Lee Wise visits the Seattle Global education summit

A review from Seattle and Microsoft’s Global Education Partner Summit

Microsoft welcomed invited Education Partners from around the Globe to Redmond (WA) on February 2nd – 5th 2015 for the annual Global Education Partner Summit.

The conference facility at the Microsoft Campus was full of the leading partners and leading staff from Microsoft global and education team, all accessible and ready to engage in superb discussions around product releases, success stories and the changing landscape within he Education sector.

The following piece is a tiny reflection of my thoughts from a stunning, if not wet Seattle. – (I won’t mention the Super Bowl, I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it!).

#1 Expect More. Achieve More. Do More.

This was the message outlined in Anthony Salcito’s superb opening presentation. Anthony started at Microsoft helping build presentations for Bill Gates and his knowledge and passion for the education space is second to none.

His reflection of the current education landscape served as evidence to me that the connected experiences through (Azure), Office 365, Power BI, Social Listening, Dynamics CRM, devices and apps will soon become the industry recognised suite of solutions that can lead Universities to be empowered to do more, and their students to achieve more.

On that note (and this is relevant to us as a Dynamics CRM Presidents Club Member) did you know according to information released between 2008 and 2013 from the USICA CIS Survey Dynamics CRM has seen a market share growth of over 500% across Universities? And we feel that figure is still an underestimation as the survey does not cover all schools / faculties within a University or all the Universities in the UK.

#2 BI – “Basic Intelligence, not Business Intelligence”

I need to tip my hat to Amir Netz (Technical Fellow at Microsoft) who delivered possibly the best demonstration and discussion I’ve ever seen, showcasing the true “power” of Power BI.

A few things really stood out:
•This was all done using a free version of the product, reinforcing the unrivalled total cost of ownership offered across the Microsoft Productivity and Business Solutions Suite.
•We are in the midst of the data revolution, and the great opportunity lies in the fact we are only at the start.
•This latest evolution of BI should really mean we come to see BI as “Basic Intelligence” not “Business Intelligence”.

Power BI is built to deliver BI for everyone, evolving from solutions that not so long ago required IT managers or data scientists to run individual queries for users which, by the time they arrived were out of date.

As a consequence BI is now powerful enough to enable users to act on the NOW! Not purely as a reflective, reporting tool.From a Universities’ point of view they can spot trends and alerts in real time, minimising student dissatisfaction, course failings and even improve retention levels.

#3 The continual investment and evolution of Dynamics CRM

If you are a University using Office 365 (beyond just Exchange Online), Microsoft Dynamics CRM should be at the top of your list as the solution for improving student recruitment, retention, and the overall experience. The integration between Dynamics CRM and the productivity suite within Office 365 is becoming tighter with every release and the addition of Social Listening, Dynamics Marketing and Parature means Universities’ have a globally supported, industry ready solution (with a multi-million dollar R&D program) that breaks silos and empowers them to achieve more right at their fingertips.

As one client of ours once said “Students see our University as ‘one’, in reality we were 7 or 8 silo departments unable to collaborate and therefore always reacting to student’s needs. With Dynamics CRM we can now finally act as one, empowering our students and the University to achieve great things.”

#4 Windows 10

Windows 10 combined with the plethora of devices showcased left a wow factor amongst those around me. The update provides one true experience across platform and store. The expansion of Cortana adds a whole new dimension for the end user.

#5 What great company!

I wanted to end on a huge thanks to all the people across the UK (especially Matt and Mark), the Global partners and the Microsoft Staff in Redmond I spoke with over the week. The conversations and knowledge share will be invaluable as I look to further cement our marketing led strategy and leading position within the Higher Education space across Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Office 365.