When I first kicked off this Exchange partner blog, about five months ago, I opened with a seemly innocent comment about how there were “only 159 days until WPC11.”
Not surprising, those 5+ months just flew by, and before we realized it, we were all in L.A. for a week chock full of keynotes, sessions, connections and cocktails.
Without a doubt WPC11 was a blast. However, I must admit that this year’s WPC took me a few extra days to recover from compared to years past.
“Why?” you may ask.
Put simply: this was one heck of WPC for me and my Exchange partner marketing team.
Before I outline my top reasons why I feel WPC11 was a massive success for the #ExchangePartner community, I want to take a moment to say
Thanks to each and everyone of you who made the significant investment in time and money to journey to southern California to spend an entire week (mostly) away from your businesses to connect with Microsoft and each other. And, thank you for your active participation in just about every single facet of the conference. We fully recognize how physically and mentally taxing one of these events can be, but when you have as much stuff as we wanted to share and the strong desire to help partners establish meaningful connections with each other and us at corporate, it is tough to slim it all down to fit neatly in a five day package.
Again, thank you!
Now, on to my “Top Five” list of why I felt WPC11 was a success for you, our Exchange partners:
- I have no more businesses cards: May seem trivial, especially in today’s massively digital age, but I travelled to L.A. with a full box of business cards (+/- 250 in quantity) and left with none. Each year, I use this to measure one of my personal objectives for WPC, i.e., meeting and getting to know a little bit more about as many partners as I possibly can. Returning with only your business cards and none of mine makes me feel I nailed that commitment. And, for those of you with whom I spoke with and have a card of mine, do not hesitate to reach out and let me know how I can help. You can also connect with me via LinkedIn (if that whole business card thing is so 1990s for you).
- The Kogi Truck served over 1,000 partners in less than 2 hours: We sold out the Kogi Truck. That’s right! The line was enormous and there were a lot of happy partners who walked away with some amazingly tasty (and world-famous) Korean-Mexican fusion tacos. More importantly, we had a chance to remind you about the killer “Better Together” story around Exchange, Lync and SharePoint (who happened to be the sponsors of this mid-day snack on that busy Monday of WPC week).
And, an added treat to this added treat was the fact our good friend Dux Sy (of @meetdux and SharePoint partner Innovative-e fame) conducted a live streaming webcast--from the plaza between the LACC and Staples Center where we parked the Kogi crew--featuring partners from around the world sharing their thoughts about the keynotes (and the tacos!) that morning. NOTE: if you fast forward to about 5 minutes in, you get to see yours truly make a quick cameo.
- There is no doubt that partners are “Going Big with Lync”: Might seem strange for me as the Exchange partner guy to mention how awesomely present (and BIG) Lync was at WPC11 as a measurement of success for the Exchange partner community at the conference. Well, I don’t think it strange at all, because Lync (beside being one killer unified communications solution) is a great growth opportunity for Exchange partners.
Not only is the Lync experience bettered when Exchange 2010 and Office 2010 is in place, Exchange partners can help Lync customers by implementing advanced workloads like voicemail with Unified Messaging to fully round out an enterprise voice deployment. Oh, and if you’re not a Lync partner today, I would encourage you to investigate the new Communications competency which will arm you with the basics around how to add IM and presence to your portfolio of Exchange services offerings. Just don’t forget to be investing in the new Messaging competency for Exchange at the same time!
Net/net: The huge momentum behind Lync means that you have a fantastic opportunity to up-level these conversations to a “Future of Productivity” discussion, which means you get to land gems like the 301% risk-adjusted ROI with a breakeven point (payback period) of 7.4 months after deployment of the Microsoft productivity platform (which happens to include Exchange 2010). We are extremely bullish that you will win customers over the competition every time when you tell the whole “FOP” (as we ‘softies like to call the “Future of Productivity”) stack story and your customers will thank you.
- Office 365: Need I say more? I really hope you had a chance to catch the blockbuster Office 365 partner launch on Day 2, especially the great panel discussion featuring the business leaders of Exchange, Lync, SharePoint and Office. I might be a little biased because my boss (Julia White, Sr. Director of Exchange) was one of the panelists, but the 100s of partners in attendance got an opportunity to learn firsthand about how we think about Office 365 as a strong asset for both partners to reach new customers and to expand the money making services you provide.
And, my good friends on the Office 365 partner team gave away a car as part of the proceedings.
Talk about an opportunity to really drive the business!
- Roskill Outlined Significant Investments in the Microsoft Partner Network: Before Jon brought up Kevin Turner or sat down with Sir Richard Branson, he spent his Wednesday morning remarks summarizing a long list of investments and improvements (“multibillion-dollar” to be more specific) to MPN. Not only did he mention the evolution of the UC competency into the new Communications competency for Lync and the Messaging competency for Exchange, but he spoke to new programs and tools that are your disposal to really drive your Exchange businesses. I am most excited about the work we’re doing with the MPN portal and I have a big project this fiscal year to further enhance your experience on our Exchange portal page in MPN.
If you missed this one, I strongly encourage you to catch the on-demand replay on digitalwpc.com.
Pretty good list, right?
Well, I have two bonus reasons:
- Bonus #1: During his Tuesday morning keynote, our divisional president Kurt Delbene mentioned one of my most favorite stats: Over the past 5 years, 22 million Lotus Notes seats were migrated to Exchange. We could not do this without partners like you, and this is such a great set of wins to celebrate at WPC. But, our work is not yet done! There are millions of more seats that need to be “Exchanged” and we need your help to make sure our mutual customers have a smooth journey on the way.
- Bonus #2: Getting the chance to “work the crowd” as I tried to drum up awareness of the Kogi Truck Monday afternoon. As one would expect with any event, sometimes things get a little crazy and everyone needs to pitch in to help. I saw my chance to do just that as thousands of attendees were exiting the Staples Center and heading to the dining hall in the LACC. To make sure you guys didn’t miss out on the Kogi Truck, I grabbed one of the signs, headed into the streaming masses of partners, and screamed “You can’t build your business on an empty stomach. Instead, come try one of L.A.’s famous Kogi Tacos, brought to you by Exchange, Lync and SharePoint!!” I think this picture says it all:
Okay, that’s wrap for WPC11.
I truly hope that you found this event as valuable as we did in delivering it. And, I welcome your feedback on what we can do better, differently or even more of at WPC12.
And, don’t forget to keep the discussion going via Twitter and use the #ExchangePartner hashtag.
Again, thank you to the over 15,000 attendees from 138 countries for coming to L.A. and see you in Toronto (or, better yet, beforehand)!
Group Product Manager
Exchange Partner Marketing