Hi everyone, my name is Jay and I work for Complete I.T. as a Technical Project Co-ordinator. I got the exciting opportunity to go to Toronto, Canada last month to attend the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2016. My opportunity came at the misfortune of our Marketing Manager Jess Symondson who was due to attend but couldn’t because of a rather nasty ankle injury. Saying thanks to Jess for hurting herself so I could go to Canada didn’t seem quite right, but I was grateful for the chance to go and see what it was all about at a Microsoft WPC. My manager and Head of Technology at Complete I.T., Simon Bell, was also going so we were looking forward to having a good trip.
Welcome to the WPC 2016
I had never been to a Microsoft WPC before so this meant I was a first time attendee, which is something the Microsoft team like to identify in individuals. Being a first time attendee means that the lanyard on the badge you wear is red in colour to allow everyone to identify you. As if the sheer size and logistics of the conference wouldn’t make you feel overwhelmed, you can now be identified as a Microsoft WPC noob! As a first time attendee you can attend a ‘How to make the most of WPC’ session at the start of the conference which gives you an idea of what the conference all about, what to expect, and some ideas of how you can get the most out of the experience. Dean mentioned the WPC app that you can download on your smart phone which allows you to book sessions that run throughout the days. This is really handy and not having the app would have made finding and getting to various sessions more difficult.
On Sunday 10th July Simon and I had a walk around as the setup was being finalised to get used to where everything was. I attended the ‘How to make the most of WPC’ session which was led by WPC Experience Ambassador Dean Martin. We got the chance to hear from some Microsoft partners who gave their past experiences of WPC and how to get the best from the time. During the session we were asked to go and move to another table so we could meet and network with people we had never met before. After the session it was the end of day one and the next day would see the official start of the conference.
The three days of the WPC start with rather impressive keynotes, which is where various speakers talk about the future of Microsoft, often kicked off with some entertainment. The keynotes were held in the Air Canada centre to accommodate the 15,000 or so people that were attending. I’ll give a brief overview of the keynotes in the next sections.
Keynote – Monday 11th July
On Monday 11th July, at the first keynote, who better than the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, to get the conference off to start. One thing we noticed about Satya was his incredible ability to talk for over an hour without any teleprompter or autocue. The slides he had on his presentation were not there to prompt him and you could tell everything that he was saying comes from his pure passion for what he and Microsoft do. Satya made it clear that Microsoft’s success is largely due to its partner ecosystem and said “Microsoft has always been a partner-led company, and will always be a partner-led company.” The rest of the keynote told of Microsoft’s dedication to continue to support the growth of its partners businesses through new innovations and partnerships, which are driven by the Microsoft ambitions to reinvent productivity and business processes, build the intelligent cloud platform, and create more personal computing. Towards the end of the keynote we got to see a really cool demonstration of the Microsoft HoloLens which involved looking up close at, and interacting with a jet engine.
Keynote – Tuesday 12th July
On the Tuesday we heard from Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise Group, who spoke about Microsoft’s journey to the cloud and the innovative cloud technology offerings available. There was a lot of talk around Microsoft Power BI business analytics and Azure with a look at what Schneider Electric have done to provide reliable power sources to over 200 clinics and schools in Nigeria which was very inspiring. We also heard from Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate Vice President of Office Marketing, regarding Office 365 developments and Yusuf Medhi, Corporate Vice President of Windows & Devices, about the latest Windows 10 features like Windows Hello. Bryan Roper, Executive Demo Lead, did a great, funny, and over the top demonstration where he destroyed a Bridgestone tyre with a reciprocating saw to show how the use of Windows Ink is benefitting automotive service businesses.
Keynote – Wednesday 13th July
For the final keynote Corporate Vice President of the Worldwide Partner Group, Gavriella Schuster spoke about the investments Microsoft are making to allow partners to take advantage of the expanding cloud market. Gavriella talked about how Microsoft are helping partners to differentiate themselves and take advantage of the trusted Microsoft brand. Microsoft are updating their partner branding resources, including new competency badges. Gold partners will be able to download badges that include the Microsoft logo as an endorsement. They have also simplified the application certification process to enable more partners to get certified and take advantage of the program resources that come along with it.
That’s All Folks
So that’s the bulk of it guys. Simon and I attended many different Microsoft sessions during our time the conference and at the end of it I don’t think we could have squeezed any more information in. On Thursday 14th July the conference was wrapped up with talks for regional partners. The UK team spoke about goals and targets for the upcoming year with a particular focus on cloud services. I hope you found this blog informative, but there was a great deal more to WPC. Before I go, here is a link to the WPC 2016 on demand site which includes the full keynotes for each day which you can watch along with various other videos in the gallery. There are also resources from the sessions where you can search for a session and get hold of the PowerPoint presentation which is really cool.
Complete I.T. – Technical Project Co-ordinator