Fast-paced, Inspiring, Exciting, Connected
Those are a few of the words that come to mind when thinking about the experience for Team SkyKick over the 4 days we spent at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2016.
With just over a week passing since the conclusion of this immense event, here is a walk-through of our team’s awesome time connecting with partners throughout the event.
Microsoft WPC: Kind of a big deal for Team SkyKick
The way we figure it, you can’t truly be partner-first and partner-only, if you don’t love to engage with partners, and put their success at the center of all that you do. We love connecting with our partners, and that’s why we love Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.
It’s an amazing connection point with partners from around the world. The awesome relationship-building and fantastic knowledge-sharing are the fuel for the long days. Let’s start with the end at the beginning. Check out our full Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2016 recap video here, then read on for a play-by-play recap.
SkyKick WPC Recap: Sunday July 10 to Wednesday July 13
This year was our biggest presence ever at the event, both in terms of our participation as a gold sponsor, and in the size and diversity of the SkyKick team attending. We headed to Toronto with team members from all our global locations, and spanning company functions including account management, sales & marketing, biz dev, engineering and product management.
Here’s how it went..
Sunday 10th: Partner Chat / Mini-Seminar
We weren’t joking when we said our major focus for WPC 2016 was engaging with our partners, so we didn’t waste any time! After a big team brunch, the first order of business was to host a few partners from around the world at a mini-seminar.
Co-CEOs Evan Richman and Todd Schwartz shared some of the recent evolutions to the SkyKick platform, including a live demo of our pre-WPC announcement of SkyKick Syndication and Developer APIs.
It was a great way to get Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference started with some sharing and open feedback from partners in a relaxed environment.
Sunday 10th: Party Time!
There’s no way we’d let WPC be all work and no play…It’s about connecting, and sometimes, you can’t beat a chat over a drink or two. We pride ourselves on more than just our technology. Team SkyKick can party!
In what’s become something of a Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference tradition for us, we help partners kick off their time at WPC right with the SkyKick Party. So at 7:30pm on Sunday night, it was party time at the Thompson Hotel, and of course we went ’till the wee hours of the morning!
Monday 11th: Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference – Day 1
Every day at WPC is great, but of course Day 1 has its unique flavour of excitement. Highlights of the day were the introductory keynotes to hear Microsoft’s latest thinking and vision, meetings and engaging with our partners at the booth. Technical Account Manager Lee, says it better than I can on what day 1 of the full conference was all about for us.
Press and Other Meetings.
In addition to the great conversations at the booth, there were lots of side meetings and press conversations including various members of our team, particularly our executives.
Co-CEOs Evan Richman and Todd Schwartz personally took time to share thoughts on the industry, including this chat early on Monday with Mark Cox of Channel Buzz Canada, who published a story based on the interview on our unique differentiation and why we were at WPC.
UK-based GM Robin Kellet shared thoughts on cloud partner profitability with SkyKick in the MPN Booth on Day 1.
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference – Day 2 & 3: Tuesday July 12th and Wednesday July 13th
After the frenzy of the big kickoff on day 1, things got into a rhythm on days 2 and 3.
Team SkyKick continued to participate in both scheduled and ad hoc booth meetings with partners, while sharing our latest thoughts on cloud transformation and profiability in the cloud at public presentations.
VP Product Management Chris Rayner in the Partner Theater
SkyKick co-CEO Evan Richman shares perspective on how partners can transform to become truly cloud-ready with Microsoft’s Karen Fassio and Intivix CEO Dan Gordon
Key WPC 2016 event takeaways for partners:
With a mega event like WPC, there are so many moments where you share and learn, that we left the event buzzing with ideas and takeaways!
It wouldn’t be the SkyKick way if we didn’t try to share some helpful insights with you, our partners, so with the help of over 10 of team SkyKick’s participants at the event, here are some of the top themes across our combined conversations.
1) Very forward-looking outlook from Partners this year
Every Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference brings partners together to hear Microsoft’s latest thinking and how it plans to evolve partner-focused programs, yet we were especially struck by a consistently long-range forward planning element to many of our conversations.
Of course partners are trying to solve today’s challenges, yet many of our conversations focused on the longer range cloud opportunity for partners. There was tons of interest in making the right technology platform bets that would position partners for maximum success in IT cloud services delivery.
Partners were very focused on understanding both what Microsoft was doing, and how the platforms of the ISVs that they use today might evolve in ways that they could leverage.
2) Mega focus on recurring revenue & profitability in the cloud
In our experience, cloud-focused partners are always focused on revenue and margin as they build their cloud businesses, yet at this year’s WPC it was noticeable how much excitement existed for partners around the ways that they were transforming their cloud businesses to emphasize recurring revenue.
Microsoft has already been active in sharing its cloud partner profitability pillars, and there was significant interest from partners of all sizes in how SkyKick could help them across all the dimensions of partner profitability.
Partners know that we help them significantly boost operational efficiency, yet there were great conversations about the ways that we’re also helping partners to differentiate, improve sales and marketing, and drive customer lifetime value and recurring revenue.
It led to some great, animated conversations about our cloud management vision, and particularly how partners can progress from migrating their customers to the cloud, to recurring revenue with cloud backup and management, as outlined in this slide snapshot from co-CEO Evan Richman’s Cloud Ready presentation with Microsoft.
3) Sales and new business development top of mind
Driving new business was a topic of tons of conversations. Partners were keenly aware of the need to build muscles in sales and marketing, and talked as much as we’ve ever heard about the emphasis they’re placing on differentiating themselves. As a result there was a lot of interest in our syndication story, as well as the ways that we could help enable partners to sell more effectively.
4) Microsoft CSP Program driving Partner Evolution
Microsoft is opening its CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) program at a rapid rate. We’ve been hearing from lots of partners who have become newly-minted CSPs, and it was particularly evident at WPC.
The new factors involved with being a CSP were top of mind for many, and we saw that in addition to tweaking cloud go-to-market models, partners who have become CSPs or are interested in becoming on, are really doubling down strategically on technology tools and platforms to anchor their next wave of Office 365 and Azure-focused solutions. Here’s a good article you can check out on CSP considerations from a partner perspective.
So that’s our recap. We had an amazing time at Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2016 and the ideas are already percolating for Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2017. We look forward not just to next year, but to all the upcoming events in the coming months where we’ll have a chance to meet, learn from and connect with IT partners who want to succeed in the cloud.
Chike, VP Marketing, on behalf of Team SkyKick