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Danny:Awesome. Welcome to the Two Bald Brothers And A Microphone.


Tommy:Two Bald Brothers And A Microphone.


Danny:It is … let’s see, it is July 20th. Man, this summer’s going by quickly.




Danny:Yes, it’s amazing. Today we’re going to be talking about the conference that I went to last week, and I’m not going to say ignite , I’m going to say inspire, the Inspire Conference AKA WPC, which was the Worldwide Partner Conference. I went out there … usually, in the past, both of us would go out there, so I missed you, Tom.


Tommy:Well the question is, were you inspired when you left?


Danny:I was inspired. It was a great week. A lot of stuff going on at Microsoft. It’s keeping everybody on their toes and Microsoft, lots of changes coming in place. As part of the week, I tried to do a write-up at the end of the day, so I was just going to walk through my notes here with you and feel free to jump in if you have any questions.


We’re going to start doing some interviews with some outside folks, but I just thought since I went to the conference last week and just to cover with you sort of what were some of the takeaways that I had from the week.




Danny:From the first day, the summary of the first day, one is is that next year … I guess if we go next year, it’s in our favorite place to go to, Las Vegas.


Tommy:Oh, yeah. Everything’s good it’s just slipping on those cards of women, on the sidewalks.


Danny:Yeah. I’m not going to be taking my family out there, but I think they’re wanting to do this because this week, I think Microsoft ready was in Las Vegas, so I think they’re doing it back to back with that conference. Having the partner conference and then their internal conference the week afterward. Microsoft folks will have two weeks in Vegas.


The big thing from the first day was the announcement, and this is sort of a bundling-type of announcement, which was Microsoft 365 plus Windows plus enterprise mobility and security, they’re now calling this Microsoft 365. I just noted that there might need to be a new tag that we have up on our blog, which refers to that.


Tommy:It’s also still staying as Microsoft 365, that doesn’t go away, right?


Danny:You got it, you got it. This is a bundling thing. I think making it … everybody sort of saw this coming, it’s just another way of the 101 ways of packaging Microsoft products and this is just a new way of doing that, so I think the products themselves are pretty much staying the same. It’s just a bundling move.


The other thing, which surprised me … I don’t know whether I just wasn’t paying attention to the news or what it was, but Ron Huddleston, I don’t think we worked with him when we were doing stuff with Salesforce, but he was the person behind the AppExchange, and with our history where we’ve created AppExchange apps, and worked with Salesforce to build a connector, it was good to see him. He’s in charge of what they call their one commercial partner program. Bundling that … or bumbling that one. He’s their Channel Chief, he’s responsible for that. He went through some of the changes with that, sort of set out with the PAM, in with the channel manager. They went through some of what this is going to look like. They’re really trying to … instead of working against what the partners are doing, trying to work more with the partners. It was good to see that focus. It would be great, just my overall experience with working with the AppExchange has been great. To see some of that come over to Microsoft’s stores would be wonderful. I don’t think he’s going to be in charge of those stores, but he did some good stuff over at Salesforce.


I did start seeing … I went to a couple sessions with the LinkedIn, taking a look at what was happening there. You’re starting to see some of the work that they’re doing integrating LinkedIn to Microsoft products. I think just this week they announced there’s a Windows 10 app for LinkedIn and there was a lot of discussions about starting to integrated LinkedIn with Dynamics. It was good to see what they’re doing there and I think they’re trying to use this as a means of competing with Salesforce. It’s interesting to see how that’s going to come along.


This was emphasized time and time again, which is their four solutions areas, which is modern workplace, yay, that’s very much in line with what we’re focusing in on, business applications, applications and infrastructure, and data and AI. That is their overall message of the four main solution areas that Microsoft focuses in on. Again, I think we’re … wonderful to hear that they’re focusing in on that.


Then I love this, there was a 4.5 trillion dollar opportunity. I love things like this. My favorite meme from that was this one. Dux had put this out. You heard it, 4.5 trillion dollars. I got a kick out of that. Then of course, somebody comes up and says for every one dollar we make, you make seven dollars, or something along like that.


Tommy:Sure, right.


Danny:All the partners salivate and move on to the next thing. Mobile first, cloud first, didn’t really hear that very much at this conference.




Danny:It’s now Intelligent Cloud. Intelligent Edge. If you see the overall messaging, as far as how that’s changing, what the updated messaging is for that. Here’s sort of a graphic of how they’re showing that. Multi-device, multi-sense, artificial intelligence … so it’s sort of how this is changing for them.


I think with everybody was sort of how can it be mobile first and cloud first at the same time? Something’s got to be second. Now let’s move to this.




Danny:It was cool seeing women leading up the demos, which was very nice. I think everybody that day, there were all women leading up the demos, which was a very cool thing to see. Feedback from the day … oh, man it was hot outside. I took a picture here of everybody waiting outside. I don’t know what had happened that morning, but for like an hour up to … it just didn’t seem like they were letting people into the Verizon Center and it was … it got hot really quick, as it gets hot in D.C.


So that’s the update from the first day. Then if we take a look at what happened on the second day … sorry, I always get caching issues with my computer here. Summary of day two. I took a quick snapshot of here, digital transformation … I think what they’re trying to get to, more of, is moving on, because you heard digital transformation over and over and over again. You’re trying to get … basically define what does that mean? Empower employees, optimize operations, transform products, and engage customers. This was a screenshot that I took from Chris Capossela session that he did. It was really neat because he sort of said, “Well what does this mean to our marketing department at Microsoft?” He went through real cases of what does this mean to us and how did this change what we’re doing inside of Microsoft, what’s the transformation that we’re seeing inside of Microsoft. Because he can say each one of these can apply to each department. It can apply to finance, it can apply to customer service. So it’s sort of translating this over to that specific department.


It was really good. You and I like to … we understand there has to be a high level message, but then how do you translate that down to your individual department and initiatives inside of that department. Wish I had a dollar each time this was covered today, four pillars of digital transformation, this came pretty clear: engaging customers, empower employees, optimize operations, and transform products. Then I sort of was thinking … this was one of those things where I wish you were around, because afterwards I want to think out loud with it. It was part of the reasoning I wanted to take notes on this, was so you and I could have this conversation, which is how does this fit into how we categorize solutions? If you look at our website, how does this fit into the different solutions like improved bottom line, drive efficiency, satisfy end users to manage risk. Looking at these, sort of like … how do these different things map into this?


We can take the approach of, we sort of want to … We want to align with Microsoft, so we want to look at what they’re going out to market with and be in line with that, but we also want to have our unique take on this as well. It’s just trying to look and see well maybe for using the language as somebody who’s going and getting the message from Microsoft, we want them to … for it to be consistent what they’re hearing from us as well. Along with the consistency, they want a unique perspective as well.


You and I have talked about this, which is industry focus and Microsoft is wanting to … they’re taking a look at all the different industries that are out there. They are reorganizing underneath these industries, which is financial services, manufacturing, retail, education, health, and government. Everyone in Microsoft is organizing to these verticals. Was interesting, again, sort of my take on this was … We have a success portion of the site where we look at the different industries that we’ve helped out. Our list is more expansive than Microsoft’s, which tells me maybe I’m going after too broad of a list, but I think it’s interesting that they’re only … and this is probably a part of the strategy, is let’s go after the big industry and recognizing that internally we are not going to be about to go after and build expertise in every industry out there, so what are the ones we want to focus on first?


Tommy:Yeah, I think for us, we look at sure point as a platform and we see that from a horizontal perspective it solves problems in these different industries and not necessarily having an industry practice that we have depth of knowledge of everything that has to deal with, say, financial services, insurance. We don’t hire insurance agents and financial service consultants. We’re helping people realize the platform against problems and the spaces, and so if you look at this from an industry perspective, it’s more of trying to understand well, how do my problems map to the platform? That’s our approach, for better or for worse, we’re trying to speak to the people that we can serve. At the end of the day, we’re not coming to them with a final solution for their space, but a lot of people need to have a knowledge base across these different industries and what does that look like in the high tech, in ISV, versus financial services and insurance?




Tommy:I love the case studies that we have that kind of put skin on that, versus it being kind of a generic marketing term.


Danny:Yep, absolutely. Went and had a conversation today … Microsoft had a bunch of booths set up for their partners and one of them was for the go to market campaigns. He had me fill out … go through this survey of what things you’re doing from a marketing standpoint and I was able to check off all of them. By the end of it, he was like, “Well, you just need to hire more people in your marketing department,” and I was like, “Oh that’s nice, thanks.” Thanks so much. We are trying to leverage as much as we can out of Microsoft and really try to see where … making sure we’re trying to do the right things from a marketing standpoint. It was good to meet up with him and to hear that some of … It was interesting, because some of the stuff that come out that morning as far as go to market things, they’re not up to date on their own site with. There’ll be the campaigns that they’ll be coming out with in the near future.


FastTrack booth. I wanted to go drop by there and give them the recent project work that we’ve done with FastTrack. It was very much in line with what they were saying is using FastTrack is a part of a migration to utilize their resources. As part of it, you own the client relationship and fill in where it needs to get filled in. The guy was interested to hear, I think, I shared more than he shared with me, but that was good to hear that they were not trying to compete with us, they’re just trying to augment our services.


Was a great presentation. There was a partner about co-selling with Microsoft, it was very honest and forthright conversation. Points from her were understand the account team motivations and fears. She brought up an interesting thing where she was like in a large account, she brought Microsoft in and where it helped her was she sold a departmental solution and Microsoft was able to take that departmental solution and to sell it to other departments. So basically saying you’ve built up … We’ve seen this in some large accounts where you build out a calendaring solution or a knowledge-based solution. One department uses it and sort of taking it to other departments. She said Microsoft was very helpful once they understood what type of solution that we created, or that they had created that they could replicate it across different departments. Just made the points of asking for account lists and target only a handful of companies, so don’t try to go after every company that they’re targeting, just look for a couple of wins.


Favorite session of the day was the Chris Capossela. Gave practical examples of using the four pillars of digital transformation. He pointed out, which was interesting, was this Microsoft Education site and he said this was a big move for him, which is the branding is now moving for them behind just Microsoft. I was sort of thinking of that and the way that we brand ThreeWill and you can see what it is now, is it’s Microsoft Education. He said this was a big change for them to move over to this and focusing in on empowering the students of today to create the world of tomorrow. More focused in on the idea of solutions for education and less of technology for technology sake.


I think we’ll start to see … it was interesting to see this as well, so they have a broken out by role type, so school leaders, educators, students. We’re trying to do a bit of that when you go up to success and trying to spell out for your role, sort of what case studies make sense for your role.


Metalogix party was the second night. The first night I went to a Nintex party, second was Metalogix. They had branded maracas, which was fun. It was good to see the team from Metalogix. Everybody was there. Their headquarters is in D.C., so pretty much everybody from the headquarters was there.


Here’s some links that I had run into of resources from Microsoft. Lines were better but I think that’s because fewer people were there and then got some great socks.




Danny:For you and your-


Tommy:I got them on today.


Danny:I would kick my foot up in here. I’ve got them on too. I can’t get it up high enough. I’ve got mine on today. You’ve got yours on. Can you do it? I think I pulled something. Okay, there you go. Then someone else has some too, right Oliver? You didn’t wear … Oliver didn’t wear them today. He was not going to come in today because he didn’t have any socks.


Oliver:I did wear them yesterday


Danny:And you did wear them yesterday.




Danny:You put them on yesterday?


Oliver:Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Danny:Okay, cool. We’ve all … we’ve got matching socks here. We’ve got Windows socks.


Let me plug back in. Okay, there we go.


Third day. Number three.


Tommy:This was a three day event?


Danny:Yep, and the final day was just … Thursday was a regional … just regional updates. It was a half a day regional thing.


Tommy:Yeah, I remember that.


Danny:This was a partner opportunities in the connected workplace, so there was sort of … this is one of the presentations that I attended. Some of the things that they felt like were opportunity-wise … Buzz word of the day, single pane of … sometimes you pick up on something that people keep saying and you’re like okay, if I hear this one more time … Of course I had to say … by the way, you’re reading this blog post on a single pane of glass, because I’m a smarty. Yes, it’s expected, vision keynote. They ended up shutting down the whole top section because there weren’t enough people there.


Keynote was covered by Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer. It was a strong emphasis on the GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation, which takes effect in May 2018. He covered just some blog post and resources on that, just saying how that’s going to impact the partner ecosystem.


Then there was Gavriella Schuster covered more changes to the partner program. It was a honest … shared some stories about why they changed it, some back stories on that. Really focused in on recognizing that they need … inside of Microsoft, need someone who’s in what I would classify as like a connector type of role. Someone who’s listening to all of the different things that partners are doing and looking inside of Microsoft and making the right connections up. There’s certain people who are great at doing that. I think they’ve recognized that that is a role that they need to have.


Then there was a discussion with Ian Bremmer about the current status of world politics, which I’m just tired of hearing … about politics. Of course I joke around, I would love to have … I needed somebody that morning, like you’ve got everybody coming in on the third day and we’re going to talk politics. But I was hoping somebody like Tony Robbins or somebody would get us up out of our seat and just getting us jump around, pop … pumped up was what I was looking for. It was fine. I think it was just a conversation. It was interesting to see this with a world group around talking politics. I’m sure it led to some interesting conversations afterward, but nothing I wanted to talk about.


We went over to the BindTuning booth. IT was good. Saw them, it was good to meet up with a couple of their engineer folks. Talked to Microsoft rep about the p-seller program we’ve looked into this a long time ago. I’m not sure if it’s going to be an investment of our time that we want to go into.


Mike Genetti had a couple of good presentations that I went to. One was this mix, which was a recording application that snaps into PowerPoint and another snip for office … for osis. It’s a nice little screen capture thing that I’ve already started using that I really like.


Then Skype meeting broadcasts, which I still need to investigate a little bit closer. I was actually going to see if we could use that for this, but was getting some errors so I just … you know me, I’ve got about this much leeway … tolerance for an … I need something. It’s still … it’s interesting to look at. It’s available to all Microsoft 365 tenants.




Danny:Yeah, take a peek at that. I set up a test meeting this morning. This is for more of the larger broadcast types of things.


Tommy:Yeah, GoToMeeting has been kind of problematic for me.


Danny:Has it?


Tommy:The past couple months. I’m interested in potentially going to Skype or JoinMe to … further simply our tool set.


Danny:Yep. I think it’s one of those things. What’s key is some of these products are enterprise grade and so it takes a little bit more setup to get them ready.




Danny:Just the size that we are as a company, sometimes we just need a turnkey thing, which is why we do things like GoToMeeting or Dropbox or whatever.


Attended a session on the partnership with Adobe. This was one … I don’t know if you’ve known Microsoft Strategy with Dynamics has been … to say that sort of their marketing cloud version of what Salesforce has is to work with Adobe. They have an integration. They’re starting to integrate LinkedIn more with Dynamics. I’m just keeping an eye on this. I’m sort of interested to see how this progresses. I had some conversations with some of the Adobe folks about there is no … this is for enterprise customers, so it’s not … this is not like something we would use. Just wanted to keep my eye on this since we got some expertise in Salesforce and what not.


Then I went to-


Tommy:Yeah, it’s interesting with Dynamics, it just seems like they’re not getting over the hump there. We’re not in that space so we’re probably not getting a good pulse of it, but you would think by now they would’ve been further entrenched into the …


Danny:Yeah, I don’t know. We’re not … we don’t deal with customers, talk to customers day to day about Dynamics like we do with Microsoft 365, so I don’t know what to say.




Danny:With us, it’s … I think because we’re not experts in Dynamics, we don’t … heaven forbid I say this, we’re not using it internally. It’s one of those I just want to keep an eye on it and see how the things progress along. We’re busy enough with what we profess to be experts in that I know you can say, “Danny, just stop it. Just let it go. We’re busy enough.”


Great session from Dan Holme on SharePoint and what’s coming. Communication sites. It is available on our tenant, so I’ve already … the marketing site is now.


Tommy:Communication site.


Danny:Using new web parts, like the news web part. Difference between Yammer and Teams. He was pointing this out because I have a feeling everybody’s going through the same thing that we’re going through, which is what … you’ve thrown all these things against the wall and not sure which ones you’re expecting us to use for what situation. Of course, when you hear presentation, it’s like oh … people use what they need to use for their particular … that serves their particular purposes. It’s tough because I think there is a lot of just … people not sure what to use.


Let me just go through sort of what his message was, which is Yammer has crossed company discussions for large groups, is basically what he’s pointing out, based on interest topic and Teams are for … well, teams, smaller groups. I think for us, probably the reason why I have problems internally, is we’re a smaller company, so it’s like do you really need to have Yammer outside of Teams, is an interest topic group. We’re doing cross-department collaboration. We’re not that big. I think for larger organizations, that’s … it sort of goes across departments, it goes across … it’s more by, as he says, interest or topic, but for us, I don’t know how much more value we’re going to get. I think for us we’re making the decision internally that let’s cut down on the number of different ways we’re collaborating and if we can do it all on Teams, let’s do it all on Teams.


Tommy:Yeah, and we ended up creating the one team having different channels for those interest topics that go across the company, and then the rest of the Teams are kind of the smaller purpose bill team getting work done. On Teams.


Danny:I think I asked you about the status update and I was just thinking of … my thought was, just to explain further, was Yammer, you just put a status update, this is what I’m working on. I was just thinking in Teams, I guess I was trying to translate that over to, if we’re not using Yammer, where would I do this inside of Teams? Not really knowing like do I put this up in our café? It just seemed like that wouldn’t be appropriate thing for me to do. I could update my Skype status and put what I’m working on there, but I don’t think anybody sees that.


Tommy:Well I guess what’s the purpose of creating that status update?


Danny:What you’re up … for somebody who wants to know what you’re up to. Sort of a general Danny’s working on this or it’s sort of one of those … it’s a … what’s the word that I’m looking for? It’s just sort of … when you know what-


Tommy:Thinking out loud?


Danny:Thinking out loud and just sometimes people will like … I saw real quickly that Danny’s working on this, I’ve been thinking about that as well. How do you find out about those things if you’re not sharing it through some way. The serendipity of sharing what you’re working on.


Tommy:Yeah, and I look at it as, okay, what am I working on and what domain does that apply to? And finding the right channel to share information. You run across something that this is kind of cool, let me share it with the team or put it in the technology channel. Maybe there’s something that I want to share that’s kind of on the lighter side, so we’ve got a lighter side channel.


I mean, there could be a “what am I doing” channel. Maybe that would serve a purpose. Maybe there’s something that comes out of that. Of course, you don’t necessarily want to share “this is what I’m having for breakfast” type post.


Danny:No, that’s not … it’s more of what are you working on, basically.


Tommy:Yeah, yeah. I think if it’s a technology or marketing or whatever that domain is, you put it in that Team. I think we have quite a few teams to be landing spots for those types of ideas.


Danny:Yep, so if I’m working on something marketing then just to post something up as a discussion in the marketing group. That makes sense to me. Yeah, that makes sense.


Tommy:To be technical, it’s a conversation in a channel, so … yeah. It’s so interesting how many ways you can communicate. Blows your mind.


Danny:He confirmed that there was one team per company client. I think we came to that same conclusion, he just … I overheard him mentioning that. It sounded like that came up quite a bit, where people were saying-


Tommy:One team per what? I’m sorry.


Danny:Per client. Like per customer.


Tommy:Okay, for external teams?


Danny:For external … yeah, for external teams, or … actually, I don’t even know if it was external teams.




Danny:It might’ve been sales, internal discussions, but he just said … he mentioned that, so I just took note to that because I think we were trying to figure out is it team per … we went through a couple of iterations of what we were thinking, how do we want to set this up, is it a channel, is it a team, or how do we want to do this?




Danny:Confirmed that they’re building many of the features that companies want in a modern internet, it just … takes some time. This puts SharePoint in a box products on a foot race to outpace Microsoft. I’m just thinking, probably one of them wants to be bought by Microsoft, I assume. I think that’s really interesting, because there are a lot of options that are out there, especially from service-based companies trying to come up with a product. I was talking to somebody this morning about this and they’re like … communication sites came out and some of these things like the news web part, which is a new thing, and there’s now overlap between that and what a lot of SharePoint in a box products are doing.


Now they’ve got to re-architect their stuff and it’s like … I don’t want to be in a foot race with the SharePoint team. Especially it’s a product that is constantly going to … iterating and coming out quicker, quicker. It’s interesting to see that. In fact, I’m going to, for next week I’m going to have Sam Marshall, assuming everything lines up okay. He was one of the guys from Clearbox who did that SharePoint in a box report. Because I want to talk to … I just want to dig into this a little bit further with him to see what he’s seeing and sort of seeing what … I think next week he’s doing some webinar on communication sites, so I want to just check in with him to see what’s going on.


Further integration with Flow, so you have the workflow piece of this that’s coming along, slowly but surely, and then building apps, PowerApps. Again, things for us that great to see them coming down the pipe. I think stuff that our customers going to be asking for and it’s just a matter of when do we start using these, when does it get to the point where it’s something feasible for us to be doing on projects? Much smarter people are working on this than me.


Tommy:Yes. Yeah, making sure it’s not the next input bath for our customers too.


Danny:That’s true. That’s true.


Tommy:Seeing if it has the right longevity and extensibility.


Danny:Yep. I have gone really long on this, but you’re up to date.




Danny:You are now officially up to date.


Tommy:Thanks, Danny.


Danny:Absolutely and we’ll get together next week and we’ll do this with a … hopefully having a third person on here as well. Thanks for taking the time to do this.


Tommy:Yeah, looking forward to that.


Danny:Thanks for letting me go out to the Partner Conference, that was fun.


Tommy:Sure, absolutely.


Danny:Thank you to everybody for listening, have a great day. Bye-bye.





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