Channel partner events, Channel chiefs, Channel partner programs

Microsoft Renames Worldwide Partner Conference (Um, Why?)

Microsoft Channel Chief Gavriella Schuster
Gavriella Schuster

Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference is now called Microsoft Inspire. Channel Chief Gavriella Schuster announced the change in a blog post ahead of Inspire's July 2017 gathering in Washington, D.C. I respect Schuster and her partner commitment. But I don't think the name change is worth Microsoft's time, energy and branding dollars.

Think about it this way: Thousands of partners know the conference by its old acronym (WPC). And the old, full name accurately described the conference. Plus, thousands of Web pages and social updates -- written by partners, vendors, customers, media and Microsoft -- are SEOed around #WPC or Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. Now the world will start anew, SEOing around Microsoft Inspire.

Regardless of the name, Microsoft's partner conference faces a far different challenge. Yes, partners are widely embracing Office 365. And now, Microsoft is evangelizing Azure partner training -- even to MSPs that support Amazon Web Services.

But there's also a crowd that has stopped attending WPC. Some MSPs, in particular, lost faith in the company a few years ago because Microsoft kept introducing new products (i.e., Surface) without any managed services opportunities and limited partner opportunities... Amid those challenges, Microsoft should spend every free moment and every free dollar developing marketing and sales programs for partners — rather than rebranding a well-known, established conference.

But like I said up top: I respect Schuster. I think she's been pushing the right partner program buttons in recent months -- striving to educate partners about recurring revenue opportunities atop Azure, which is far different than reselling Office 365.

Will I be inspired to attend Inspire? That remains to be seen... regardless of the conference name.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.