Comms-care Blog

‘Partner-led Today & Tomorrow’ – My trip to Microsoft Inspire

by Rob Darby

July 24, 2017

Boarding the plane on Sunday I was really looking forward to arriving in Washington, D.C. Not only was it my first time visiting this state but I was on my way to Microsoft Inspire, Microsoft’s annual partner conference. Previously known as WPC (World Partner Conference) this event has always been a highlight for Microsoft partners, something that was evident by the sheer popularity of the UK partner welcome drinks event, held that evening at a venue which looked out over the Capitol Building, a fantastic location to open the week’s events.

On Monday morning I made my way to the Verizon Center for the start of the conference, the first Keynote session. Luckily I had got there early and only had to queue for 30 minutes but with airport style security in place others reportedly queued for up to two hours!

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, kicked things off by announcing the location for next year’s conference – Las Vegas; the first time in the history of the event that it will have been held there. After that exciting news it was down to the business of the day.

The power of the conference quickly became clear when we were told that the 17,000 delegates represented partners from 140 different countries who in turn employed around 17 million people globally. When thinking about how this information is then disseminated to an infinite number of end users it really blows your mind – within two weeks the information to come out of Inspire could have reached over 100 million people!

The first major product announcement of the Vision Keynote was Microsoft 365, a smart and secure solution which includes Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility and Security. Listening to this digital transformation opportunity I felt reassured as Comms-care already has capabilities in this area. When the session had finished I headed over to the Convention Centre to visit the exhibition and for a few customer meetings. Monday evening concluded on a boat on the Potomac River; an Ingram Micro Cloud event hosted for UK and Dutch partners.

I decided on an energetic start to Tuesday with a four mile run at 6am taking in some of the sights -  The White House, Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. Tuesday’s Keynote focused on ‘partner-led digital transformation’, after which I returned to the exhibition centre to meet with the Surface teams for some insightful discussions around how Comms-care could evolve its Microsoft Surface service solution. Before I knew it the evening had rolled around and it was time to get smartened up for the ‘dress to impress theme of the UK partner dinner, held in a hotel near The White House.

Wednesday’s Keynote centred on GDPR and discussed the huge opportunity for partners in getting their customers to comply with the new requirements. In the afternoon I held some interesting meetings with new prospect vendors. For my final evening in Washington I attended the Global Partner celebration, for all 17,000 delegates! Hosted at Nationals Park, home to the Washington Nationals baseball team, there was entertainment from Carrie Underwood (2005 American Idol winner) with the food and drinks served from the concession stands around the stadium – a really fun way to do something like this!

My final morning concluded with the UK regional session presented by the Microsoft UK management team. After an inspirational and thought-provoking session, I headed back to the hotel to pack before arriving at the airport to see on the information boards the dreaded ‘delayed’ sign next to my flight number due to storms in the New York area.

I left the event feeling energised about the future opportunities with Microsoft and I’ll definitely be attending next year… especially as it’s the first year the event will be hosted in Las Vegas and you have to admit that does sound fun!