From July 8th to 13th we were present at Microsoft Inspire 2017 edition in Washington DC. It was Kaizen Softworks first time at this event (previously named Microsoft World Partner Conference — WPC) and in overall it was great. Let me review some aspects of our experience with our CTO, Rolando Larrainci.
The tickets are at a price that’s not cheap but if you consider that your are going to the only conference in the year where Microsoft will reveal their plans for Partners for the upcoming Fiscal Year, gathering in 2017 18.000+ attendees from companies worldwide with great opportunities around the corner, then the price should seem fair. We bought ours one month and a half before the conference at 1900 USD. Tickets run out pretty fast so I recommend you get yours no later than 1 month before the conference, worth mentioning that the sooner you buy, the cheaper you get it. Next year is in Las Vegas, and tickets are already available for purchase (they start selling next year’s tickets while the current year Inspire is happening!).
You can book your hotel while purchasing your ticket. While the hotels available are really great, the prices range from USD 250 to USD 350 per night per person, rooms available tend to run out pretty fast too. We stayed 9 nights in a really good Airbnb two blocks from the main conference location, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and paid USD 198 per night for two people.
If you decide to stay in one of the hotels that Microsoft offers while purchasing your ticket, you will have a bus coming to your door to take you to the conference locations. If do not stay at one of these hotels, don’t worry, you can still take those buses but have to move to your nearest hotel bus stop.
Microsoft changes the Inspire location every year, this time it was Washington DC where we never been before and it was a really nice choice. The city was nice, we rented a bike each to see the National Mall with all the monuments and The White House, excellent decision and recommended! The conference locations were the huge Walter E. Washington Convention Center, for the keynotes the Verizon Center and for the final party the Nationals Park, all great places.
This is a picture I took of The White House:
Next year: Las Vegas!
I strongly recommend you to check in on Sunday or at the airport when you arrive (you read that right, you can check in at the airport). We delayed our check in to Monday early morning before going to the first Keynote of the conference and it was so crowded that it got us a little delayed for the Keynote, not to mention that line times to check in were pretty slow.
BTW: Microsoft, let all our check in team know exactly which badge cord color goes to each type of attendee, I saw them giving away incorrect colors misleading who was e.g. First Time Attendee or not.
Get. There. Early.
You really want to get a good seat so plan smart and try to be there early. All keynotes were great and if you are First Time Attendee you get the benefit of being in a preferential location, being a couple meters from Satya was awesome! They live stream keynotes and you can watch them online now.
There were hundreds of sessions during the week that allow us to understand even more how Microsoft technologies can help our clients and having the chance to engage in conversations not only with the Microsoft teams behind it but also with other partners who are working with the same is priceless. You can have a glimpse at the session topics at the Microsoft Inspire Session Catalog, but there are different types of sessions and you can have an idea by checking the session types and content areas.
The top 10 sessions of Microsoft Inspire 2017 include topics like Cybersecurity, the Digital Transformation, Azure, the new Commercial Sales Strategy for Partners, Microsoft 365 and more.
This was one of the main aspects of the experience that we were interested in. You could login into the MyInspire web or mobile app, go to the Networking section, Attendee Directory & Connect Meetings and start working to schedule some meetings with potential partners & clients. It’s great as you can filter by Job Category, Competency, Business Focus, Company Size, Country and more to later invite to meet and send messages across the platform. We had several meetings in 3 days and it really worth it.
This is a screenshot of the Microsoft MyInspire Attendee Directory & Connect Meetings Scheduler:
The Expo Hall was a great place where you could connect with exhibitors and sponsors that were showcasing their products and solutions. Other interesting areas were the Regional Lounges where you could connect with partners or even use as point of meeting to receive and chat with partners and potential clients. I just want to add that many if not every booth were giving away swag and we practically had to buy a new luggage to bring everything to Uruguay :)
Final Comments — Why you should go
In summary, we will go again and the reasons are:
- Connect with other partners doing the same as you to learn and exchange ideas with them.
- Meet with potential clients if you find this could be part of your market.
- Learn about Microsoft plans for the new FY.
- Connect with Microsoft teams to build stronger relationships with them.
- The exhibitors SWAG :)
See you in Las Vegas for Microsoft Inspire 2018?
…and remember: always wear your badge!