Channel players that flew to New Orleans for Microsoft’s global partner show have praised the event, saying that it offered plenty of value for VARs that plan carefully.
Scott Haddow, chief executive of Trustmarque Solutions, said it was the first time he had attended Microsoft’s worldwide partner conference.
“I wanted to find out more about the Microsoft roadmap and about Microsoft investment and R&D, its view of what the market is going to do and how it is going to respond to that,” he said.“It was probably the best conference I have ever been to.”
Education on offer was good quality and delivered in an effective way. Networking opportunities were of value especially the chance to meet senior Microsoft executives but the conference also offered genuinely beneficial content.
Microsoft was delivering on how it aimed to produce customer satisfaction and services, and demonstrated better targeting of customer segments, according to Haddow.
Windows 7 came across as a “phenomenal, brilliant product” that would excite customers, according to Haddow. “And I am not generally easily impressed,” he added.
Haddow also applauded the partner programme changes.
“Previously, it seemed okay for us to squabble over bits of rebate,” he said. “Now, Microsoft is saying, ‘we want to back the right partners’. If you have the right mix of people and skills, you can get help.”
A return visit in 2010 is on the cards. However, VARs can only get value out of attending if they research it properly and have a clear idea of what they want from WPC and how they are going to achieve it, warned Haddow.
For Lee Perkins, broadline country manager at Computer 2000, this year was his first at WPC. He also found it of value to UK partners.
“At a show like that, the critical mass of people attending may well be from the US, but when Microsoft was getting companies up on stage for presentations, they had a really good spread,” he said. “And you do not need to be a big partner to have a big influence.”
That was especially true with the new focus on services and market segmentation. The technology sessions and strategic keynotes also met expectations.
“Microsoft showed a much greater tendency to get into and drive business development, rather than just sitting and waiting for sales to come to it,” said Perkins. “I was surprised but delighted.”
WPC aimed to show partners how they could get the benefits of new technology
across to customers and really sell it, especially in tough economic times.
customer productivity will be key.
“It is all about the way it joins up all the IM pieces, communications pieces, and the like through simple but effective tools that are going to make it easier for people to work wherever they are,” said Perkins.
Perkins added that it had been possible to meet senior executives, above and
beyond attending sessions where the likes of Steve Ballmer gave presentations.
“I met the head of SMB and distribution worldwide, Birger Steen,” he said. “I spent a lot of time with him. He was smart, open and he listened. It is a great chance to influence what is going on.”
Like Haddow, Perkins may return next year, even though he has responsibility
for about 130 other vendors, many of which also invite him to their conferences.
“I would definitely go back to WPC,” he said.
Clare Barclay, director of small to mid-market solutions and partners (SMS &P) strategy and programmes at Microsoft UK, said the aim of the six-year-old WPC is to bring all Microsoft’s top partners together and forge a path to the future.
She also attended this year’s WPC, as did 350 UK partners. It was slightly smaller than in 2008, but the range of technology enhancements including Windows 7, Office 2010, and Azure coupled with a drive to focus on customers in tougher times made 2009 more exciting.
“We are very committed to making it a good conference, because it is taking [partners] away from their businesses,” she said.
IDC recently suggested that every £1 that Microsoft makes means £12 generated in its channels, by services and solution providers especially. But it is not all about work large vendor conferences are known for their parties and the WPC was no exception.
“We had a very good Mardi Gras-themed party on the Thursday night, where the Mardi Gras would focus and the big masks get made,” said Barclay.
“The main message from these conferences for partners is that we want to make sure we continue to invest in the channel and we want partners to bet on Microsoft.”
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