RCP Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.

Bekker's Blog

Blog archive

WPC 2016 Preview: 9 Big Themes

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.

There will always be surprises at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC). Otherwise, what would be the point of attending? (Oh, yeah, the networking.) Anyway, here are a few major themes you can expect to hear a lot about.

1. Building the Intelligent Cloud: A few years ago, it might have been worth calling out Office 365, Dynamics CRM Online, Microsoft Azure or hybrid cloud as themes. Now, those technologies form the backdrop against which the majority of the sessions are set. Look at almost every session description and it deals with the Microsoft cloud stack in some way.

Other technology themes spanning much of the session content, according to a Microsoft spokesperson, include "Reinventing Productivity and Business Processes," "Creating More Personal Computing" and "Digital Transformation."

2. Partner Profitability: Dozens of sessions involve advice, panel discussions and case studies of the ways partners are structuring their businesses to maximize profitability, particularly around the cloud.

3. New Buyer: While we only found one session covering this topic, it's been a recurring talking point out of Microsoft of late. The idea is that as cloud applications become quicker to set up and require, or seem to require, less integration, the IT department no longer has sole ownership of technology spending.

4. M&A: Several sessions at the WPC cover mergers and acquisitions, growth strategies with an exit strategy in mind, and related topics. It's not just Microsoft providing this content. The appetite for M&A sessions is exploding across various vendors' partner conferences.

5. Meet the New Channel Chief: At Microsoft, the channel chief tends to go by the official title of corporate vice president (CVP) of the Worldwide Partner Group (WPG). Gavriella Schuster was named to that role in late June after former channel chief Phil Sorgen moved into a CVP job within the U.S. Enterprise & Partner Group.

Expect some introductions to Schuster at the conference, although she's a familiar figure to partners, having delivered keynotes at the last two WPCs.

In the meantime, Schuster provided her own brief preview of the themes for WPC in an e-mailed statement to RCP: "Meeting with partners throughout the year is one of the highlights of my job, but WPC is really something special and I look forward to it each year. This year I'm personally excited for the opportunity to thank our partners, and to talk with them about what they can do right now to grow their business, and share how Microsoft is investing to connect our partners with customers."

6. LinkedIn Deal: Microsoft's blockbuster deal to buy LinkedIn for $26.2 billion has a lot of implications for partners. It might not be discussed from the main stage, but it will definitely be a topic of conversation in the hallways and around lunch tables.

7. SharePoint: Microsoft unveiled major updates to SharePoint in recent months, and there's a lot of unpacking of partner opportunity to do in the WPC sessions this year.

8. Skype for Business: A lot of sessions cover Microsoft's unified communications offering, a good signal of the strategic importance of the platform for Microsoft in fiscal year 2017.

9. Cloud Solution Provider (CSP): The 2015 WPC was the debutante ball for Microsoft's CSP program. While there may be less hype, there are a lot more specifics on CSP coming at the 2016 WPC, including roadmap sessions, details on integrating CSP with a Microsoft practice and educational sessions from Microsoft's CSP distribution partners.

Posted by Scott Bekker on July 07, 2016 at 6:28 AM