Allison Watson: Worldwide Partner Conference 2008

Remarks by Allison Watson, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Partner Group, Microsoft
July 8, 2008

ALLISON WATSON: Welcome to Houston. Let’s give it up for the Top Dogs and EB Fraley Band. (Applause.) I’m honored today to be here with the most amazing group of entrepreneurs from around the world, to be surrounded by those of you that lead our industry and your local communities. Thank you for the fantastic work in the last 365 days since WPC in Denver. Your results delivered great results for Microsoft all the way up to the last hour of the last minute of the last day. Thank you and I look forward to another great year ahead.

I hope you had a couple of minutes, a couple of days to get rest before heading out to WPC in Houston this year. Now we’re here, it’s time to start a new year, and I thought I would share with you the top 10 reasons you should be here at WPC 2008. Number ten, it’s WPC’s fifth birthday, so there might be cake.

Number nine, 50 percent fewer keynotes gets you back in the heat that much faster.

Number eight, in Texas, if you introduce someone as your husband or wife three times, you’re legally married. That’s actually a true fact, so be careful out at the parties.

Number seven, with Digital WPC you can rewatch your favorite keynote again and again every night with your family.

Number six, 12,000 attendees means 12,000 new business cards.

Number five, you can place your bets on which exec will fall off this stage.

Number four, with Hyper-V, SQL, ACS, EPS, VPS, SES, B-POS and OCS, you have plenty of new acronyms to impress your friends.

The number four reason to spend time at WPC this year, fancy water bottles.

Number two, you might get an autograph from Nobel Peace Prize Winner Muhammed Yunus.

And the number one reason to be at WPC 2008, it’s never been a better time to be a Microsoft partner. (Applause.)

All right. So seriously, WPC is built to do two things, to inspire you and also to answer the burning questions that you’ve asked us and the executives from Microsoft over the course of the year. So when I travel around the world, there’s four or five core themes that I hear again, and again, and again regardless of where I go. They have to do with finding, attracting, and retaining talent. And with the complexity in our industry today it becomes even more important every year.

Secondly, you talk about, hey, it’s a tough economy in certain parts of the world, although here in Houston it’s going quite well, where should I place my bets? And how do I know that my bets will pay off? You want to know a little bit about promotion from our customers, you asked me about, what about the Microsoft Partner Program brand, and what about the brand of Microsoft, and how do you bring the value of the Microsoft Gold Certified, and Certified Partner brand to value for our customers, and you’ll hear about that. And finally, we’ve got some exciting news this week, because you asked about the software plus services transformation, what’s Microsoft’s role, are you going to bring the partners along with you, what’s the role, is Microsoft going to participate, and will partners pay off in the industry?

So themes for WPC that I hope you leave with after coming through the next three days with us. First, we’ll talk about the partner program evolution. Your feedback is critical to us, over the next 18 months we will evolve the partner program, we’ll evolve it so that we get after your issues around talent, and we will evolve it to get after the issues about brand and promotion. Your input this week will help us shape that change, and we will make changes over the next 12 to 18 months so that we can evolve together with you.

The second theme of the week is software plus services. There will be announcements, there will be announcements in the next 10 minutes about how the software plus services business is evolving, our products, our services, and most importantly, and I’m incredibly proud to be here with you, is how Microsoft has a story that is partner-led, and partner capable. So we look forward to your participation with us as we evolve with software plus services.

The next major theme is all about the launch momentum. When we talk about tough times in the economy I think it will be important for you all to sit back and think about the wave of technology that’s happened in the last two years, not to mention the wave that’s coming up in the next 12. I didn’t really bring my jet pack today, and I didn’t bring my surf board today, but I think we can pile them on top of each other, because now is the time to figure out how to take advantage of that launch momentum both for our customers, and for your businesses at home.

The next major theme is around Windows Vista deployment. You’ll hear from Brad Brooks later today about where we are. It’s time for us to bust through the mist. We’ve got to bust through the mist with you first, because you’re out there with our customers. You must be running our software first, so that you can be credible and honest in front of our customers. You also have to be supported on the back end. So I think our goal today with you is to bust through the mist on Windows Vista.

Finally, and most importantly, is the focus around relentless focus on customer satisfaction. It’s important to us that you’re satisfied and profitable in your business relationship, and as importantly for all of us here is that you have a focus on satisfaction for our mutual customer base.

Now, there are quite a few of you who supported our  who nominated yourselves for our partner program award. Those of you who have the highest focus on customer satisfaction, those of you who take innovation to the new level, those of you who really, really focus every day on making customers have more impact in their businesses. There are 46 of you who were awarded a special award this year as Microsoft 2008 Champions of the Year for the Partner Program Awards. I’d like to invite those special 46 partners to the stage with me now, so we can recognize their great achievement. Please join me on stage. (Applause.)

All right. Thanks again to those award winners. You know, I talked to Hugh last night as he was preparing to come on stage today from the Osper Computer Group. He’s had over 12 universities adopt his solution, which was identity management for students, on top of the Microsoft Live at EDU platform. And over 100,000 students are being empowered with a Microsoft solution. Way to go Osper Computer Group in the UK. And then Brad, from Eclipse Computing in Australia, developed the VinPoint solution, which is the first end-to-end industry solution, if you will, from grower to distributor in the wine industry, and over 800 people inside the wine industry are now using that to get their bottles to market faster, and to get them to the places that make impact so that they can sell more wine. It’s solutions and stories like that that makes you all, and what you do in our industry unbelievable. Thank you. Keep the stories coming, tell stories all week, and let’s have a great week together. Thanks very much. (Applause.)

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