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Microsoft 2014 Worldwide Partner Conference Preview

Big Data & AnalyticsChannel Strategy

There are only 50 days remaining before the biggest channel partner conference of the year kicks off in Washington, D.C. The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference attracts more than 15,000 channel partner companies each year. In 2012, the Toronto edition of the Worldwide Partner Conference set an attendance record at 18,000. It dropped off last year in Houston.

But things are sure to pick up as this year will feature keynote addresses from a new channel chief and a new CEO: Phil Sorgen and Satya Nadella.

CDN asked Microsoft’s worldwide channel chief Phil Sorgen if this year’s Worldwide Partner Conference will be Nadella’s coming out party. He agreed, saying that Nadella brings more excitement to the event which gets going on Sunday July, 13th and ends on Thursday, July 17th.

“Satya is a great friend to partners. This will be his first keynote as CEO. It will also be the first time for him to be in front of a broad partner ecosystem as well,” Sorgen said.

Sorgen revealed the theme for this year’s show –“Mobile first, cloud first” — a term coined by Nadella. Mobile and cloud will be anchor points throughout the week long conference that will take place at the DC Convention Center.

For Canadian channel partners, this year’s Worldwide Partner Conference also marks the return of the Impact Awards.

Jason Brommet, Microsoft Canada’s Partner Business & Development Lead executive, told CDN that the Impact Awards will take place on opening night so that the winners can enjoy the spotlight through the conference. Also the Canadian party, which has become legendary over the years, will be on the Wednesday night.

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner will be back to share his views on competitiveness in the marketplace.

Not to be outdone by Nadella, Turner and the Impact Awards, Sorgen will be there for the first time as worldwide channel chief.

“I have been to every single partner conference,” he told CDN. “I will set up the conference for everyone and I will also talk about the issues that are important to the partners such as the mega-trends (mobile, cloud, social, and big data),” he said

This year’s Worldwide Partner Conference will feature more tracks that will drill into what it means to partner with Microsoft and customers along with becoming a mobile first, cloud first kind of partner.

Sorgen added that the event will have sessions on sales and marketing that will advance a partner’s business in the cloud.

“The Microsoft Partner Network program has to be a cloud network program. Candidly, while partners compete with each other they also collaborate too. So we’ll have learning to partner tracks and other partner-to-partner connection tracks. This will be of great value to those attending the WPC,” Sorgen said.

IAMCP (International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners) Canada will again have a large presence at the Worldwide Partner Conference this year. IAMCP Canada is a networking organization focused on growing business through partner-to-partner relationships. You can find them in the Microsoft Canada Regional Lounge where they are available to assist Canadian partners in connecting with Microsoft or other partners. Renew or join on the spot and take advantage of a 50 per cent membership discount during Worldwide Partner Conference only.

Other happenings sponsored by IAMCP Canada

  • IAMCP Worldwide Partner Conference Charity Golf on Sunday, July 13 – registration required
  • IAMCP Meet-Up Monday night – join IAMCP President Peter Mackenzie and other members for drinks, conversation and fun networking
  • IAMCP WIT Lunch – with guest speaker Cheryl Cook, Dell channel chief, Wednesday – registration required
  • IAMCP WIT Panel – Wednesday following the lunch – moderated by Susie Ibbotson, VP Marketing, Navantis, the panel will include several key leaders from Microsoft
  • IAMCP Speakers from Canada in Breakout Sessions – Corinne Sharp  – “How to Build a Partner Channel” and Gail Mercer-MacKay – “Marketing on a Shoestring Budget”

Also this year’s the Worldwide Partner Conference will Also, instead of presenting one major superstar keynote speaker, this year at WPC each day will be sprinkle each day with speeches from thought leaders. On the program so far are:

  • Simon Bailey, CEO of the Brilliance Institute,
  • Dave Carroll, CEO of Big Break Enterprises,
  • Alan Fine, founder of InsideOut Development,
  • John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing,
  • Mike Michalowicz, CEO of Provendus Group,
  • Laura Schwartz, author of Eat, Drink & Succeed, and
  • David Meerman Scott of Freshspot Marketing.