Saturday, July 18, 2009

WPC Wrap

What a week it has been. The 2009 version of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference is in the books and it was another fantastic event. The WPC team did a fantastic job of executing as I didn't detect any real blips at all. OK - the power going out on Thursday during the central region awards event caused some excitement - but that is probably not in the master plan. Kudo's to the team for a job well done. I can't really imagine the details that go into planning an event like that. I can imagine the miles of walking because it seemed my meetings were from one end of that venue to another, and it is no little distance. But it was cool inside so no complaints from me. If there was an area the team could have corrected, it would have been to get the temps down to the Friday level for the early part of the week. I nearly melted on Sunday and Monday just walking the few blocks to the convention center.

There were lots of important announcements this week. MPN - the new Microsoft Partner Network - tops my list of important things to consider. Change is inevitable, and while the current MSPP program is very well done, the new one looks to take it to yet another level. They are putting Small Business where it belongs - as a real competency - and appear to be raising the bar a bit as well which is welcome. The current program has been watered down a bit too much over time, so a reset is good and should bring new value to partners. Of course the key will be the associated air cover to the marketplace so they have some clue of what MPN is all about and how they can use it to find quality partners to engage with.

The technology wave is exciting. I think this has to be the largest wave of new products ever, and there are some really exciting things on the horizon. I spent quite a bit of time with the Win7 group as part of their Ignite program. We had a customer who participated in the program down at the event with us and were able to spend time providing feedback and direction on our participation and the program overall. Win7 has me really excited - in our SMB client base - lots of folks that have postponed hardware refresh due to the economy. I hope Win7 will be just the nudge to get them to move. Office 2010 looks very cool as do a lot of other pending releases.

But the real value of WPC is not the sessions (sorry Microsoft - especially now with digital WPC where I can watch them this week from home). The real value happened in the hallways and particularly for me - in the Connect area. I had about 25 meetings this week with different partners and Microsoft folks. That is why I attend WPC. No other venue gives me the access to so many people I want to connect with. Even in the many trips I make to Redmond, it is more difficult to connect. At WPC everyone is there for the same reason - there aren't all the normal interruptions of life, and you can just get down to business. So if you attend this event in particular, but really any of the large partner events, use the time to connect. I tend to use the daytime to connect with Microsoft and the evening and meals to connect with peers. But my goal is to be spending time with people in small groups or one on one for at least 12 hours a day. I can sleep this week - sure didn't do enough of that last week.

HTG had a fantastic week at WPC. A number of our members presented, and we had our green shirts (well some of us did) on Wednesday. You know who you are if you didn't. :-) Funny the excuses I heard about why not. Var Vid was there recording things and it was just great to be in a place where there were about 20-25 fellow HTG'ers roaming the halls. Inevitably I would run into a friendly face most everywhere I went. The SBSC council dinner was another highlight as we spent the evening getting acquainted and looking forward to the future. Francois Daumard is doing a stellar job of resetting that program and has pulled together a strong advisory council to help lead that charge. HTG has 5 of those seats and will be intimately involved in helping take SBSC in the US to a new level. I was able to connect with a lot of the central region team about our needs at HTS, and with many folks about HTG. There was certainly a lot of buzz around HTG and the great things we are doing.

The ConnectWise partnership continues to grow and drive value and direction in the marketplace. Had a lot of good time with the ConnectWise team and many good discussions with members about how we can take process to the next level with our relationship. Exciting days are ahead because of our strategic alliance with them.

All said, it was an awesome week. Great food, great content, great venue and most of all great people. It just doesn't get much better than that. If you missed this year - put it on your calendar for 2010. Washington DC in July - it is worth the investment!

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