Microsoft is upping the channel ante in New Zealand as resellers prepare to sign off on 2016, outlining the routes to future success through its upcoming NZ Partner Connect 2016 conference in Auckland.
Featuring a day of headline keynotes and informative sessions, the standalone channel event is the first of its kind in New Zealand, highlighting the expanding opportunities for partners in 2017 and beyond.
“As the largest Microsoft New Zealand partner event on the calendar, Partner Connect is meant to foster partnership and stimulate innovative ideas,” Microsoft New Zealand director of Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partner Group, Brent Kendrick, said.
“It’s also designed to create a collaborative environment where you can network, explore your business strategies, and engage in highly productive discussions with like-minded people, including the Microsoft Partner team.”
Kendrick said core themes this year are based around Digital Transformation; The Modern Microsoft Partner; Microsoft’s Three Bold Ambitions; The Power of Partnering and Maximising your Microsoft partnership.
Set for November 11 at The Pullman Hotel, Kendrick said tickets are still currently on sale for the event, which targets the entire Microsoft channel in New Zealand.
“Whether your company is big or small, NZ Partner Connect is for every Microsoft New Zealand partner,” Kendrick told Reseller News.
“Whether you’re a value-added reseller, a managed service provider, a project services company, or an ISV who is building your own solutions on the Microsoft platform, this conference is relevant to you.
“Unlike Ignite Microsoft NZ, Partner Connect is not specifically geared toward a technical audience.
“Rather, it focuses on valuable content for business owners and directors, sales specialists, BDMs, marketing professionals, and any customer-facing roles within your organisation.”
Running for the third consecutive year, Kendrick said NZ Partner Connect is branching out and becoming a stand-alone partner event, no longer tied to Microsoft Ignite New Zealand.
“Based on feedback from our partner ecosystem, regarding availability, cost, and wanting to send more people along, we decided to go for an event that is one day and gives attendees a more time-efficient, intensive experience that will be useful and inspirational,” Kendrick said.
Billed as the New Zealand version of Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, Kendrick said the event is useful for any Kiwi partner unable to travel to Toronto in July, providing a solid grounding in the core themes of the vendor’s flagship global conference.
Backed by a blend of overseas external and internal speakers, Thought Expansion Network founder, Jonathan MacDonald, will headline the conference, advising the channel on how to “drive game-changing transformation in an age of perpetual change”.
In addition, Sigmoid Curve Consulting Group managing director, Dr. Harold Hillman, will keynote on the topic of “being your authentic self”, drawing on his career in the US Military and the HR director at Fonterra.
Furthermore, a host of Microsoft speakers - both locally and globally - will provide insight into utilising the benefits of cloud, while developing strategic business models for ongoing success in the channel.
New Zealand channel
Kendrick said the event coincides with “tremendous growth” in the vendor’s Cloud Solutions Provider programme, as partners across the country continue to embrace cloud.
“We are looking to grow it by way of number of partners participating, but also continue to use the CSP programme as a vehicle for getting solutions into the market and to partners,” Kendrick added.
“That is, partners can use the CSP as the transactional vehicle.”
In light of continued cloud growth, Microsoft is also launching a new initiative in New Zealand as part of a global Microsoft investment, entitled the Practice Development Unit.
As explained by Kendrick, there are two PDU teams; one for Azure workloads and the other for voice.
“The Azure team will solely focus on enabling partners to build practices around Azure and its four core workloads: Cloud Infrastructure, Data Platform and Analytics, Application Development, Enterprise Mobility Suite & Security,” Kendrick added.
“The voice-specific PDU team will work with partners interested in PBX replacement and full Internet based telephony solutions.
“Essentially, we’re on the hunt for a list of partners that we will engage with on this as an intense programme.
“It requires deep CEO commitment from partners, and involves marketing and co-selling opportunities, as well as training and practice development.”
Delving deeper, Kendrick said Microsoft has also launched globally the Partner University - a free, online, on-demand courses for partners’ training and capability enablement resource.
“Here in New Zealand, one of our core objectives is to maximise the utilisation of this fundamental training tool as a core benefit of the Microsoft Partner Network, so I encourage channel partners to check it out,” he added.
For Kendrick, “huge customer appetite” to leverage the cloud is driving adoption across the country, creating pockets of opportunity for partners to capitalise as a result.
“With such a low number of customers currently cloud optimised, there is a push for maturity which clearly signals some real opportunities for partners to help,” he added.
“The world is on the verge of the fourth industrial revolution, which is driven by the automation and augmentation of knowledge-based work.
“Data analytics, machine learning, bots, mixed reality - technology is evolving, and insight is the new currency, natural language is the new interface and artificial intelligence (AI) is the way of the future.
“Microsoft is going to make sure we are on the leading edge of this fourth revolution, and we will work with our customers and partners to help them deliver digital transformation to the New Zealand economy.”