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As a first time attendee of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Orlando last week, I was interested to see how the opening keynote would set the tone for the week – here are my top five observations:

  1. UNDERSTANDING THE KEYNOTE’S IMPACT BEFORE ANYONE SPEAKS

You realize the keynote is an ‘event’ as you enter into the venue with enough people to fill an NBA arena. There is a huge ripple effect as the crowd’s size is actually a very small sampling of the scope and depth of the talent surrounding Microsoft, partners and extended technology community. Lastly, the wide mix of languages heard on the way to your seat reminds you the message to be delivered must resonate with a global audience.

With the goal of delivering a sweeping strategy vision that the sessions and meetings of WPC would support, all I could think was that Satya Nadella, Phil Sorgen, Julia White and the rest of the Microsoft team had their work cut out for them when they took center stage.

  1. SWEEPING VISION THAT INDICATES WHAT PEOPLE ARE ASKING FOR

Satya Nadella spoke to Microsoft’s recently released vision, “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” My view is that this vision is fueled by a philosophy and culture of achieving outcomes where software and hardware are facilitators to enhance our interaction with one another. As the rate and scope of change of technology continues to grow, users want enhancements to their experience over new technology.

John Case (Microsoft CVP) discussed the need to own the customer lifecycle by expanding the services offered – the heart of which is understanding what a company wants to achieve. Forrester’s whitepaper “What Do You Need From Your Digital Experience Services Partner?” details the need for competencies in strategy, design, development, implementation, analytics and marketing.   As partners, we’ve always been in the business of empowering customers with technology and the Microsoft vision represents the next evolution needed.

  1. BECOMING THE “CONNECTED CANVAS”

As the keynotes proceeded, I began to think of Microsoft as a ‘connected canvas’ that enables empowerment by blurring the hard lines between products and allowing an individual to select what they needed at a point in time and then easily take a new direction.

  • Connected: Whether through the familiar or updated components of the Windows 10 user experience, the new Surface Hub, or holographic computing of HoloLens – Microsoft offered numerous ways to encourage you to connect with the technology in a manner that worked for you (social, secure, team, etc.)
  • Canvas: The demonstrations showed that creativity was enabled when technologies could easily be brought together for a given need – allowing for choice of how and where to interact – all the while being able to quickly reset for the next task.

The new Project GigJam, while perhaps not fully perfected yet, is an indicator of this direction – it was truly the ‘connected canvas’ that could be wiped clean after bringing in multiple tools to accomplish the task at hand (See Julia White’s keynote presentation on “Reinventing Productivity and Business Processes.”)

  1. NEW DEFINITION FOR INTEGRATION

It was not lost on anyone in the audience the importance of the integration of systems, data and information to enable empowerment. Again, the GigJam demo was a perfect example of where integration ruled. Microsoft is asking its partner community to take advantage of the opportunity to evolve and build upon their technology skill set – to which partners must look at integration with a broader definition that fits the modern use cases and expand their services.

  1. WHAT WILL ENABLE THE VISION TO SUCCEED?

For the vision to succeed for both Microsoft and its partners means that we must continue to evolve how we interact with each other and our mutual customers. As demonstrated in the keynote, the excitement in the technology comes from making it feel like a personal discussion – how, with whom, and where we or our teams want to interact that ultimately improves our outcomes.

Reflecting on RBA, our adoption of our approach of strategy, design and technology around key areas of our customers’ businesses is a major step in moving toward the ability to have a ‘personal discussion’ with our customers and evolve our relationship with Microsoft. It was good to see the alignment of our forward looking goals with the messages and direction shared by Microsoft – having a common objective is critical for our partnership to deliver what our customers need to feel empowered.

 

Mark Richards – RBA VP Finance, Operations & Alliances

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