I do not often attend WPC since from my early experiences many years ago I found that it was geared more towards sales people and executives. In my role as a solution specialist I find that conferences such as Ignite (formerly Lync Conference and others), InfoComm, Enterprise Connect, etc. to be more applicable to my role. That does not mean I never attend WPC but I only attend every few years. This year since WPC was in my home country I wanted to show support for Microsoft and the partner community in Canada. I was glad that I chose to attend WPC this year, as I found it to be one of the most, if not the most valuable that I have attended in the last 10 to 15 years. Talking to several of my colleagues from other partners and vendors they had similar comments.
What made WPC so valuable to me and my colleagues this year? I do not know exactly since it was not any one thing in particular, but a combination of everything that occurred over the week in July. I was fortunate enough to attend the High Touch Partners pre-day as the company I currently work for is a High Touch Partner for Skype for Business (also known as a Neptune partner). To boast a little there are currently only 317 High Touch partners globally comprised of 216 Office 365, 81 Skype for Business and 20 eDiscovery. I was very honored be among such a high calibre group. There was a lot of information shared with us at the High Touch Partner Pre-day and the majority is under NDA so cannot be shared at this time, but this was what started everything off. I will say this, Microsoft is really following through on their Cloud First strategy which has become more apparent now more than ever. Keep on eye on Microsoft sites for a lot of news coming over the next few months leading up to Microsoft Ignite this September in Atlanta. Oh and by the way, you should definitely be attending Ignite!
While at WPC I did not attend many, ok no sessions. All my time was spent in meetings either at the convention center or one of the many hotels nearby and I was busy everyday all day. To me WPC has always been about networking and this year was no different. Microsoft did a great job making sure key members of the product teams were in attendance and I would like to thank many of them for making time to meet either in a scheduled meeting or random encounter. Here is a key take away for WPC rookies, find out who from the product teams you work with will be attending and book formal or informal meetings with them. Either at the exhibit hall, lunch, dinner or one of the many evening events that are put on by Microsoft, Partners or Vendors.
The evening events this year were plentiful as always and many are running on the same night and at the same time. I would encourage people who have not attended WPC before or have not attended many, to plan strategically which events to attend and be prepared to take a cab, Uber or Lyft to attend multiple in one night. You never know who you will run into at some of these events. One event that I attended where I was one of the first to arrive, even though I arrived one hour after it started, allowed me to spend time with the CEO of the company. This compay is a major software product vendor that enhances Skype for Business capabilities. That time was invaluable and would have been nearly impossible to plan for ahead of time.
The exhibit hall was packed and here again I was able to spend time with many of the vendors we currently utilize, many we are evaluating and some we have never heard of before. Depending on your role, plan to spend between half a day and a full day going through the exhibit floor. On the Monday the floor was busier and more packed than any WPC I can remember. It was definitely a buzz with a predominant Cloud overtone.
It was really Cloud that make this WPC so valuable. Everyone and everything is now Cloud focused in some fashion. Partners are changing strategies, vendors are releasing more cloud enabled applications and in my opinion Microsoft is leading our industry in this area. Don’t believe me? Just wait and see what Microsoft does in their new fiscal year which just started July 1st.