In last month's CRN magazine, we spoke to Philip Goldie about how his team was working to transform APC into the “premier business conference for partners in Australia”. In the second part of the discussion, we look at some of the changes coming to this year’s event.
What are some of the biggest changes this year?
I would call out the format. APC is changing the typical session-style format. We will have the same sessions and keynotes but augment them with two session types.
‘In Conversation’ sessions will feature senior Microsoft executives, industry thought leaders and keynote speakers in a more intimate environment. Think a roundtable with 10-15 people, a closed door conversation with domain experts where you can dig into another level. Those will be people like Pip Marlow, our managing director, Tiffani Bova from Gartner, and speaker Naomi Simson [founder of Red Balloon and judge on TV program Shark Tank].
The second format is what we are calling ‘Masterclasses’, which are designed to help partners answer the question, ‘What is it specifically that I am going to do next?’ They are 90 minutes and also a smaller format. We will again use the keynote speakers and experts to build out a specific plan around the content areas. Then we will allow partners to sit down with the marketing experts and put those in and come away with a set of action or full blown plans.
Both of those are only available once you register for APC, so my big encouragement is to register as soon as possible because we expect them to book out. They are included in the ticket price.
Will there be any changes to the Microsoft Australia Partner Awards?
We have reduced the overall number of awards that will be represented. We tried to be very thoughtful of how to make them represent the big industry trends, rather just traditional competency models.
We have introduced new awards around marketing, and also industry and platform innovation, where partners can showcase industry-specific solutions they have built on the Microsoft platform. We have a new award category called ‘Winning Together’ to showcase where they are partnering with each other to deliver great customer outcomes.
The other major change is that every single award is anchored very clearly in a customer success story.
What kinds of new partners do you expect to see at APC?
There are a lot of new partners coming into the market, so a plethora of net new partners will be coming to APC for the first time. About a quarter of registrations are from new attendees and new partners. We are also seeing a lot of interest for partners who have perhaps used other vendors’ technology and are now looking to complement their current offer
with Microsoft technology.
And then there are new types of partners: partners focused on BI and big data and digital agencies working with ISV partners like Sitecore. That just adds to the richness of APC.
If you look over the past 12 months, there has been so much of M&A activity and a lot of partners tell me that APC has been a catalyst for those to form. CRN has covered a lot of
those deals this year and a lot of those partnerships are born embryonically at conferences like APC.
Exclusive sessions at APC
This year, a select few guests will have the option to attend some exclusive sessions with heavy-hitting speakers from across the IT industry. Microsoft Australia managing director Pip Marlow will host a discussion, as will director of SMS&P David Gage and special guest Naomi Simson, founding director of online gift seller RedBalloon
Another speaker is Tiffani Bova, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner, whose presentation on the future of IT sales at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference was one of the highlights of the event.
CRN editor Steven Kiernan will also host three sessions covering some of the major business trends impacting the Australian IT channel. With some of the industry’s biggest players, he will investigate the reality of M&A, from both the perspectives of the acquired company and the acquirer. He will also dig into the topic of partnering with other partners, to work out best practice.
Register at http://partner.microsoft.com.au/APC2015-Sessions
CRN is a media partner of Microsoft Australia Partner Conference 2015