Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2016: The First Two Days

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2016 kicked off this week. The sold out event is hosting 16,000 Microsoft partners in total – with a wide variety of meeting opportunities, sessions, networking events, and entertainment. The main events, though, have been the Vision Keynote speeches. Two days in a row, attendees packed into the Air Canada Centre (home of the Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs) to hear what Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had to share about the direction Microsoft is taking as it kicks off its new fiscal year.

microsoft worldwide partner conference 2016 air canada centre

In addition to getting a look at Microsoft’s latest technology enhancements – from Dynamics 365 to the HoloLens – we at AvePoint have been lucky to participate in both keynote events in several ways. Here’s a quick look at what’s gone down so far – and there’s still one more full day to go, so stay tuned!

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2016 Day One: Digital Transformation

Following an introduction by Toronto Mayor John Tory and a performance by Somali-Canadian musician K’naan, we got a nice look at the 2016 Partner of the Year Award winners as introduced by Gavriella Schuster – Corporate Vice President, WW Partner Group at Microsoft. Those with a keen eye may have seen a familiar face in the front row – our Co-CEO and Co-Founder Dr. Tianyi (TJ) Jiang! We were proud to accept the award for Technology for Good Citizenship this year – our third Partner of the Year Award in three straight years.

microsoft worldwide partner conference 2016 dr. tianyi tj jiang

From there, we got right down to business with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella sharing the theme for this year’s event: driving digital transformation. The idea of organizations around the world using Microsoft cloud technologies to modernize and streamline their operations stretched across both days, and will most likely set the tone for tomorrow as well. Nadella laid out what Microsoft views as the three steps to achieving this goal:

  1. Re-inventing Productivity and Business process
  2. Building the Intelligent Cloud
  3. Create more Personal Computing

microsoft worldwide partner conference 2016 satya nadella keynote

We heard from a wide variety of Microsoft partners and customers as they explained how they’re depending on the Microsoft Cloud to help their organization run efficiently. From Sequence, which uses Surface and other Microsoft technologies to create stylish wearables that help bring awareness to the epidemic gang violence in El Salvador, to GE, whose CEO, Jeff Immelt, spoke with Nadella about how the Microsoft Cloud and the valuable notion of no unplanned downtime is helping the massive conglomerate transition from being an industrial company to a digital one – we saw examples of ways that partner organizations large and small across all different industries are using cloud technology to grow their business.

This, in turn, both enhances and expands the role of IT across the business. As Immelt put it, “The nature of the CIO is going to change from a staff function to an operational productivity function.”

microsoft worldwide partner conference 2016 jeff immelt

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2016 Day Two: Diving into the Technology Behind Transformation

Still buzzing from day one, the day two keynote was even more exciting to those of us on the AvePoint team. First, our own AvePoint Public Sector CTO Dux Raymond Sy played the role of “hype man” during the opening performance by a capella group Eh440 along with a few other select partners. After the crowd was sufficiently energized by Dux and the partners’ energetic opening, it was onto the technology.

microsoft worldwide partner conference 2016 a capella

Using the three core ambitions Nadella outlined for achieving digital transformation, Microsoft executives introduced a series of demos on technologies including SharePoint 2016, Skype for Business (demoed on a Mac, naturally!), Azure Information Protection, and HoloLens (always a showstopper). They are slated to help boost productivity, continue to expand Microsoft’s cloud footprint and capabilities, and improve the machines we use to get our work done.

For us, the most exciting piece was certainly the AppSource demo, which showed off Microsoft’s new store for spinning up cloud-based business apps built on Azure. Our AvePoint Citizen Services solution, which launched along with over 200 apps when AppSource was announced last week, was the marquee app on display. Built on Microsoft Cloud technologies, government agencies or citizen-support non-government organizations (NGOs) now have the ability to automate case management and incident reporting, which allows field officers, operational centers, and the citizens they support to input and manage requests from any device, anywhere, at any time. If you liked the demo and want to try Citizen Services yourself – you’re in luck. The app is available to try now today in AppSource.

microsoft worldwide partner conference 2016 avepoint citizen services demo

What’s Next?

Following up on the themes of “inspiration” and “innovation”, the final keynote tomorrow promises to be all about “action”. If you’re in Toronto, we’ll see you there. If not, stream it live!

If you’re at WPC, be sure to stop by and say hello at booth 439 in The Commons area. We’d love to see you! You can also check out some great sessions from Dux Raymond Sy throughout the remainder of the event, including: