Key Learnings from Microsoft WPC16

My tradition is to do a recap of Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) that was held this year in the beautiful Toronto, Canada. This was my second WPC in Toronto and 12th WPC in the row. I guess I can call myself a WPC veteran. I wrote about my thoughts of the conference prior going to WPC16, where I told about my excitement to have been elected to deliver two sessions.


My speaking engagements during WPC16

How to enter US and Canadian MarketsThe first session – How to enter US and Canadian Markets – was well attended and each one of the panelists (myself included) had a few slides to show and then our moderator Per Werngren had a battery of questions that he posed to the panelists. Based on the questions and people lining up after the session showed us that there is a strong  interest from  independent software vendors from different parts of the world to enter the US markets. My journey in to the US has now lasted 18 years.

There is of course a good reason for an interest in the US markets. US represents one of the largest Microsoft ecosystems and market opportunities for for ISVs around the world, especially if the ISV has demonstrated that the solution they have built is solid and ready for the international markets.  Per Werngren also invited me to discuss about these topics to a meeting that was videotaped and you can see our discussion and also what kind of impact IAMCP organization can have for your market entry strategies.

Top 10 Recommendations when Building ChannelsMy second session – Top 10 Recommendations when Building Channels – was held at the MPN (Microsoft Partner Network) Theater. I was very happy to see every seat taken and based on reactions and requests for me to share my slides, I think I was able to address things that people cared about.

I am grateful to have been selected a speaker again for WPC and it gives me motivation to continue to work on my content and add courses to TELLUS Academy learning management site. If you want to receive free access to my brand new online course “Office 365 Channel Development, Management and Strategy Course”, fill in the form and I will send you a “shopping code” that gives you free access.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella setting the stage

Satya NadellaI could feel the power of 16k+ participants and the strength of Microsoft ecosystem. The atmosphere was vibrant, Microsoft partners wanted to create new business connections and learn from Microsoft keynotes and sessions what Microsoft was focused on and cared about during Microsoft FY17.

The first keynote day was led by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and I really liked the approach that Microsoft took this time. It was only Mr. Nadella presenting (with some side demos) and leading the first keynote day and setting the stage for keynote day 2 and 3. Mr. Nadella has a deep understanding of the markets and I felt that it was important for partners to get his views on things and leave the specifics to his leadership team to deliver during day 2 and 3.  I do not recall if this format has been tested before, but I would recommend that Microsoft continues on this path going forward.

Understanding Microsoft’s FY17 priorities

Microsoft Priorities FY17I my reflection on this WPC, I said it was important to understand what the key drivers would be for the new FY17 that started July 1, 2016 for Microsoft. These key priorities were presented by Judson Althoff, the new executive vice president of Microsoft’s Worldwide Commercial Business unit. These priorities are as follows:

  1. Drive digital transformation with customers
  2. Drive cloud adoption
  3. Propel Windows 10 enterprise deployment
  4. Generate SQL Server 2016 growth
  5. Drive ISV and SI momentum
  6. Make experience come to life with hardware solutions

From my perspective, the fifth objective is my focus and has been so for many years. It has been obvious to me for many years that both ISV and SI business models are changing radically and this is where I can make an impact by providing my workshop services.

I feel that especially SIs that still have not made the business model change by adding value-added services and/or have decided to build its own IP (intellectual property), will have a tremendous challenge to compete. New market entrants with a business model aligned with cloud/app world, will be in a better position to offer services at a lower cost and deliver cloud and app services more effectively than the traditional SIs with a cost model that expect heavy customization. I believe that the new land-and-expand sales model will be the way for SIs to transform their business to the new cloud/app world.  The business model change applies also to LSPs (Licensing Solution Provider). LSPs are trying to figure out new business models as the software margins are thin if the business is pure transaction-based. LSPs need to figure out how they can provide higher value services and potentially bring in software solutions from ISVs that provide a higher gross margin to these LSPs and CSPs (Cloud Solution Providers).

ISVs that have legacy solutions will also have to reinvent themselves and it has become obvious that the transformation is painful and require commitment from executive management to make it happen. I have not seen such as a rapid and radical change in my entire career and my career started from the mini-computer era with DEC VAX/WMS (80s).

What did I get from WPC16?

When I review what I expected from WPC16 and now reflecting on the results, I think this was one of the best WPCs I have been on from TELLUS perspective. My plan to meet with Microsoft executives met my goals, I had the opportunity to meet ISVs from all over the world and talk about their US market entry.


Air Canada CentreGwen StefaniI also had time to enjoy myself with friends and partners that I have met each and every WPC.  As part of a busy week partners had a chance to wind down to listen to the amazing Gwen Stefani and her performance in the Air Canada Centre.

Washington DC CapitolMicrosoft announced that WPC17 will be held in Washington D.C. next year which is also my favorite city and second time (WPC14) that I will be participating in that city. I think it is a good choice and a city that has so much to offer.

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