Pip Marlow: Worldwide Partner Conference 2015

Remarks by Pip Marlow, Managing Director, Microsoft Australia, in Orlando, Florida, July 15, 2015.


PIP MARLOW:  A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.  I really love that quote.  And for me it talks about two things. The first is it’s not about the destination, but it’s how you navigate your way to where you’re going.  And the second, it’s about your ability to take the wheel in your own hands to be masters of your own destiny.  But in some ways I guess I don’t need to tell you, the people in this room, how important that is, because this ecosystem has been transforming for as long as I’ve been in it.

And, in fact, I joined Microsoft 20 years ago this year in Australia, and I joined in your heartland as a partner account manager.  And at that time in Australia, we had a great partner, their name Anabelle Bits.  And Anabelle Bits was a system builder.  Their value proposition: Customize desktops built at speed for the local market.  But Anabelle Bits, like many system builders, they were disrupted.  For them it came in the form of the laptop.

Now this disruption, it could have been the beginning of the end, but it wasn’t.  It was actually the beginning of a great partnership with Microsoft that has spanned my 20 years at the company.  And Anabelle Bits evolved.  They moved from building PCs to delivering services to their customers.  And now they’ve continued to evolve.  They’re delivering data center solutions and selling Surface devices to some of the largest customers in Australia.  And I personally love being part of Ken and Marie’s journey as they’ve evolved and created what’s next in their organization.

Now there’s lots of stories like that, stories of disruption, and it’s certainly been a common thread throughout these last three days.  And you know lots of those stories.  They’re in your companies.  They’re in the companies around you.  But the commitment that we’re making, firstly, across Microsoft and in the field is that you’re not alone in that change and in that disruption.  In fact, I’m standing here today representing 3,000 Microsoft employees in the field whose day-to-day job is supporting you and helping you in that transformation, and thousands of other employees who care about making sure we have a thriving ecosystem to take care of our modern customer.

Now I started by taking you back in time 20 years.  I want you to fast-forward and join me in 2008.  Brad Rappell, a great Australian partner in the audience here somewhere today, and a serial entrepreneur.  They built their business, Productive, on SharePoint and infrastructure solutions.  They were doing a great job.  But in 2008, at this very conference in Houston, Brad had a defining moment.  He came to keynotes a lot like this, and he saw that there was a paradigm change.

And in this new world cloud would disrupt how innovation was being delivered to his customers.  So he went back home to the shores of Australia and he made a very bold decision.  Brad disrupted himself, and despite investing heavily for years in Productive, he created a new organization called InverseCurve born around the BPOS opportunity.  And over time that grew, and they became one of our most successful Office 365 partners selling tens of thousands of seats to hundreds of organizations across Australia.

But Brad, like all great entrepreneurs, had one eye on the road ahead, and he realized that in the world of the modern customer just transacting in Office 365 would not be enough to differentiate himself.  So he came to the local Microsoft team for a little bit of help.  And together we went on a journey of learning and discovery.  We ran the partner profitability workshops with him, and he would say that it was eye-opening, so much so that he created a new business model and a new company called CloudFirst, where they’ve created some unique IP, IP that was focused on the franchise market and that they could replicate.  And they built that IP on Office 365 and they are delivering it on the CSP program.

At the heart of this transformation for Brad, which he says Microsoft was with him every step of the way, was especially of value to his customers, but partnering with the local team to run those workshops to challenge himself on what’s next.  And I want to challenge every partner in this room to engage their local teams on those workshops.  I’ve had some people say, I don’t know that they’re for me.  We don’t need them.  But there are so many stories of partners large and small in Australia who have used these workshops to transform how they do business.

But it’s not the only way to engage your local team.  I want to tell you the story of InfoMedics, another great partner.  But before I do, you need to know a little bit about the world that they operate in.  So Australia, world’s largest island, almost as big geographically as the U.S., but with a population more the size of Texas.  And in our homeland, we have a very distributed healthcare system and many of the workers in there are still paper-based and desk-bound.

InfoMedics created some amazing IP, IP that allowed them to digitize patient records, which meant healthcare workers, doctors, nurses could access the information that mattered most to them from anywhere.  But to reach their customers in this distributed world, they had to disrupt their marketing; they had to go from the old world to the new to reach and talk to them.

So in partnership with their local team, they did just that.  The team helped them access the incredible resources that you’ve heard Phil and others talk about, the modern marketing materials, tutorials, workshops, online content.  And they created a new digital footprint, a digital go-to-market for their customers.  And then in working with their local team they went one step further and they created an online TCO assessment tool, which allowed them to reach new audiences and talk to the business decision-makers outside of IT, and you just heard from Phil how important that is.  It’s a great example of the magic, the magic that can happen when you tap into our global resources and partner with the local team.

I’ve told you three stories today.  I took you back in time 20 years and talk about Anabelle Bits; I talked about the serial reinvention that Brad and the team at CloudFirst have gone through and the transformative world of digital marketing’s InfoMedics.  Each of these partners is on the path to navigate their own bend in the road, and they’re working with us globally and locally to do just that.  And while the stories are all different, they also have some commonalities.

The first for me is they all put the customer at the center, looking to add value to the modern customer, and helping every business and every person on this planet achieve more is at the center for us and needs to be at the center for you, too.

The second is the need for leadership.  You’ve heard a lot about disruption in this conference.  It takes great leadership and courage to disrupt yourself, because what got you here may not take you to where you want to go.  And that is an important part in your role in leading that change.

And third, and certainly not least, is they all came down to a great partnership.  And you heard Satya say it on day one and you’ve heard it from Phil over this conference: Partners are what make us at Microsoft unique.  And we are going to continue to have a significant investment in the people and the programs that support you in doing what you’re doing, both globally and in the field, because at Microsoft we think we can do more than just navigate the bends in the road with you.  We think that together we can own tomorrow.

Thank you.  (Applause.)