Every year, without fail, July brings fireworks, my annual fishing trip to Canada, and – of course – Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference. After a great 2014 event in Washington, D.C., Microsoft decided to take this year’s event to Orlando – the happiest place on Earth, so I am told. I have to admit, when I heard Orlando, my initial thought was “Orlando in July?” but I must say, it turned out to be a great location for the event. For those of you that weren’t able to attend I’ll provide you some Orlando sunshine and WPC highlights. For those of you that were able to attend, here’s a recap if you skipped a day and enjoyed the pool!
For those of you that have never attended WPC, WPC can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming and un-focused. It is, after all, Microsoft’s second largest event, bringing together 15,000 people from Microsoft’s entire partner ecosystem, not just Dynamics. This year was no different, and there was so much information to take in – sort of like drinking from a fire hose. That can be both exciting and daunting at the same time. It can easily lead to the generation of many ideas, and, if not careful, the loss of focus. Luckily, CRM Vertex is laser focused on building quality add-on products for Microsoft Dynamics to help drive better engagement.
Ready to drink from the fire hose? Here’s a day-by-day play.
Monday & Tuesday
The event began with an exciting opening keynote in the morning, highlighted by Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella. He was a delight to hear speak, and continues to drive his message about the mobile-first, cloud-first world. Being a company who builds a cloud-based product that allows mobile engagement, that sounds great to me. Microsoft took advantage of the captive audience to showcase a few really compelling new technologies that look amazing – Gigjam and Hololens leading that group. The Windows 10 demo was truly enjoyable and the product is looking good. The demo was performed by Microsoft’s Executive Demo Lead, Bryan Roper, who has a pretty cool story. If you’re interested in piano bar music you’ll want to enjoy this quick read.
Though Dynamics was mostly ignored in the keynote I left looking forward to the rest of the event including the sessions and expo hall.
The rest of Monday and Tuesday was devoted to sessions and the expo hall. There were Dynamics focused sessions each day, where I found content that certainly made it worthwhile to attend.
Wednesday started with a closing keynote where we heard about the evolving partner ecosystem from many different Microsoft executives. Much of this was similar to the last several years – focused heavily on partners adding IP and other annuity-based revenue streams. It also was heavily focused on adding cloud-services for many of the partners. Again, these are the things Microsoft is really focused on, so this messaging was not a surprise. One thing that stuck out to me in the closing keynote was a comment made by one of the Executives that Dynamics is shifting to the center of the Microsoft ecosystem. This was an exciting message as a Dynamics ISV, so we will see where that goes.
The closing keynote was ended with a rock-and-roll, WWE super-star, Steve Ballmeresque entrance by Kevin Turner, the COO for Microsoft. Sans honey, that’s really only a Ballmer thing. While the entrance was completely over-the-top, Kevin’s message was strong, echoing the comments of Satya earlier in the week, but giving even more detail. He was very clear in his messaging that Microsoft has the best cloud services, the best products, and the best partner channel. He also mentioned that they’re excited about the competition, and the fact that “Microsoft is back”. He received some strong applause when explaining his thoughts on recent partnerships with historically Microsoft-haters such as Salesforce.com and Oracle. He was very clear that Microsoft is still committed to winning in the competition, but feels the need to have these strategic partnerships to continue to build the best cloud platform in the world.
All in all, while Dynamics is not a strong focus of WPC, there was great value in the event for our business and me this year. I was able to learn a few things, grab some fun SWAG, meet with many of our partners and have really great conversations that will help to move our business forward. Add the two days of Disney World at the end of the conference with my family and what more could you ask for from a conference?
Next year’s event is planned to be in Toronto – if they let me back into Canada after that July fishing trip I mentioned, I will for sure do my best to be there!
Again, it was great engaging with new and current partners! If you aren’t yet a Partner of CRM Vertex we invite you to join us. Learn more about our Partner program here.