Janet Gibbons

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Director of partner strategy and programmes, Microsoft UK

Career so far I spent 10 years at Digital Equipment Corporation before joining Microsoft just as the company launched Windows 95. At Microsoft I've been lucky enough to work in a number of roles and was actually involved in setting up Microsoft's very first partner programme in the UK.

What will next year's most overhyped industry buzzword be? Big data. There's lots of hype out there - and lots of miss-use of the term to sell loosely-related technologies. All the hype disguises some really interesting developments: it's going to be hugely influential in the long term.

Has 2012 been a good, bad or ugly year? It's been a great year! That's not to say it has been easy for anyone, but the Microsoft Partner Network has found its footing, and both our partners and us have got to grips with some exciting new technologies. Next year is going to be even better.

What would you have as your last meal? If this was my last supper in the Biblical sense, food would be the last thing on my mind! But if you're asking what I want for supper this evening, it would have to be lobster thermidor.

What keeps you awake at night? Work-wise, I'd say it's the issue of partner readiness; making sure that our partners have the right people with the right skills, and access to the right training. We've seen huge change in the industry over the last few years, and partners need to adapt to survive. We absolutely have to help them with this - we can't do what we do without partners.

What piece of technology could you not be without? This may be an obvious one, but it's got to be my phone - I'm hooked to it. It's an office in my pocket - I actually prefer to go through mail on it than on my PC!

Have any of your predictions come true this year? We've talked about cloud for many years now but back in January, I really felt we were at an inflection point and that 2012 would be the tipping point for partners both recognising and realising the benefits it could bring. The conversations we had at WPC show this has really happened. It's critical to everything our partners are doing, saying and selling, but it's choice and flexibility are key - it's cloud on their terms.

What is the best partner/customer trip you have ever been on? I'd have to say WPC. Even though it's a Microsoft event, it's truly special because it brings together our whole ecosystem of partners. It's the one occasion when the whole community comes together and is an opportunity to share updates, hear about progress, discuss the challenges the industry faces and look ahead at the opportunities coming up.

What do you see as the channel's biggest challenge in 2013? The cloud - and articulating it to customers. But get it right, and the rewards are there.

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