The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference ended just over two weeks ago, and we have managed to finally wrap our heads around a fantastic week in Washington DC. As First Time Attendees of the conference, we weren’t entirely sure what to expect from our week in Washington- but I think the conference exceeded any expectations we may have had! From the amazing keynotes with great speeches from Phil Sorgen, Kevin Turner and Satya Nadella, to the sessions around key trends for FY15, through to the incredible networking events that ran throughout the week that were coupled with some great entertainment.

For those of you who were unable to make it to Washington this year, or who, like us, are still trying to wrap your heads around everything you heard, here are my key takeaways from the conference this year:

  • Mobile First, Cloud First  Since Satya Nadella became CEO in February, the mantra from Microsoft has been ‘Mobile First, Cloud First’, which was clearly a theme at WPC this year. In both the keynotes there was a strong emphasis on the investment Microsoft has made and will be making in areas such as; increasing the number of data centres they have, improving cloud security, improving partner readiness to move customers to the cloud and new competitively priced devices.
  • Five key megatrends – In FY15, Microsoft is focusing on 5 ‘megatrends’: cloud, mobility, Social and Big data & BI which will all be unpinned by security.
  • Sell ‘business solutions’ – There were many sessions on selling solutions to customers that includes a combination of Microsoft technologies e.g. if you’re selling Dynamics CRM Online you should also be pushing with Office 365 Online and Azure. There was also a strong emphasis that if you are a Dynamics CRM partner you should also be an Office 365 partner and vice versa (definitely some food for thought for many partners)
  • New cloud competences – Gavriella Schuster announced that there will be 3 new cloud competences to recognise partners proven cloud performance. These competences are:

– Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions competency for partners selling Microsoft Office 365 to small and mid-market customers

– Cloud Productivity competency for partners deploying Microsoft Office 365 for enterprise customers

–  Cloud Platform Competency for partners who specialise in delivering infrastructure and SaaS solutions on Microsoft Azure

  • Microsoft Cloud Solutions Provider Program  This new program allows partners to manage the entire lifecycle of their customer’s cloud subscription. Therefore partners will be the single point of contact for all the customer’s needs including billing, provisioning and support. The first cloud services that will be available through this program will be Office 365 and Windows Intune. This will later be expanded to include all of the Microsoft cloud services including Dynamics CRM
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online on Microsoft’s Open Licensing Program – Microsoft has added Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to their Open Licensing Program in addition to Azure Open (which will be available from the 8th August). Adding Dynamics CRM Online to the open licensing program will make it more accessible to SMB’s as it offers more flexibility. This allows partners to easily manage the Dynamics CRM Online licenses they sell for new and existing customers through their current licensing model.
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM Roadmap – Later this year there will be a big update for Dynamics CRM, Marketing, customer care and social listening. Updates include; Lync webinars, improved lead scoring, sales collaboration, more channels for social care, advanced SLA compliance reporting, geo analysis of social data and a mashup of social data with CRM data within Power BI. We can’t wait to see what improvements this update brings!

So that’s it from this year’s Microsoft Partner Conference- we had a great time and have come away energised, excited and ready to move forward with the ‘Mobile First, Cloud First’ mantra Microsoft are driving to their customers. We’re already looking forward to WPC 15 in Orlando- hopefully see you there!