Cloud-Savvy New Signature Beats Out Behemoths To Win U.S. Microsoft Partner Of Year Award

New Signature CEO Chris Hertz

New Signature, a $14 million company with 90 employees, pulled off the high-tech equivalent of David defeating Goliath by beating out solution provider behemoths for the prestigious 2014 Microsoft United States Partner of the Year award.

’We were shocked,’ said Chris Hertz, founder and CEO of 11-year-old Washington, D.C.-based New Signature, which beat out companies with several hundred million dollars in revenue and several thousand employees for the honor. ’We are only about 5 percent of the size of some of the past big-time consulting firm winners, but we have achieved the same level of recognition from Microsoft. We are humbled. This is a huge honor for every single person at our company.’

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Perficient, No. 67 on the CRN Solution Provider 500 list, won the award in 2013, while Slalom Consulting, No. 61 on the CRN SP500, won the 2010 United States Partner of the Year. New Signature, a member of Microsoft’s Cloud Accelerate and Cloud Deployment program, has yet to even make the CRN SP500, a ranking of the top solution providers in North America by revenue. New Signature competed for the award against some 20,000 Microsoft U.S. partners.

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The award in large part is recognition of just how nimble the 100 percent Microsoft-focused company has been in moving to a cloud-focused business model. In 2013, New Signature’s sales were up 25 percent to $14 million with more than 30 percent of its overall sales now associated with cloud services, said Hertz.

Powering that cloud success: a 30 percent increase in Office 365 sales, which is opening the door to higher-value solutions for customers, said Hertz. One example of that is a large Office 365 engagement that freed up precious customer IT resources to focus on a 600-seat Microsoft CRM online engagement that is paying off in sales increases for a New Signature customer, said Hertz.

’That has made this company more profitable with higher customer engagement,’ he said. ’The business is healthier and it wouldn’t have been possible if we hadn’t moved the customer to Office 365. Once you get customers to the cloud that is where the party starts. That’s when you start to drive real value.’

One of the byproducts of New Signature’s success in the cloud market is a 19 percent increase in revenue per employee, said Hertz. ’That’s huge,’ he said of the financial benefits to New Signature from its cloud offensive. ’One of the reasons we have been able to sustain higher revenue per employee is there is just an avalanche of cloud work. We never have anyone on the bench because there is so much work being driven by cloud adoption.’

Hertz sees the Microsoft honor as an affirmation of New Signature’s focus on the 3 Cs of success: commitment, competency and capability. ’This is a measure of every element of our business,’ he said.

NEXT: Key To New Signature’s Cloud Success: A Big Investment In Microsoft Certifications

One of the secrets to that success is New Signature’s huge investment in Microsoft certifications and training, said Hertz. The company, in fact, invested in more than 10,000 hours of Microsoft training in 2013 with 80 percent of the company’s employees carrying Microsoft certifications, he said. ’One hundred percent of our IT professionals have Microsoft certifications,’ said Hertz.

New Signature has attained 19 Microsoft Competencies (13 Gold and six Silver) including Gold Midmarket Solution Provider, Gold Application Development, Gold Communications, Gold CRM, Gold Management and Virtualization, and Silver Project and Portfolio Management.

’I think Microsoft was really looking to honor a company structured to achieve a lot of success in the cloud computing era,’ said Hertz. ’That is something we have worked hard to do. We see ourselves as a model for building a business that will be sustainable -- not just chasing the latest fad, but building a business that is sustainable three years, seven years and even 10 years from now.’

Jenni Flinders, Microsoft vice president for the U.S. Partner Group, said in an email that she sees New Signature as a ’great example’ of where Microsoft sees the channel going in the future. ’New Signature made a strategic bet on Microsoft a few years back to deliver amazing experiences to customers built exclusively on our cloud services,’ she said. ’They are one of the premier solution partners in the U.S.’

Hertz said he is looking forward to celebrating the U.S. partner of the year at this year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, being held July 13-17 in New Signature’s hometown. Hertz said New Signature will celebrate with a reception at the Tesla dealership next to the Washington Convention Center.

New Signature also will be honored at the Worldwide Partner Conference as a finalist for the Microsoft 2014 YouthSpark Citzenship Partner of the Year Award in recognition of its support of Year Up, Urban Alliance and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

So what does New Signature do for an encore? Hertz laughs at the question and then asserts that the company is focused firmly on continuing its annual average growth rate of 50 percent for the last decade.

One of the keys to driving continued sales growth, said Hertz, is an R&D effort aimed at bringing to market innovative new software to extend what Microsoft has built in the cloud with products such as Azure and CRM Online. ’We are investing to develop novel software that delivers value to our customers and Microsoft,’ he said.

Hertz said the award is confirmation of the impact that a small, nimble solution provider can have competing against national solution provider behemoths. ’Those are amazing companies with lots of success,’ said Hertz of the big competitors. ’There is nothing wrong with their business models. They continue to be enormously successful. But this is Microsoft saying you can be really successful as a small company. You don’t have to be a 2,000-person company to be successful in the Microsoft ecosystem. And you don’t have to be a huge company to have impact in the Microsoft ecosystem. As a small business you can make a difference and Microsoft is there to support you.’