The Microsoft Edge

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When he worked for Microsoft, Vlad Martynov helped design and implement programs for Microsoft business partners. Now a business partner himself, he sees firsthand just how well his programs fit.

So far, so good. Since leaving Microsoft in the late 1980s, Martynov has found success as CEO of Columbus IT Partner, which was honored at the recent Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Minneapolis as a Microsoft Global Partner of the Year. But before you think it was nepotistic, keep in mind that 16-year-old Columbus IT Partner is one of the oldest and most prolific Microsoft business partners in existence. It has sold more Great Plains and Microsoft business-software licenses than nearly any midmarket company. Its specialty: ERP, e-business, CRM, business-intelligence and integration solutions based on the Microsoft platform.

Based in Aarhus, Denmark, and with offices in Costa Mesa, Calif.; Chicago; Stamford, Conn.; and Frederick, Md., the company boasts more than 850 employees and serves more than 5,000 customers in more than two dozen countries. Columbus IT Partner started out in 1989 by implementing software solutions developed by Damgaard, a Danish company that was later acquired by Navision, but not before Columbus IT Partner's business grew to more than 1,000 employees. That was 2000, the year of the great Internet bubble burst. Afterward, the company began to regroup and build solutions around the Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) platform. Today, it vows to become "the ultimate market leader of international and vertical projects for midsize companies and units of larger enterprises by providing consistent consultancy services with collaboration, communication, competency, controlled processes and completion," according to its latest marketing pitch.

A lofty goal, for sure, but not out of character with Martynov, who joined the company in February following his career at Microsoft, where he served as strategic director in the channels group, working for worldwide channel head Allison Watson. At one point, the group sent Martynov around the world to get a feel for conditions inside the global channel. From the principles of these companies, he quickly learned about the traits and characteristics that defined winning partners. Those are lessons he has worked to provide to his new company.

"With a unique, global perspective, we are able to bring the best ideas from many places to help our customers," he says. "Coupled with my Microsoft experience, I think we are uniquely positioned."

That's certainly true as far as the Microsoft platform is concerned. For example, Microsoft is helping Columbus IT Partner expand its business. The software giant has tapped the solution provider's Retail Suite solution, which addresses virtually all applications a retailer needs, including the processing of point-of-sale (POS) transactions, customer analyses and inventory control, to be melded with a retail solution being developed by Microsoft's Axapta product team. Working in conjunction with Microsoft's engineers, Martynov's team will be responsible for code used by retailers the world over. The company is one of a select few to participate in Microsoft's new Industry Builder initiative for Axapta partners. The program for ISVs is designed to spur the development of industry-specific modules for MBS software.

"They are definitely part of an exclusive, core group of elite partners now," says Margo Day, vice president of U.S. channels at Microsoft.

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