Back to Europe after a busy week, still jetlagged from the time difference with Toronto, we’re excited by all the WPC 2016 takeaways and ideas we came up with owing to the event!

The biggest Microsoft Partner event of the year is not big, it’s huge. It’s a big deal for partners to open up new opportunities and so it’s significant for us as well. Meeting partners face-to-face, talking with them, getting their insights and being able to make new connections -all in one place- is absolutely priceless. This was our 4th year in a row and we weren’t disappointed, as usual. Hats off to the organizers and all the partners who are responsible for delivering such a great experience!

“Microsoft got cool again”

The first impression we got from the conference is that there’s a huge hype about Microsoft. As Facebook CIO, Tim Campos said, “Microsoft got cool again”. From what we saw from the buzz, the level of the announcements and number of partners interacting with each other, it’s in fact true.

KEY WPC 2016 TAKEAWAYS FOR PARTNERS

It was a busy four-day conference for everyone. Surely each partner has learned something useful at the event. And so did we! We’d like to share with you the key insights from the event that we find are the most relevant for partners who looking into having a prolific business year.

MICROSOFT ADDS CHANNEL PARTNER INITIATIVES

Microsoft keeps improving their technologies and solutions, adding new features, capabilities, and apps that drive new business opportunities for partners through innovative cloud technology offerings. They also discovered more branding, referral, and marketing efforts with the objective of driving partner business. To keep up with that pace, partners will need to leverage the available options to meet the new customer needs. These are the upcoming rollouts for partners:

  • Competency logo builder: Making it easier for potential customers to identify best partners and communicate endorsement from
  • Updated partner branding: Updating competency badges to unify how partners show up with customers and simplified application certification process.
  • Investment in free software, cloud services, and platforms: More access to free software and services via Internal Use Rights (IUR).
  • Enhancements for Cloud Service Provider (CSP) partners: A new referral engine and a Partner Center Software Development Kit (SDK).
  • The Microsoft Professional Degree (MPD) course: a platform plus ready-made content and tools for you to establish a profit-generating Learning as a Service business.

Here you can find the new resources announced by Microsoft.

We’re doubling our investment in free software, cloud services, and platforms for our partners over the next year, giving you the tools needed to build innovative solutions on top of Microsoft technologies. When partners use IURs, their deals are approximately three times larger.

Gavriella Schuster, Corporate VP, Worldwide Partner Group

THE QUESTION IS NOT ANYMORE WHY, BUT HOW PARTNERS CAN DO IT

Every year you notice that partners’ interests are leaning towards a certain direction. This year, many of our conversations were about what are the long-term opportunities for partners in the cloud and how to get there. Partners dedicate a lot of time and effort trying to move away from being reactive to changes. They want to understand what Microsoft channel programs and initiatives mean to them and what the partner ecosystem, particularly ISVs, have to offer.

“Not only must you change, but you can change. There is a past and there’s going to be a future. And the future is going to be derived on who digitizes the fastest”

– Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IS A REALITY, NOT JUST A BUZZWORD

The opportunity around digital transformation is happening! Any company can embrace the shift to Microsoft’s cloud and do it in a flexible and scalable way. On WPC 2016 we were able to see some examples of digital transformation from General Electric (GE), Japan Airlines or Ecolab. Digital transformation is no longer an option, and as the GE chairman said if GE changed, so can you.

THE ISVS AND SIS MOMENTUM

Clients don’t just want development; they want a business solution. However, partners can’t provide everything to every customer, so they’re looking for winning relationships within the channel to complement what they do best. In order to provide higher value solutions, there’s an increasing number of ISVs working with SIs. There’s a lot they can learn from each other with this symbiosis. ISVs have the innovation, while SIs have the content. When partnering up with well-aligned SIs whose business model is based on the cloud, they’re able to offer end-to-end solutions and customers can maximize the value of their investment.

FIND OUT HOW

AZURE WAS A HOT TOPIC

From Satya Nadella’s opening talk to various discussions with channel partners, the Azure theme was everywhere. There’s an increasing interest from customers, who see in the hybrid IT offerings for Azure a solution that allows them to adopt the cloud at their own pace. On the other hand, Microsoft and partners are putting more emphasis on moving clients forward by incrementing the consumption of Azure.

Another message from this WPC edition was about the growing role that Azure is playing among Microsoft enterprise applications. You can read more about the direction the platform is taking on this blog post.

A NEWS END-TO-END PARTNER THROUGH CSPS

The partners’ future is to own the cloud journey for their customers end-to-end through the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. To help support 17 thousand+ partners selling through CSP, Microsoft now offers a click-to-deploy webstore to reduce time-to-market for partners, integrated with Partner Center SDK, and a new referral engine.