Caiman Goes to Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference

Photo of Ross Cook

At Caiman Consulting, we put a lot of pride in our status as a Microsoft Partner, and one of the highlights of our year is attending Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference. This year the conference was held in Houston, and due to our outstanding experience last year at WPC 2012, we decided to double our delegation to this year's WPC to four.

WPC serves a dual purpose for us. On one hand, it gives us a tremendous opportunity to talk to Microsoft leaders, raise awareness of who we are and what we do, and discuss how we can partner together to deliver value to our customers using Microsoft's technologies. On the other hand, we also come ready to learn. Attending WPC is a terrific way to learn about the ongoing evolution of Microsoft's strategy and roadmap.

This year, the conference was abuzz with talk of the recent Microsoft move to become a "Services and Devices Company". It was clear to us that Microsoft is aware of the intense competition but believe they have a compelling story to win in the marketplace - they have a much more complete vision and solution than other players in the cloud, services, devices, and collaboration segments (including Google). Their recent acquisitions (notably Nokia, Skype and Yammer) make great strategic sense - these products are integrated into Microsoft's vision and are already creating massive synergy with Microsoft's existing portfolio.

Microsoft recognizes that we are moving into a new age where employees want to connect to the corporate network with multiple devices. They want to connect quickly, from anywhere, using any device, and with a single sign-on. Balancing security with ease-of-access is difficult, but Microsoft is well positioned to address this challenge through its Active Directory services and enhancements to products such as Windows Server and System Center. At WPC we learned a lot about how Microsoft's products often fulfill a "traffic cop" role between corporate IT assets and more consumer-focused devices such as phones and tablets.

A topic on everyone's mind at WPC was Enterprise Social. We talked to numerous other partners who are being asked constantly by their customers' CIOs about how social media can be leveraged in the corporate environment in a way that will increase productivity at a low cost. Microsoft is well-positioned here, both with social components in many of its top enterprise products like Dynamics and SharePoint, and also with the acquisition of Yammer, the leader in Enterprise Social.  In the year since being bought by Microsoft, Yammer has increased their user base by over 55%, with year-over-year sales nearly tripled!

There have been a lot of headlines around perceived weaknesses in Microsoft's consumer strategy, and it's certainly true that some products like the Surface RT have not been as successful as they hoped. From WPC though, it was very clear that Microsoft has a winning hand when it comes to the enterprise market. The products and services that are most important to CIOs aren't always the ones grabbing the headlines on tech blogs, but they are the real engines driving the company forward. We very much appreciated the chance to participate in WPC and look forward to applying our new-found insights to our client engagements.