Several members of our team have spent the week at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC). This annual conference is where Microsoft kicks off their fiscal year with partner companies like PTG (and 20,000 of our peers). It’s three days of keynotes, meetings, breakout sessions (and maybe a few parties) designed to help us improve our business, and in turn, help empower our customers.
Here are a few key takeaways:
1. We’re number one! Again!
We’re going to toot our own horn for a minute. At WPC, we were once again named the Champions Club Southeast Cloud Partner of the Year! This is the second year in a row we’ve won this award and the third year overall.
The Cloud, specifically Microsoft technologies like Office 365, Azure and Dynamics CRM, are a huge part of our business. We’ve helped dozens and dozens of companies improve their productivity and security by moving to to the Cloud - that include us, by the way! It’s always nice to be recognized for doing something you believe in!
2. Microsoft has embraced their newly redefined mission and it shows.
"Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more."
It shows in their messaging: This mission statement is widely shared and was repeated in keynotes and sessions throughout WPC. Throughout the week, Microsoft has given the stage over to partners and other organizations to show what they're doing using Microsoft products. A HUGE range of companies spoke: companies using Microsoft technology to improve the fan experience at sporting events to an oil company tracking problems before they start to a non-profit using Microsoft technology to help find missing children in Canada - and that was just in one session.
Microsoft’s mission also shows in their product line up. Their more recent products and newly released products and offerings are all about giving people the right mix of technologies needed to achieve more. Which leads us to…
3. Microsoft is all in on the Cloud, especially in a SaaS model (New products alert!)
This isn't really new or surprising if you've been paying attention to the Microsoft's direction in the last few years. WPC definitely reinforced it, though. The theme of the week was digital transformation. The tool to achieve that? The Cloud.
There is also a big emphasis on Software as a Service (Saas) models, which should be no surprise to Office 365 users. These are typically more flexible and an easier barrier to entry to companies, especially small businesses. Microsoft announced a few new SaaS Services throughout the week:
- Dynamics 365: Dynamics 365 was actually announced shortly before WPC, but was covered heavily throughout the conference, including in CEO's Satya Nadella's keynote address. See below for more explanation.
- Windows 10 as a Service: Microsoft has been describing Windows 10 as a service for a while now, and we finally got more details. Businesses will soon be able to purchase licenses for Windows 10 Enterprise E3 for $7/user/month. This will include ongoing updates (rather than waiting for a big OS upgrade every few years), but the biggest advantage we see is some significant advancements to cyber security.
- Surface as a Service: Microsoft announced a new program for partners (like PTG) to be able to offer Surfaces as a Service to customers. It’ll basically act as a leasing program. We don’t have a ton of details yet, but this could be huge for companies who have highly mobile employees and companies with a seasonal workforce.
4. Microsoft is applying what they've done with Office 365 to Dynamics CRM.
Dynamics 365 was a big topic at WPC. The service, coming this fall, combines existing CRM and ERP products into one service (this article provides more explanation). We see two key advantages to Dynamics 365:
- Role-based licensing: You’ll be able to buy licenses for Dynamics 365 based on your job (finances, sales, marketing, etc). Different job roles have different needs, so being able to buy based on your role is a nice change.
- Integration with other programs: A big part of Microsoft’s mission to help you achieve more is by building products and services that integrate with one another – Dynamics 365 is no exception. The service will integrate directly with Office 365 and other Microsoft programs to give you a seamless working experience.
We’re excited to see the release of the Dynamics 365 and other programs announced this week. Microsoft has changed their thinking in the last few years. They’re no longer a closed ecosphere – they’re making products to make it easier to work, no matter what platform or device you’re using. The biggest beneficiary of all this? The customer.
Let us know if you’re interested in any of the new products. They’re not quite all out yet, but we can go ahead and start pulling together a plan to get you working... and help you acheive more.