Microsoft partners and a senior Redmond executive were united in their praise for the software giant’s first local partner conference and awards.
The event, Microsoft Partner Connectionz, was held in Auckland last month and attracted 475 attendees, including Microsoft staff and exhibitors.
A black tie dinner where Microsoft dished out its inaugural New Zealand partner awards meanwhile drew 335 people, including Peter Boit vice-president for Microsoft’s enterprise partners.
Boit was so impressed with the event he now wants to encourage other Microsoft subsidiaries to host their own partner conferences and awards.
“It is important to recognise excellence – everyone likes to be recognised. I will be encouraging leaders of subsidiaries around the world to host similar events.”
He was also impressed with the enthusiasm local partners displayed for the awards, which attracted 76 entries in 12 categories.
For Microsoft partners Connectionz was a success because it offered a good amount of localised content, which had been lacking at the joint Australia/New Zealand partner conference the company used to host up to last year.
The conference provided a more relevant set of content for local partners, says Axon partner alliance manager Adam Hall.
“It was great to see Microsoft run a local version of the partner conference. This [provided] the opportunity for local people to deliver the sessions. The content delivered met and in some cases exceeded expectations.”
Separating the event from the Australian conference made it more relevant to the local market, says Mason Pratt, managing director of Provoke Solutions, which won the overall Partner Solution of the Year award and Business Productivity Solution of the Year award.
Pratt agrees the conference had good local content, but adds he would like to see more international speakers and more in depth discussions into local issues next year.
“Perhaps the organisers could look at a more exotic location than the Auckland CBD,” he adds, suggesting Queenstown, Taupo or Australia’s Gold Coast, where previous ANZ partner conferences were held.
However, Allan Maclean, managing director of Maclean Computing, prefers having the conference here, as it enables local companies to send more delegates.
“Having the conference in New Zealand was an absolute winner. We were able to get eight people along. It was a significant investment, but it was worth it.”
The value of the event was for employees to gain a clear understanding of the Microsoft message, says Maclean.
The conference and awards evening were also great networking opportunities, which can lead to alliances amongst Microsoft partners, he adds.
“It gets us out of our comfort zones and talking to each other. Partnerships can come out of that, which you may not have seen otherwise. That has to be good for the industry.”
Microsoft partner group manager Nick Fletcher agrees Connectionz was a success, but is already looking at how to fine-tune the event for next year.
“Over the next couple of weeks we will be looking over evaluation forms for the event to see how we can grow it. What we really need is to get more partners to come next year.”