Crimson's Weird Weekend Travelling to Microsoft Inspire

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Mark Britton
by Mark Britton 7 July 2017

Crimson’s head of cloud services, Tom Cadman, heads off to Washington DC this weekend in search of the next wave of tech that might change your fortunes.

Microsoft Inspire (previously known as Worldwide Partner Conference) is a strange affair for us Brits that happens each year, mainly in the US and occasionally in Toronto. I’ve been a couple of times before and wonder why Louis Theroux hasn’t covered this weird world yet.

Among the thousands of Microsoft Partners who attend from around the world, you’ll find whooping American ‘fanbois’ with baseball hats covered in pin badges they’ve collected from previous conferences. Polo shirts and chinos are standard issue.

Dancing event teams scattered around the venue chant a conference soundbite as they welcome the crowds. As if the dancing and chants weren’t enough, they attract attention in their brightly coloured branded t-shirts and placards, as they direct visitors towards the conference hall.

The first day starts with speeches from senior Microsoft executives, usually with ‘Vice President’ in their title. As the masses gather to find a seat in the huge conference hall, humungous screens hang from the ceiling and feature promotional videos interspersed with live audience interviews.

One of the fanbois shares how he’s ‘super excited’ about, well, everything, as he confidently grabs the interviewer’s microphone. This is how Americans do conferences and it’s a slick affair carefully orchestrated to turn excitement levels up to eleven.

“It’s part tech conference, part rock concert, part Nuremberg rally”.

You can always tell who the Brits are, as they sceptically observe proceedings with their arms crossed, frazzled and quietly fighting jetlag. I recall one Brit who was sat next to me. He could tell I was a Microsoft conference virgin, overawed with the scale of everything as he remarked, “It’s part tech conference, part rock concert, part Nuremberg rally”.

The big speech comes from Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s popular CEO who has driven lots of change since Steve Ballmer’s departure. Nadella will repeat his vision for Microsoft, reflect on how his vision has come to life over the past year and consider where things go next. Similar to Microsoft’s early days, there is a swagger about Microsoft again. The company has turned a corner now that it has embraced cloud technology.

Over the coming days Tom will move from session to session as he discerns what all the new announcements mean for Crimson’s clients. He’ll be reading between the lines, looking out for what isn’t mentioned and will network with Microsoft teams, as he tests out the new tools displayed on the huge conference floor.

All of Tom’s insight will be distilled into a 30-minute interview I'll be doing with him on Crimson’s next Sleepless CIO Show on Tuesday 1 August. There are some significant changes being introduced for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and we'll be looking closely at developments with machine learning and Internet of Things.

If you’re hungry for innovation and tools that’ll help you get there sooner, I encourage you to sign up now. I promise you there won’t be any dancing, though chinos are optional.

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Topics: Microsoft Dynamics