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WPC 2016 Preview: 9 Must-See Sessions

RCP analyzed the Worldwide Partner Conference session catalog to help partners get the most out of the show or to track it from the office. For more on WPC 2016, visit our event page here.

If you think of the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in terms of the old Microsoft phrase "drinking from the firehose" for getting up to speed at a disorientingly fast rate, this is the group of sessions that forms the core of the conference's infodump.

1. Satya Nadella Vision Keynote: The Microsoft CEO usually kicks off the conference from the big stage, laying out the themes and making some major news announcements.

2. Kevin Turner Vision Keynote: Just as Nadella opens the conference, COO Turner comes in for the big finish. In a presentation usually filled with competitive barbs, kick-in-the-pants motivation and chock-full of Microsoft boosterism, Turner reinforces the themes and sends the crowd home with some chuckles.

[Update, 7/7: After this article was published, Microsoft announced that Kevin Turner was leaving the company. Read the article here.]

3. Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) Vision Keynote: In addition to product group keynotes, Microsoft usually provides an MPN keynote filled with program momentum details and programmatic and incentive announcements.

4. Office 365 Roadmap: In the running with Azure for Microsoft's most strategic product is Office 365. Microsoft plans to give partners a detailed roadmap for the Office 365 family of cloud services in a special session.

5. FastTrack: A major source of conflict between Microsoft and partners is Microsoft FastTrack, the controversial program and internal onboarding center to provide customers with free migrations to Office 365 and other cloud products. Microsoft will openly make its case for partner opportunities around FastTrack in a WPC session.

6. SMS&P Enterprise Partner General Session: This is the public session where Microsoft's heavyweight partners, the licensing solution providers (LSPs), get details on how their incentives will work. At recent WPCs, LSPs have generally learned that their incentives were going down. Changes in LSP compensation can push those partners into conflict with smaller partners for services revenues, making the session important beyond the exclusive LSP community.

7. U.S. Field Priorities: The WPC is an international conference, but a plurality of attendees usually comes from the United States. For those U.S. partners, the U.S. field priorities session provides information on Microsoft's co-engagement plans with partners.

8. MPN 101: New partners especially can benefit from an overview session on the MPN. Benefits discussed include internal use rights, technical support, marketing materials and incentives.

9. PIE: Another valuable session for new and experienced partners is an update on the Microsoft Partner Incentive Engine (PIE), which Microsoft describes as a partner's single access point to a pool of $20 million that partners can use for marketing, pilots and deployment programs.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 05, 2016