What is the World Partner Conference?
Having returned recently from the Microsoft World Partner Conference (WPC), I have been really taken back by just how much Microsoft invest in this mammoth gathering and just how much I managed to get out of it!
So just how do you get around the Air Canada Convention Centre, all the key sessions and most of downtown Toronto in 5 days? Simple, this time – we split into teams! Some of us focused on the sales and marketing side of the business, whilst others looked more specifically at the innovation and technical aspects of the event. This allowed us to compare and contrast each day when we re-grouped and more importantly fill in any gaps we had!
WPC really is a chance for all Microsoft Partners to attend a hosted event, facilitated and run by Microsoft, chosen partners, suppliers and venue organisers. Traditionally an opportunity for Partners to network, learn about Microsoft’s roadmap and vision for products/offerings over the coming financial year.
Why do partners go?
Other than the opportunity to be out of the office in locations such as LA, Washington, Texas, Toronto, it’s chance for partners to align and equip themselves for the year ahead. With all the latest and greatest on display, it is a combination of breakout sessions, keynotes, small informal meetings, networking sessions, demonstrations and one jolly large expo!
All events are split across Partner type and sometimes regional location which really helps focus your time, effort and where you should be. As a Systems Integrator (SI) it’s great for us to see what our competitors are doing within our space and how other partners are presenting themselves. This open and transparent nature is an extremely clever way in which Microsoft get partners to stop focusing on themselves and instead focus on working together for the biggest vendor there – Microsoft.
Trends & Technologies
The focus for Microsoft over the next year will very much be ‘the Cloud’ and all of its new product offerings. In particular we will see an increase in more solutions moving to the cloud onto solutions like Azure, Office 365 and CRM Online.
This is an extremely exciting time for us, as the continued investment in Sharepoint is very evident and the integration within the Office 365 suite means that we can leverage our wealth of experience and help transition our clients into the cloud space.
The billions of dollars spent on R&D by Microsoft was very apparent, as they now have an increased awareness of User Experience and Devices. With the imminent release of Windows 8 and all associated software, such as the 2012 versions of SQL & Windows Server, we find ourselves in an exciting time where partners can have an increased confidence in our deployments, allowing us to focus on what we do best – adding the service value on top of the product purchase from Microsoft.
During the key note it was clear to see some of the more recent investments made across Kinect technology and touch screen applications, as an 80inch interactive LCD display (not yet available at a decent cost – currently 80k! – they are working on it!) was demonstrated using OneNote.
Finally we see a huge game changer coming in the way of the new Win 8 Mobile, which will provide a seamless operating system experience between devices. Its new user interface clearly shows that Microsoft have sat up and listened to their competition and users, but most importantly done something about it.
For us it’s a great chance to not only meet new potential partners but also an opportunity to solidify existing partnerships. We have forged ahead with great working partnerships and those that really stand out for us in particular include the work that we are doing with AvePoint and SoftwareOne. Both partnerships for us complement what we do and help add a tremendous amount of value to our customers.
WPC really is the one stop shop for getting to grips with all things Microsoft and feeling very lucky to be part of the mammoth machine. Year on year we have attended WPC but never before have we managed to feel as enlightened, educated and enriched with all things Microsoft.
There certainly seems to be exciting times ahead and we are buoyant about the growth potential in both the business and consumer space for Microsoft products in FY2012-2013. In short the more people that use these products, the more value we can add to help users benefit from better business productivity and collaboration – no longer a dream, but a reality!