You cannot succeed if you simply offer a service. You need to build an app or a concept that is 80% repeatable. You need to add some intellectual property to your Azure based solution and then sell that in a nice package.
Changes to the incentive program is coming and they are looking at ways of making it easier and more predictable. More information at the bottom.
I was there
I was a first-time visitor to Inspire as well as Las Vegas. The whole experience was awesome and a bit “too much” I feel. Being Swedish, I am not used to all the large buildings, glitz and scale of an event like Inspire. I must start by saying: Thank you very much to the Swedish Microsoft delegation that made all us local partners feel pampered.
Before I went to Las Vegas I spent a couple of days in Los Angeles to kick the jet lag. I cannot understate how much I recommend this when going to a conference in the US. It gets you a head start when sitting thru sessions and staying up much later than your mother would approve.
A wonderfully decadent place that I wish that you would visit at least once. A bit on the expensive side, not as bad as say Singapore but I thought it would be much cheaper. I learned a couple of things: It is HOT, so do not walk so much. Take a taxi, or rather an Uber (much cheaper). If you need to rent a car, or drop one off, there is always an Avis rep or drop-off place. Lastly: Every casino is basically the same, but as least nice and cool.
I cannot understand what kind of schedule you would have to attend sessions. There was a lot, and I do mean a LOT. Plan ahead and make sure you know how long you need to walk between them. It might be a 20 min walk(!).
Two sessions stood out as more important to me.
Changes to incentives FY 2019
This was supposed to be about how MS dialed the switches in the incentive program for FY19 but Banu Onal and Leah Childress from Microsoft also found themselves in a discussion about changes to the processes for the incentive program. The old subscription wide incentive/kickback thing does not work anymore as we are often many partners involved in the same customer’s Azure subscription. We where a lot of people with opinions and I think Leah handled it very well. She listed to all opinions and suggestions and I feel confident (or hopeful) that there will be some coming changes to the program.
MeToo in IT
Well that was not the title but that was the content. People in CXO positions from different companies told us about their journeys to make the work environment and company policies more equal. I applaud these people for doing a good job in making sure that women in general and especially younger women feel more welcome in the male-dominated IT-industry. We need diversity, not only mixing genders but ethnicities as well, and we (the companies) are the ones that must make that happen.
As a swede I felt a bit smug though, as many of the things suggested by the panel is commonplace in my country but, of course, we still need to improve.
I spent about 75% of my time on “the floor”. Not only could you attend sessions but talk to other partners, and like any other fair there was a lot of very interesting people and bright ideas. In fact, I feel that this was the best source of inspiration at Inspire.
The picture features one very good example of this. A session on “how to be a better speaker”. Step one was to have a good title for your session to spark interest. I would say that he succeeded.
Microsoft had about half the floor and I think every product group had someone present. Here I had the opportunity to talk directly with the people that make the products we use at work. I learned a lot of what is coming, what might be missing and why some solutions look the way they do. Great stuff!
The message to take home
Inspire is awesome and I would love to go again *starts e-mailing boss* but I feel you need to prepare a lot before going. There is so much you might want to do, and you need to plan and prioritize in order to get the most of it. Make plenty of time to walk the floor and bring questions to the Microsoft product teams. Ask your colleagues!
The future is bright and profitable if you want to make Microsoft-based solutions. They showed a lot of numbers that points to that, but you must make it in a new way. If you want to drive a profitable business in which you get help and sales leads from Microsoft, you need a product, and app or some intellectual property that Microsoft can help you sell. Gone are the days of selling concepts and “just” competence. You need something added to an Azure solution that adds value to the customer and is tangible, like a dashboard, or a portal, or … something.
That intellectual property needs to be 80% repeatable for the next customer, and the next, and the next… the other 20% might be custom configuration, to install software and make it talk to other systems. Also you need to make it look good. If you can make this happen and register the application in the Microsoft catalogue, you have the ability to succeed.
Now … I need to register a couple of domain names and make some concepts tangible.