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Microsoft Inspire Keynote Lineup To Include Huddleston

The Microsoft Inspire conference will be the first high-profile opportunity for partners to get a sense of Ron Huddleston, who as the head of the newly created One Commercial Partner organization plays an important role in how Microsoft allocates its resources for the channel.

Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group (WPG), unveiled the speaker lineup this week for Inspire, the July partner gathering previously known as the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC).

As usual, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Schuster will each give a keynote. The CEO has traditionally kicked off the conference and the WPG leader always delivers a speech updating partner programs and incentives. Reprising his spy thriller-style keynotes overviewing Microsoft's role in major geopolitical questions, such as legal challenges to mass surveillance, will be President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith. Executive Vice President of the Microsoft Worldwide Commercial Business Judson Althoff provided the conference wrap-up keynote last year and is on the speaker list again for 2017.

Also speaking are Toni Townes-Whitley, corporate vice president of Public Sector and Industry, and Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Office Marketing.

Huddleston will be an important new face on the main keynote stage. He was elevated to corporate vice president of the One Commercial Partner organization on Feb. 1. He reports to Althoff and counts Schuster, as well as the head of the Enterprise Partner Team, Victor Morales, and Kim Akers, who runs an ISV team, among his direct reports.

Last year, he had just joined Microsoft ahead of WPC from, where he was senior vice president of Global ISV & Channels and played a major role in creating the AppExchange marketplace.

It's possible Huddleston's keynote could cover some of the kinds of material previously addressed at WPC by Microsoft Chief Evangelist Steve "Guggs" Guggenheimer.

In a blog post from the Microsoft Build show earlier this month, Guggs disclosed that he was leaving the developer evangelism group (DX) after 4.5 years to take a role in Microsoft's artificial intelligence and research efforts. "As Microsoft accelerates its AI investments to amplify human ingenuity, I look forward to seeing what Charlotte Yarkoni, CVP, John Shewchuk, Technical Fellow, and Ron Huddleston, CVP, do for developers and ISV's as they onboard the teams that previously comprised DX," he said.

In a few public blog posts on the Microsoft site late last year and this year, Huddleston has encouraged partners of all stripes to concentrate on developing intellectual property -- a major recurring theme from Microsoft to its partners dating back to Phil Sorgen's time atop the WPG.

Whether Huddleston talks about development opportunities with Microsoft products generally, resources for ISVs, opportunities for development by systems integration partners, or potential new ways Microsoft will go about distributing partner-related resources, Inspire attendees in the room in Washington, D.C., and remotely over the Web will be listening closely.

Posted by Scott Bekker on May 25, 2017