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Microsoft WPC: First Conference as a Baker

Toronto | Microsoft WPCMicrosoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference kicked off Monday morning with CEO Satya Nadella delivering the keynote. Immediately after greeting the crowd Satya stated that “Microsoft has always been a partner-led company, and will always be a partner-led company.” The focus of the keynote was inspiration and these words certainly inspired the thousands of partners taking part in the conference. Satya used the rest of his time to talk about Microsoft’s three ambitions:

  • Reinvent Productivity & Business Processes
  • Build the Intelligent Cloud Platform
  • Create More Personal Computing

As my first conference as a Baker, WPC provided great insight into the Microsoft model. To follow are my thoughts on the event.

Understanding the Microsoft angle

As an Office 365 partner and reseller, reinventing productivity & business processes was the ambition that hit closest to home for me. The current goal of this area centered around removing barriers between productivity tools and business applications. We heard great things about the future of Office 365 but also learned more about Microsoft Dynamics 365, Power Apps, Power BI and Flow. To cap the talk Satya invited Steve Clayton to share a story about Ecolab's Microsoft experience. Steve walked the audience through Ecolab’s use of Flow, a workflow automation tool. He highlighted how this tool has made it easier for Ecolab to do their work and how it can help Ecolab’s customers in the long run. One of the most exciting parts of the keynote was the introduction of Skype Bot Framework. This new piece of Skype, as well as working with Cortana, helped paint the picture for conversations as a platform.

That said, the best part of the morning may not have been business related at all. It came as Satya ended his keynote by addressing the current issues facing the world, such as poverty that has stricken nations for years. He noted we can all be a part of positive change by continuing to drive technology that offers access to all. Not only must our technology be inclusive but we as organizations and people must think inclusively.

Memorable sessions

The Worldwide Partner Conference included two more keynotes, hundreds of sessions and many other small breakouts that helped advance the experience. Outside of the Metropolitan Toronto Convention Centre there were opportunities to network and even a chance to see Gwen Stefani in concert. I took full advantage of these opportunities and learned a lot from other partners along the way. With this being a worldwide conference, I was able to meet international partners and understand the differences between our businesses and even our day to day work. The sessions I attended were focused around Office 365 and best tips for salespeople. My favorite sessions were:

  • Understanding Office 365 Licensing and Availability
  • Learning from a Hostage Negotiator
  • Smart Marketing 101

Office 365 is an incredible platform and has so much to offer. That said, because of this, licensing can often involve a lot of back and forth with customers. Attending the licensing session really helped me understand what’s best for the customer and how to best help them navigate their decision.

Learning from a Hostage Negotiator was a session title that immediately drew me in and it did not disappoint. Matthias Schranner, former hostage negotiator, walked the audience through experiences he has had and how salespeople can learn from them. Hostage situations: where true negotiation comes into play. Matthias talked through the complexities of what to do in these situations and related his work to dealing with customer objections. Whether it’s what to say when facing objections or what to expect before a conversation, Matthias led a truly unique session.

Smart Marketing 101 was the final session of the week and possibly one I took the most away from. The session discussed both marketing and sales and gave great tips about blogging. Hopefully you reading this means that some of these tips worked! We heard from four great speakers and each brought new content to the session. Microsoft did a fantastic job of bringing speakers to the Worldwide Partner Conference and creating a space for professionals to connect.

Main takeaway

The overall theme conveyed throughout the weekend was digital transformation. From Satya’s keynote on Monday morning to the last session I attended on Wednesday this was the focus. Through reinventing productivity and business processes we can digitally transform how companies work and make it much easier for them to do so. The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference was a great experience and I look forward to attending again next year. I hope you enjoyed this brief overview of the event. For a more in-depth dive, with keynotes and daily video recaps, click here.

Originally published on July 22, 2016

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