Guest Blog: Paul Woods – Adopt & Embrace. My Worldwide Partner Conference Journey – 15 Days to go!

Paul WoodsHave you ever thought about attending WPC? Have you asked yourself what it would be like? Or what value you could get from it? Have you ever wanted to book, but end up struggling to justify the trip?

If you answered yes to any of those questions… I am here to help!

My name is Paul Woods and I am the founder of Adopt & Embrace. We are a start-up focused on helping Microsoft Partners and the customers unlock real business value from their investment in Office 365. Despite having only been around for 8.5 months or so… but have made the (big) decision to invest 9 days to get out of Brisbane and over to Toronto in a couple of weeks to build the foundation for our growth into FY17. In the process… I am going to share our WPC first time attendee experience with you as well.

You will get to see the highs (parties), the lows (hopefully not 24hrs in the middle seat in economy) and the transformative moments and takeaways from engaging with key Microsoft stakeholders and Partners from Australia & beyond.

To make the documentation of our first time WPC attendee experience it as rich as possible, I'll have my video camera with me too. I'll take you inside the networking events, inside the keynotes and inside the trade hall so you can see firsthand the value of the event. I will reflect at the end of each day on the experience and talk about the key takeaways. Ultimately – try to tell the story of WPC as best as I can.

So enough about what we are going to do… Let me share with you some of our WPC16 preparation.adpot and embrace

Before we go to the Worldwide Partner Conference

No matter who you talk to in the partner team at Microsoft… They all say the same thing: “you really need the plan to ensure you get the most out of WPC”. There is so much that you could do – sessions to attend, people to meet, events to participate in – and you only have a finite number of hours in the day. For example, I just logged into the WPC Connect tool and saw 514 different keynotes, breakouts and trade hall presentations we could attend. With over 15,000 attendees there is plenty (actually too much) opportunity to engage with Microsoft and the partner community.

So based off on that advice we put together a high level plan for what we are trying to get out of attending WPC in Toronto. There is one big assumption we have made with this plan though. Our ticket to the big show means that we can access all the content once we are back in Australia. Which means we can prioritise engagement over content. With that in mind our three goals are to:

  1. Connect with key stakeholders within Microsoft Australia. Specifically, those that are goaled/targeted on Office 365 active usage / adoption / consumption. We will ensure they are familiar with what personal and professional value Adopt & Embrace can deliver to them and the customers in their territory. We will do this during informal conversations using customer evidence from engagements over the past 6 months.
  2. Similarly connect with key Microsoft Partners within Australia. Specifically, those that are considering augmenting their traditional business with high value advisory services, managed services or IP focused on user adoption. We will ensure they are familiar with our channel friendly approach that enables them to resell Adopt & Embrace’s capability to unlock additional value for their customers. We will do this using customer evidence from through partner engagements over the past 6 months
  3. Finally connect with forward thinking international partners. Specifically, those that have dipped their toe in the water of delivering services around Office 365 adoption / change management / value realisation. Beyond sharing war stories, we want ensure they are familiar with our “Lean User Adoption” methodology and discuss the potential for them to leverage our ‘secret sauce’. We will do this using customer evidence from Lean User Adoption based engagements over the past 6 months

We will track our progress against those goals with a simple metric: number of meetings with tangible next steps. Ultimately if we can generate more support, more business, and open up new partnership opportunities that help us quadruple our revenue in FY17… then WPC will have been a success.

Beyond the keynotes there are a few sessions we might try to get along to that make sense for our business. Top of mind is the session by JB Wood from the TSIA “Customer outcomes: The return to profitable revenue growth”. Having read Consumption Economics and B4B I am keen to see JB present live.

Planning to get there – WPC on a shoestring budget

This is where our first attendee experience might be a little different to that of the regular attendees. I know there are plenty of Australians who are making the trip to Toronto in Business Class and staying in the good rooms at the official Australian hotel, and racking up the expense bill along the way. But it doesn’t have to be that way (yet!). At Adopt & Embrace, we are still bootstrapping our business, which means cash is oxygen. Any way that we can save a few hundred or a few thousand dollars here or there whilst getting the value we hope to unlock out of WPC makes a big difference.

What we discovered through this process is that getting to WPC doesn’t need to be an expensive exercise. A few things we did to keep the cost down:

  1. Looked for the best airfare possible a few months out. There are plenty of services out there that help you find out when there are amazing deals to North America. And we managed to jag a great one. Air Canada recently launched their 787 service from Brisbane to Vancouver – and with WPC in Toronto this year it made sense to at least check out their offering. We stumbled across a deal via New York which saved us at least $1000 per economy seat compared to what we would have paid on Virgin Australia or Qantas. The first big win of WPC – a mandatory 36 hour stopover in New York J
  2. Compared the official Australian Hotel to AirBnB. One of the tips we heard from the Partner team was that the official conference accommodation gets booked very quickly – as you would expect with 15,000 attendees from around the world, all vying for the most convenient hotel to the conference. Prices were what you would expect for a hotel when a conference is in town… about 250-300 AUD per night. Unfortunately, expensive enough to stretch the budget. Then we had a look at AirBnB. There were some great one and two bedroom apartments available, at an affordable price, in some very convenient locations. In the end I am sharing a two-bedroom apartment with another first time attendee – Stuart More from Microsoft Australia’s emerging partner of the year 2015 – Insync Technology. Doing so has cut the accommodation bill in half. The best part… the apartment has better beds, enough room to spread out, and is in a much better location. Sorry Australian hotel attendees – we are half way in between the Toronto Convention Centre and the Air Canada centre – almost in the heart of the Worldwide Partner Conference with some spectacular views of Lake Ontario and the CN Tower. #NoShuttleBusRequired. WPC win number two.

To be honest there will probably be a few disadvantages of not being at the Australian Hotel… but it is only 6 or 7 blocks away… walkable if we need to be there.

So what are we waiting for!

With a plan of attack, and (budget) travel itinerary confirmed, Adopt & Embrace is ready for its first Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.   We are really looking forward to it from both a personal development and business development point of view. I can’t wait to share the experience with you over the next few weeks. Make sure you keep an eye on the Microsoft Australia Partner Blog, the Microsoft Australia Partner Yammer network, follow me on twitter (@paulwoods) or LinkedIn, or like Adopt & Embrace facebook page to keep up to date with our first time WPC experience.



Paul W

If you're not able to join the Australian team in Toronto for WPC 2016 next week, you can still watch the Vision Keynotes that start each day of the conference and participate in the conversation about them. Here are the details:

  • livestream of the WPC 2016 Vision Keynotes from 8:40 AM to 10:45 AM US Eastern Time on July 11, 12 and 13. If you don’t have the chance to join us live, the keynotes will be posted 24 hours after they conclude.
  • The Vision Keynotes are a topic of lively conversation on Twitter using the #wpc16 hashtag. Follow along and participate in the conversation. There are many apps that can help you follow and participate. Use your app of choice, or try Tweetchat
  • Recordings of the Vision Keynotes will be available after about 24 hours .
  • During the conference, we'll share news and announcements - look for a recap post on this blog
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