Channel Watch

WPC 2012 Session Agenda: Heavy on the Cloud

If the initial session list is any indication, Microsoft is stacking its forthcoming Worldwide Partner Conference with lots of Windows Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM content. But its staple products will get their turns in the spotlight, too.

Every Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) delivers its value in three main ways for the thousands of channel partners who attend. The conference starting July 8 in Toronto will be no different.

Networking is the most important. While every relationship-building opportunity is different every year and with each meeting, Microsoft partners know generally what to expect. In this issue, we've pulled together some best practices for getting the most out of WPC networking from five expert channel consultants (see "Marching Orders: Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2012").

At the show, Microsoft also usually makes significant news announcements during executive keynotes about product-related initiatives, adjustments to the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) and financial incentives. The only way to know for sure what those will be is to attend, follow the keynotes online or check news sources, such as's WPC 2012 page.

WPC's third kind of value comes from the hundreds of conference sessions on various topics, and this value is easiest to assess before you go. Microsoft begins publishing the session schedule in the spring and by press time had more than 150 session descriptions posted.

If the initial session list is any indication, the forecast is for cloudy skies from horizon to horizon. More than 30 sessions listed some form of cloud in their titles, be it Windows Azure, Office 365, Dynamics CRM Online or Windows Intune. That doesn't count the many sessions that will include cloud more tangentially.

Cloud sessions range from business advice, such as "Making Money with Microsoft Cloud, the Real-World How-To"; to better-together best practices, like "Microsoft Office 365 + Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online"; to roadmaps, like "Microsoft Online Services: Evolving Cloud Offerings in FY13."

For attendees not exclusively interested in cloud, there's a lot more content on offer. There are sessions on partner staple products such as SharePoint, SQL Server and Windows Server. Microsoft is also devoting sessions to Microsoft Lync, System Center and Microsoft Project.

As usual, there's a lot of insight available on general information for running a technology sales business: "Teaching Techies to Sell," "Predicting Sales Success by Filling the Pipeline" and "Presenting at C-Level." Recruiting is percolating as a channel issue again, and MPN General Manager Julie Bennani will tackle the topic in a session called "The Coming Talent War and Building Partner Sales Skills Excellence."

A few sessions focusing on the MPN itself promise to be interesting, as well. Another Bennani session looks at "MPN FY13 and Beyond; Vision and Direction." On the Dynamics side, Microsoft channel executive Jeff Edwards will address "Channel Consolidation: Six Months After -- How Is Our Channel Doing?"

More sessions are sure to come to the lineup at as the conference assumes final shape. What are you looking forward to at WPC? Let me know at [email protected] or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.