Touched by a Cloud – A first-timer’s experience of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2014

By Kati Bujna | August 22, 2014

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With more than 16,000 people gathered July 13-17, 2014 in Washington, D.C., the heart of America, to attend Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference, you’d think feeling like a lemming, amongst the throngs of devotees from around the world during the thick summer heat, would be a given. Here’s the kicker – my experience as a “first-timer” attending the WPC, along with my ECM Alliance team from Adlib, was infinitely the opposite.

From the moment I got off the plane at the Reagan National Airport, I had landed from one cloud and felt my ascent into another – starting at baggage claim.

From the get-go, greeted by Microsoft “blue shirts,” I was escorted to pick up my personal registration badge and Wahoo! I not only transcended the need to stand in line at the event host site, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, but with badge in hand, I was waved on board into the Microsoft stratosphere. “Hello Kati, welcome to Microsoft.”

Indeed.

Real-world business opportunities

From the hundreds of business and technical sessions to choose from, the many evening keynote galas to network at throughout the city, and the hundreds of partner and Microsoft exhibits on the vast Expo floor, innovatively crafted, and in many cases entertainingly and artfully hosted, the array of business and technical sessions to select from such as “Making Money in the Cloud”, “Corporate Story-telling – The Good, Bad & Ridiculous”, ”Top 10 Social Media Tools”, “Engaging the Distracted User”, and “Cloud Strategy Workshop”, delivered something for everyone to take part in and learn from.

Over 4 days and nights of conferencing and networking – meeting, making new business contacts and achieving business went like clock-work. Breakfasts, lunches and coffee breaks were shared with mixed, global contingencies from Russia, Germany, Asia, EMEA, Canada, and the USA.

During my experience, I met Technology Alliance Directors, Marketing Alliance teams, Presidents and VPS and MS Consultants. Whether it was hammering out a joint marketing plan in person with Jeff Shuey, Director Technology Alliances for Gimmal, or getting a jolt of “women in technology inspiration” via meeting Microsoft Canada’s President – Janet Kennedy – and hearing her talk about the realities of mixing work and family life while rolling out Microsoft’s Canadian strategy or attending the phantasmagorical and insightful key note presentations, the real-word, real-business opportunities seemed endless.

Making real connections

It all really boils down to this. By the third day of sessions and running in my flat shoes between buildings, down halls and up and down floors…I took off my shoes and curled my legs up onto an ottoman for a quiet moment of reflection. It wasn’t long before Nicole from the UK sat down beside me – and sighing – took off her shoes too. Nicole was a “WPC First-Timer” too and it wasn’t long before we were exchanging our observations and learnings of the past few days. Ultimately, we were amazed at how amazed we were.

The true value of attending Microsoft’s WPC is in the getting of a clear view and direct experience into the benefits of working with Microsoft and partners from all over the world in person. Not as one of 1,000,000, not from 50,000 feet, but surprisingly and delightfully as business individuals. Nicole operates a film industry post-production shop, our company runs a global software manufacturing company in Burlington, Ontario, Canada and the guys from Russia I met were new media ISVs.

People first

“Cloud first. Mobility first.” I would have added “People first.” to the end of this year’s business themed tagline. In 4 days’ worth of consistent, human touch points with this global behemoth I came to understand and draw this parallel, that THIS IS exactly what “moving to the Cloud” is all about. People first. Providing info truly in the ways you need. Working H2H.

To any Microsoft Business Partner considering the pros/cons of attending – I’d say “go for it”. The return is immense. To the entire global Microsoft team – wow, thank you and congratulations. Job awesomely done. I’ve been touched by your cloud and the value lives on.

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