I recently attended a Microsoft partner conference in Rome, which brought together Microsoft thought leaders, innovators, partners, and customers from around the world to discuss the future of technology in the public sector and new ways of creating a real impact in government. While it may not be a surprise, Windows 8 dominated many of my conversations, as it was easily the most buzzed-about topic at the two-day internal Microsoft conference.
While I was there, I got to catch up with several long-time partners, including ITWorx (@ITWorxLive) and Software Innovation (@SI_Products) to learn how they are preparing for the upcoming launch of Windows 8 and what it means for their business and customers. What was their most anticipated feature of Windows 8? In a word: apps.
It’s all about apps
As Ahmed Shanab, general manager for the government industry at ITWorx put it, “What we’re currently seeing in the market is that mobile apps are becoming more and more required by our public sector customers.” Shanab sees the move to Windows 8 as a natural progression for the IT services company, and notes that the ability to extend its solutions via the Windows 8 apps marketplace to a variety of mobile devices, including Surface, represents a big boost for the company’s capabilities and the value that it offers government customers.
From my conversations at the partner conference, Shanab’s sentiment was shared by many of our other partners. The ability to meet the public sector’s growing demand for apps and a mobile-supported IT experience is clearly seen as a big advantage by our partners as they work to not only extend existing solutions to support a multitude of mobile devices through apps for Windows 8, but also to provide government customers with a variety of new tools and solutions to deliver on their missions.
A seamless user experience, from one device to the next
Another key feature that has our partners excited about Windows 8 for government is its emphasis on providing end-users with a seamless and intuitive experience across a multitude of devices, from smartphones to tablets to desktops. “Windows 8 will provide full Office integration to our customers, supporting document production and integration with Lync, meaning that, with Windows 8, our customers can do the exact same operation on a slate or a mobile phone as they can do on their PC—that’s a major game changer,” said Anders Melbye, director of international operations at Software Innovation, an enterprise content management company.
Consumer friendly IT—meet government
On the topic of public sector demand for more intuitive and consumer-oriented IT solutions, Melbye added, “In the enterprise space, having a more engaging end-user experience is a critical buying criteria today. Before, it was a ‘nice to have.’ Now it is crucial to engage users in the same way that they are being engaged with their consumer apps. From that perspective, Windows 8 is extremely important for us.”
Melbye’s comment points to the consumerisation of IT that is happening in government – a trend that we frequently discuss on our blog. As this trend continues to make in-roads in government, being able to support a great end-user experience on any device to accommodate employee work styles, as well as being able to deliver services that meet the ever-growing expectations of citizens will become even more critical for our partners. And, we’re delighted that our partners see the strategic potential of Windows 8 to stay ahead of this curve. In all, the partner conference was a big success, and I’m more excited than ever for the debut of Windows 8. I look forward to sharing more after the launch.