I was first thrust into the world of Microsoft Conferences when my partner Johnny Chung and I started at Antares Solutions. Johnny preferred to be computer facing and not attend events, so it was me who became the people-facing, conference-attending part of the duo. And I haven’t looked back since.
Going from domestic to global
In 2008 I went to my first Australian Partner Conference (APC) and quickly came to realise the phenomenal value of being involved. It was at APC where I heard about the value of stepping out of Australia and attending Microsoft Inspire (or WPC as it was then known.) Microsoft partners convinced me that it was a bigger and better version of APC and I knew I wanted to be involved.
Three years ago I attended my first global Microsoft Inspire, a huge eye opener from the sheer scale of the partner network, and I immediately came to see the enormous significance of being there. The sessions were amazing but the real value was found in the relationships and the network of people we got to meet.
Meeting so many partners and really connecting with them lead to real and meaningful relationships but it allowed us to benchmark ourselves; we were able to ascertain whether we were keeping up with what we should be at a technology and partnership level and it gave us the ability to plan exactly what we needed to improve and where we needed to focus.
Getting in front of the Microsoft team
While it’s fantastic to meet and develop relationships with other partners, getting in front of the executive team at Microsoft wouldn’t have been possible if we weren’t at Microsoft Inspire . Being part of the event you get to ask the questions you’ve always wanted answered, you get a chance to talk through and validate your approach and see the things you could be doing better. There are some exceptionally smart people at Microsoft and as a small business being able to get face time with that level of talent and knowledge is invaluable.
Microsoft is a large organisation with lots of moving parts that is sometimes very difficult to navigate; without events like Microsoft Inspire we would probably be a lot more clueless about how to navigate that. Attending Microsoft Inspire has allowed us to gain an understanding of who is who, what people are doing, what their priorities are and where their focus is.
Creating new partnerships
One of the important lessons Microsoft taught us was to make sure we partner with the right people for our business and not try do everything ourselves. Attending Microsoft Inspire presented us with an opportunity to talk to other partners and get a feel for kind of people who we could work with. The friendship, trust and transparency we developed with other partners during our time at Microsoft Inspire helped us recognise people we were truly aligned with both culturally and in terms of providing the best end-to-end solution for our customers.
It was after this that we formed an alliance of Microsoft partners (with Modality Systems and Quorum) called Cloud Collective . We don’t have any crossover of services so we don’t compete in any way but the ability for us to work together and provide an end-to-end solution is proving to be of immense value to us as a business as well as to our customers who are on the receiving end of a perfectly seamless end-to-end solution. A lot of credit goes to Inspire for allowing us to find these partners in an environment outside of our comfort zone that really tested our ability to work (and play) together.
Putting all the information building and relationship forming components of Microsoft Inspire aside, there is one aspect of the conference where I feel I’m not just growing my business, but I’m actively contributing to my own personal development and that’s through listening to the speakers.
Some of the presentations I’ve been fortunate enough to attend are transforming, and it’s not just about the content of the presentations – but the immaculate presentation of knowledge delivered impeccably. It is spellbinding to watch the way the speakers present and the way they engage with people; it’s a real personal education.
This flawless delivery highlights the fact that if you want to be good at something you don’t wing it - you know it, you are prepared for it. I watch these speakers at the top of their game and become aware of the hard work they’ve endured to get there. It teaches me that a small change in some of my habits can improve the way I do things; it highlights the truth that with hard work and patience you can do almost anything.
I have never been more excited about the opportunities that are coming out of Microsoft and I cannot wait to hear more, learn more and interact more at Microsoft Inspire 2018.
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ATTENTION GOLD CLOUD COMPETENCY PARTNERS
By attaining Gold status in a cloud competency, you’ve shown your commitment to providing your customers with the best solutions built on Microsoft cloud technology. We’d like to thank you for your achievements by extending to you the discounted price of USD1,995 for a Microsoft Inspire All Access pass when you register before March 31, 2018. This is a savings of USD300 off the current price, only for partners with a gold cloud competency like you. If you have not received your Gold Cloud Competency discount code via email, drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org