Trip to Texas – Microsoft WPC Day 2

One of the challenges of attending the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference is the fact that it’s so huge, so vast, with so many things to see and people to meet, that you can go crazy trying to fit everything in. The day starts early at 0830 and “officially” finishes around 1800 – but then there is a party every evening and so you find yourself going to bed late and getting up early every day.

Tuesday’s Keynote was “Exploring Microsoft’s Vision, Strategy and Solutions” with Stephen Elop, Andrew Lees, Allison Watson and Brad Brooks of Microsoft. Erick Simpson has a good write-up of the event over at his blog – go take a look!

The theme of my own day was “Windows Mobile”. One of the things I’m hearing again and again from speakers at WPC is that SMB Consultants should be looking to specialise, and so I’m investigating whether Mobile Solutions could be that speciality for me.

The first Break-Out session I attended was Andrew Lees on “Why Windows Mobile Should Be A Part Of Your Business”. The new Windows Mobile 6.1 system was being demonstrated here. As well as a bunch of bug-fixes and improvements, I really liked the Automatic Configuration feature when used alongside Microsoft Exchange 2007. In a nutshell, to set-up a new Activesync configuration, the end-user need only drop his e-mail address onto his Mobile device. The device then contacts the relevant Exchange 2007 server (and thanks to a AutoConfig DNS entry) and then configures the Mobile device for synchronisation. This should prove a real benefit when setting up Mobile devices as you could easily talk the end-user through this process over the ‘phone.

Other new features that caught my attention were the ability to force Security Policies on the Mobile device, the much easier centralised management of devices – including remote wipe, for if a device gets stolen or lost, and the threaded SMS messages feature – ala Apples iPhone.

I then moved onto Laura Johnson presenting “Mobility, Productivity and Customer Connectivity for Your SMB Customers – Today and Tomorrow”. As well as talking more about Windows Mobile 6.1, many of the new features of SBS 2008 were shown – including the updated Remote Web Workplace features.

Another area of specialisation that I’ve considered is the growing CRM market. My business recently rolled out our first (non-Microsoft) CRM deployment to a multi-national client, and I can now see further potential opportunities as a result of our experiences there.

So I attended “Business Solutions to Help SMBs improve their Performance and Productivity” which had a large amount of SBS 2008 content, but concentrated on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and had two partners talking enthusiastically about how they had seen their businesses grow as a result of providing CRM solutions to clients. Plenty of food for thought.

Finally, still on the CRM theme – “Customer Acquisition and Retention: Solutions to Find, Grow and Retain Customers” was a stand-out session for me. David Lees of South-Africa spoke of how at a trip to last years WPC, he was struck by the opportunity he saw in the CRM area. Returning home from WPC, he left his existing business partnership providing IT Generalist services, and struck out on his own providing CRM installations. David enthusiastically spoke of how he’d done zero marketing, as other IT generalist partners had brought him in to speak to their clients directly as a partner, and as we know, referrals are a lot stronger candidates to turn into closures than any other method of attracting business.

I was really inspired by David’s story and found myself making frantic notes with ideas for future reference!

The “official” day came to a close and we were then treated to drinks, dinner and live music courtesy of Bryan Lubeck at the EBS 2008 Launch Party.

It was then off to to the infamous UK Regional Party. I’d already been tapped up by a few non-UK individuals to try and get them into the event, as the party has an infamous history of being the wildest at WPC. I can see why! The evening had a 1950’s USA theme, with roller-skating waitresses, Elvis impersonators, and all manner of wigs! The free beer was flowing very very freely, and we tried our hand at 50’s dancing, Hula Hoop and much more besides.

Frankly, I won’t go into the whole evening as it degenerated into the sort of insane shenanigans that only a free bar can guarantee – but when I rolled in at 3am, I was not only pretty jolly, but plain pretty as well – as you can see!

I’ll leave you with this photograph, which just about sums up the night. Thankfully this blog isn’t as respected as Dave Overton’s own blog, and never will be with photos like this. This is how I repay the guy for being so kind to me when he wrote about me recently

For shame! 🙂

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