I have lost count of the amount of times I have attended Microsoft’s Global Conference, but I do know that every time I attend I can count on it to deliver more than I was expecting.
Business planning is just the start
When I first attended Microsoft Inspire (or WPC as it was then known), my primary motivation was to gain an understanding of what products Microsoft would be launching, what they had in store for partners and what their plan for the year looked like. It was always our intention at KMPG to adjust the focus of our business around this plan so we could positively leverage the partnership we had with Microsoft but, once I got to the conference I realised planning was just the start, Microsoft Inspire is about much more than just business planning.
The thing that keeps you going back
It is the connections that Microsoft Inspire fosters with the people at Microsoft and the relationships you form with other partners that keeps you going back. It’s hard not to feel a sense of closeness to Microsoft when you are there, to feel really engaged and enthused by what you see and who you meet.
While planning obviously remains an important component, you realise once you are there that there is more to it than the literal and structured learning that can be gained by watching the sessions remotely. What you miss out if you don’t attend is the interaction with other Microsoft colleagues and other partner colleagues who are all facing similar issues and challenges. Microsoft Inspire provides an opportunity to group together and give Microsoft feedback and for Microsoft in turn to give feedback on business growth, adjustment and improvement. There is nothing more valuable than making face-to-face connections with thousands of innovative colleagues and partners.
Because Microsoft is so good at making sure partners are involved in decision making and planning, attending the conference means you get to participate in additional insight meetings and round tables guaranteeing your chance to make a meaningful contribution.
If you are serious about Microsoft
Microsoft Inspire provides a concentrated information dump. In four days you get a phenomenal view of what the business is going to look like for the next fiscal year, so you can align your own business plans. Vision Keynotes and sessions give you an idea about what products are going to have focus in the coming year, which function or features are in the pipeline and what is being planned with partners. This allows you to come back and do the serious planning for your own business. I would go so far as to say it’s almost compulsory to attend Microsoft Inspire if you are serious about your partnership with Microsoft.
Benefit to the whole company
At KPMG we time our company update meetings to coincide with our return from Microsoft Inspire. We come back fresh with all the information we have absorbed and share it with our whole team so that everybody is aware what the focus of the year will be; where we are going; what can we look forward to; what is coming out in terms of new updates and where are we going to focus the business.
Satya Nadella has changed the tempo of the sessions and it’s impossible to walk away from hearing the keynote speakers without feeling inspired. The focus is not on sales or pep talk, but how Microsoft and its partners are improving the world. Just by being part of that you come to realise that what you do is in some small way contributing to moving the globe forward; it cements your important role as part of this big machine that is working towards good.
If you can walk away from a conference feeling inspired, informed and important I can’t see why you wouldn’t return as many times as I have.
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