Allison Watson: Worldwide Partner Conference 2008

Remarks by Allison Watson, corporate vice president, Worldwide Partner Group
Houston, Texas
July 10, 2008

ALLISON WATSON: Good morning. Good morning, partners. Let’s give a huge round of applause to that fantastic show open. (Cheers, applause.)

Today, we’re here to talk a little bit differently than we’ve talked the last few days. In addition to the impact that we make in our businesses, and the profit that we’re focused on, the important thing that we can do with businesses, and our power around the world, is make an impact on the world.

So, today, we want to talk about how we can make a difference, how we can be agents of change, and how together as Microsoft and our partners we can truly make the world a better place.

We saw an amazing story this morning from a partner who made a big difference in the Green Belt Movement. I’m pleased to introduce the CEO of ESRI, Jack Dangermond, who is an important part of that movement, to say a few words about that solution. Jack, good morning.

JACK DANGERMOND: Good morning. How are you?

ALLISON WATSON: That was a pretty powerful thing. (Cheers, applause.)


ALLISON WATSON: So, you’ve been involved in this for a long time, and it kind of shows the time it takes to make an impact in the world. Tell me a little bit about why you’re involved, and how partners can get involved.

JACK DANGERMOND: Great. Are you talking about my age? (Laughter.)


JACK DANGERMOND: Yeah. Forty years, 40 years ago, I started ESRI, and one of our real visions was to bring technology and geographic information into the way that people do things; change the world.

About 20 years ago, we noticed that by donating our software to different NGOs, like the Green Belt Movement, we could actually realize some real value that was beyond our normal business, and that got us very excited.

ALLISON WATSON: Well, that’s fantastic. And what advice would you give to partners?

JACK DANGERMOND: Well, I want them to do what I do. All of us have sort of a sense that we want to give back. I mean, this network, you guys are enormously successful, like you said, bringing technologies, and that’s changed the world, it’s made a huge difference.

Well, that network, imagine that network working on virtually all the problems that we’re facing in the world, problems about the environment, poverty, urban growth, economic development. Well, why not get involved? Not by donating money. I mean, I’m sure that’s very valuable, and I appreciate everything that everybody does. But by using your know-how, your knowledge, what really makes a difference, the same kind of impact and footprint that you’ve left on the world from an economic development bringing technology everywhere, you can do it with all these other dimensions.

So, that’s what I want to say to you is do it sort of like a side business, integrate it into your business, use all of those entrepreneurial sorts of things that you do so well to work on these other dimensions, like Wangari Maathai.

ALLISON WATSON: That’s fantastic, Jack. Thank you so much for joining us, and thanks for the impact you’re making on the world. (Applause.)

So, I’m often asked by partners, how do I get involved, and what can I do to make a difference, and how can Microsoft help.

So, I formed a relationship two years ago with a key leader inside the Microsoft organization, Pamela Passman, who’s our corporate vice president of Global Corporate Affairs. And her team is working with our team to work on ways that we can partner together and make it easier for us to all raise and work together to make an impact together.

So, Pamela, thanks for joining me here at WPC.

PAMELA PASSMAN: It’s great to be here, Allison. (Cheers, applause.)

ALLISON WATSON: So, Pamela, there are three or four initiatives that we want to talk about. The first one, let’s just talk a little bit about policy, because obviously impacting governments is one of the first places to start. So, what are the kinds of things that we’re doing with partners around our policy efforts?

PAMELA PASSMAN: Great. Well, public policy has a great impact on innovation in the IT industry. So, we want to make sure that that impact is positive, and not negative on your bottom line. So, Voices for Innovation is a community of 6,000 partners, developers, and industry leaders around the world who want to engage on these public policy issues, and, in fact, they are engaging. Even here in Texas we had a VFI member, a Microsoft partner, who was concerned about a state procurement law that would have made it tough to sell Microsoft products. So, VFI helped him engage with his local policymakers.

In Argentina over a hundred VFI members had a similar situation, and they were able to get their policymakers to reject a proposal that would have impacted their bottom line.

So, we’re thrilled to be working with our partners on this issue. We’ve got a booth, booth number 444 at the expo, and check out

ALLISON WATSON: Well, thank you, Pamela. We’ve had 6,000 partners in the last year joined to support us, and frankly it’s a way about making sure that we all have the ability to continue to make money, so that we continue to give back. So, it’s an excellent effort; thank you for your support.

Now, the second major effort that you focus on, and one that’s on all of our minds, is the environment. Talk to me a little bit about what we’re doing with the environment, and how partners can get involved there.

PAMELA PASSMAN: Absolutely. We’re working with our partners to increase the energy efficiency of computing, and this is a really exciting area for all of us. We also believe that software is going to play a key role in driving innovation in the world to transition us to a low carbon economy. So, we’re working with our partners, we’re working with scientists and engineers and universities, environment NGOs, and governments, and together we’re going to take on these big challenges, investing in R&D, and together we’re going to make a difference.

ALLISON WATSON: Fantastic. And the final one, and obviously our theme for this morning is around social responsibility. So, what are we doing now, what are we doing with the IAMCP, and how can partners get involved?

PAMELA PASSMAN: Great. Well, through Microsoft Unlimited Potential Community Technology Skills program we’re committed to bringing IT skills to people all over the world who are disadvantaged and don’t have access to those types of skills. We do this with local NGOs in over a hundred countries, and we’ve already reached over 110 million people.

We know our partners can play a big role in this. So, together through IAMCP we’re driving some pilots to see how we can work together. In India, (TechGym ?), one of our partners, is helping an NGO called HelpAge better use technology to reach over 1.5 million beneficiaries that that NGO works with.

So, we have great opportunity to make a difference together.

ALLISON WATSON: I really appreciate that. Thank you so much. And I know that we want feedback from our IAMCP members, and from the folks out there in the room, as to how we really pioneer this, because I know we’re just at the beginning of making an even bigger impact.

So, thank you for joining me, thanks for your support. Our partners appreciate it.

PAMELA PASSMAN: Thanks so much. (Applause.)


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