked Microsoft Germany for advice, and they confirmed that it was an interesting case and encouraged us to enter the competition. We submitted for three different categories and ended up as finalists in the IoT category, which was a massive endorsement in our network and within the Microsoft community.
Q: What was also really interesting is that even though your company is relatively small, you managed to grab Microsoft’s attention among thousands of submitted entries from around the world. A lot of Microsoft partners assume that only the big players get to win.
A: Our success story proves that that’s not the case. We’ve grown a lot since then, but we are still a small company compared to many others.
Q: Let’s talk about that growth. Even though the direct impact of the award is hard to measure, how did such a prestigious Microsoft honour affect your business?
A: It helped us a lot. After the announcement of the award, we gained instant recognition among our partners and prospects. As we all know, there is a lot of competition in the technology business, and it is not easy to persuade customers to buy your solution. However, when we told our prospects that we were recognized with a Microsoft Partner of the Year Award, it gave us instant credibility. Whomever we were speaking with were immediately convinced that we have something worth considering.
“When we told our prospects that we were recognized with a Microsoft Partner of the Year Award, it gave us instant credibility.”
– Tobias Maier, CEO, ML!PA
Q: Did that status lead to new closed deals?
A: Absolutely! Our Microsoft Partner of the Year recognition propelled our business in a new direction; we have doubled in size in 2017, hired 14 new people, and invested in new office spaces.
Q: That is fantastic – congratulations! I assume that your success has come mainly from deals that include your awarded solution.
A: Yes, we have several new customers that are implementing Smartchains. Among them is one large manufacturing client for whom we have to upgrade the solution to be able to acquire data from over 20 machines, where each is equipped with 40,000 sensors. It’s a huge deal for us that will take approximately 18 months of development.
Q: What a tremendous accomplishment. I know other partners would love to be telling the same story a year from now. What would be your top advice for Microsoft partners who are considering entering the 2018 Inspire Awards opening in a couple of weeks?
A: Number one would be: regardless of your company size and current market presence, apply when you “have something to say”. In other words, when a company knows they worked on something exceptional and new, and need their voice to be heard, Microsoft Inspire awards is one of the best ways to step into the spotlight and get the attention you deserve. Number two would be: invest your time and resources in creating an award submission that will stand out and get the attention of the judges. When you have something important to say, you need to say it in a compelling way.
At Mercer-MacKay we were delighted to contribute to ML!PA’s global recognition through the creation of their award submission. ML!PA proves that, even though the competition is fierce, you should enter the contest – especially when you know you have something exceptional to offer.
ML!PA is the very type of partner that Microsoft is looking to celebrate. Any partner with excellence and a partnership mindset firmly embedded in their core values can become a global laureate.
About the Writer
Each year Mercer-MacKay certifies a core team of freelance writers to help write partner submissions to the highest standards of excellence. Iva Vlasimsky has been a key contributor on our writing team for three years now and was the pen behind the submission for ML!PA.
Iva was supported by editing, graphic design and subject matter expert specialists who ensured that nothing was missed in the ML!PA submission.