In the Microsoft ecosystem, one of the biggest events of the year is Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC). Taking place every July, WPC brings together Microsoft partners from around the world to connect, strategize, and take in the latest and greatest from Microsoft and its partners as the company kicks off its new fiscal year.
This year’s event in Toronto was my 7th WPC, and it was truly an exciting showing for AvePoint. We not only had the opportunity to showcase the work we’re doing from the event’s biggest stage, but were also honored to accept AvePoint’s third consecutive Microsoft Partner of the Year Award on behalf of the company for our work on the 6Degree.org project.
From the keynotes, to the meetings, to the camaraderie at after-hours events, there was so much to take in at this year’s WPC. Below are a few points that resonated with me most and how they relate to the present and future of AvePoint.
1. Cloud Continues to Dominate the Conversation
This year’s overarching theme, which was heard above all else, was digital transformation. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella introduced the concept during the day one keynote, and you could hear it echoed through countless announcements, demonstrations, and discussions from the main stage and beyond. Nadella noted that Information Technology currently makes up about five percent of the current global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but that is expected to grow by eight percent in the coming years. However, if you think about how companies do business today, the entire GDP is shaped by digital technology – the email, cloud-based applications, and social collaboration tools we use to get work done in the modern era.
As the concept of digital transformation was explored throughout the event, the cloud was a dominant force throughout. I estimate that at least 90 percent of the topics I heard about throughout the event were on the cloud. It’s where customers are going, and the Microsoft ecosystem’s ability to thrive will depend on partners’ ability to make that journey with them. We’ve seen this ourselves with the significant growth of our AvePoint Online Services offering over past three years, and we’re now supporting more than 5 million cloud users today. As Nadella put it, we’re in a “golden era” of cloud application services, and the tools that we are already building into our own offering are laying the groundwork to help organizations achieve this digital transformation.
2. The Race to Digitize is on
At the beginning of his speech during the keynote on day two, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith shared two images with a striking contrast. One showed a Manhattan intersection in 1905 with the streets full of horses, carriages, and trolleys. A depiction of the same intersection 20 years later showed no horses and just a few trolleys. Most notably, the streets were filled with the latest technology at the time – the automobile. It’s a great visual representation of how quickly technology causes our world to change. In the midst of our global digital transformation, we are currently seeing another great disruption, and we are proud to work closely with Microsoft to help usher in this next revolution by contributing to a more responsive cloud.
On day one, Microsoft brought out perhaps the perfect guest to speak with Nadella on the topic of shifting an industrial business to a digital one – General Electric (GE) CEO Jeffrey Immelt. Immelt spoke about how the 140 year old company is digitizing its entire business and relying heavily on Microsoft Cloud technology to do so. According to Immelt, the demarcation line between success and failure for organizations in the future is how fast they can digitize.
The cloud, with its unparalleled scalability and ability to eliminate the possibility of unplanned downtime, is key to success in this era. At the same time, it’s causing IT and Operational Technology (OT) to become more tightly stitched together, and certain roles will change and increase in importance because of that. For example, as Immelt said, the role of the CIO is changing from a staff-oriented function to one that is designed to drive organizational productivity. Whether it’s compliance, governance, data privacy, or simple data management headaches, we’re committed to continuing to break down barriers to greater productivity in the Microsoft Cloud in this new era of digitization.
3. Agility is Key in the Era of Cloud
The Microsoft Cloud is growing rapidly. According to Scott Guthrie, Microsoft Executive Vice President for Cloud & Enterprise, there are now 36 Azure data centers around the globe – more than Google and Amazon Web Services combined. Along with that growth comes rapid change – something we ourselves have embraced with our monthly AvePoint Online Services updates, giving customers the capabilities they need more rapidly than ever before.
This need for business agility is why we built AvePoint Citizen Services, which you may have read about in The Wall Street Journal and Forbes. Built on Microsoft Cloud technology and available to try now through Microsoft’s new AppSource store for cloud-based business applications, Citizen Services enables government agencies have the ability to automate case management and incident reporting. The app provisions in seconds and allows you to integrate the Azure Internet of Things (IoT) Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite alongside Office 365, Dynamics 365, and Power BI to connect industrial data with business processes and analytics. We were thrilled to have our app demoed live from the keynote stage, with James Phillips – Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Business Applications, Platform and Intelligence Products – showcasing how Citizen Services helps the public sector achieve digital transformation.
As the Microsoft Cloud expert, our goal is to continue to deliver innovation built on our legacy of migrating, managing, and protecting data across SharePoint and Office 365 for 15,000 organizations and 5 million cloud users worldwide. As customers continue to look to the Microsoft Cloud for their own digital transformation initiatives, we remain fully dedicated to supporting that transition and evolution every step of the way.