“We are in the empowerment business.” Satya Nadella said it in his keynote address, and the Convergence conference centered around this message. From announcements about the Power BI preview to the spring release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Convergence 2015 was all about giving individuals, companies, and industries the power to achieve more – a lot more. We sent a member of our team (me) to Convergence to get the partner perspective from the conference, and here are some of the key takeaways I learned that can hopefully help you and your customers do more.
Data matters
Business challenge: Many customers feel they’re drowning in data, and they need your expertise and your solutions to help them understand and act on the data they have. The Internet of Things (IoT) is awesome, there’s no doubt about it. If knowledge is power, then big data combined with cloud can make knowledge superheroes of us all. But those zettabytes of data must be put to use to be valuable, and this is where partners have real opportunity to serve your customers and set your businesses up for sustainable success.
Strategic solutions: You can help customers take the next steps to use systems of intelligence to transform their businesses. Microsoft Azure Stream Analytics can help your customers process the flood of incoming data from their “things,” making it possible for them to predict trends and automate service and responses. The Azure IoT Suite simplifies deployment and makes solutions scalable as customers add more “things” over time. Add the security of Windows 10 for Internet of Things, and you have enterprise-grade security and connectivity for a diverse set of IoT devices. The dashboards and reports from Power BI give customers a chance to explore their data visually and share resulting insights internally and with customers.
Customers care about the experience
Business challenge: Your customers want to provide their customers with the best possible experience and engagement. Senior level executives aren’t making buying decisions solely on cost or latest-and-greatest-tech excitement – they’re much more interested in how they can provide excellent experiences.
Strategic solutions: Help with customer engagement comes with the spring release of Dynamics CRM 2015, including Microsoft Social Engagement. This powerful new tool enables your customers – right from their Dynamics CRM or Office 365 application – to hear and respond to conversation across social channels. Not only can you provide your customers with the ability to engage, you can also leverage this tool in your business, giving your customers both excellent engagement and first-hand experience with the tool that helps make it happen. Ready to use Dynamics CRM internally? Check the Internal Use Rights page in MPN to see if your membership entitles you to CRM Online IUR.
Connectivity and collaboration are key
Business challenge: Connectivity and collaboration are essential in the modern workplace. How do we provide users with the information they want, where and when they want it? And how do we make it easy to share and work with other stakeholders?
Strategic solutions: Office Delve and Skype for Business have the potential to fundamentally change a work place. Wouldn’t your customer love it if the document he needed showed up in his inbox? Or if she discovered someone on a parallel workstream whose knowledge could complement her own? Delve’s machine learning techniques find relevant documents, conversations, and connections – and makes them discoverable. And once your customer has found that great person or team, they can jump on Skype for Business for a video collaboration experience based on the familiar Skype interface.
During the Convergence keynote, Satya Nadella and Kirill Tatarinov highlighted several stories illustrating how customers are successfully leveraging Microsoft technology to grow businesses, streamline processes, and create excellent customer experiences, including:
  • Marstons, a UK-based pub and brewery, uses Microsoft Social Engagement to listen to and engage with customers all over the world to provide better customer experiences.
  • Global giant Rockwell Automation tames its asset data through a custom dashboard built on Azure IoT services. 
  • Pandora, which seeks to be the most recognized and loved jewelry brand in the world, uses Dynamics CRM to get customer data and metrics to “get it right.”
  • Customer AccuWeather uses big data and the Microsoft cloud to save lives by providing critical information to people in over 200 countries and in more than 100 languages. Listen to the keynote to hear the incredible story of the tornado and the trains!
  • WASH Laundry has built a world-class customer service, technology and logistics company – and according to internal metrics, realized a 40% improvement in productivity since implementing Microsoft solutions.
Provide full-circle solutions through partnerships
Of course, it’s not just your customers who are looking for solutions in this changing industry – we know you face challenges as well. Fortunately, this idea of “empowering business” includes you too:
Partner challenge: Microsoft is driving business with the power of technology and modern business applications – technology and applications your customers need you to help them build, buy, deploy, and maximize. Instead of single products, customers expect end-to-end solutions – which can be tough for a single partner to provide.
Partner solution: Fortunately, you are a part of the Microsoft Partner Network, meaning you have access to thousands of partners whose skill sets and solutions complement your own. Leverage one of the most valuable benefits you have by building relationships with partners to win more business. Find other partners through Connect, Pinpoint, and the premier partner conference, WPC.
Valuable post event resources
Challenge: You weren’t able to make it to every session you wanted to attend. Or perhaps you weren’t able to make it to Convergence 2015 at all.
Solution: View sessions and download presentations through the Schedule Builder – this tool continues to be your best resource for accessing information post-event. You can watch Convergence sessions on-demand, as well as access session PowerPoints (Schedule Builder is available to full-conference attendees only).
Schedule Builder continues to be your best resource for accessing information post-event. You can watch Convergence sessions on-demand, as well as access session PowerPoints (Schedule Builder is available to full-conference attendees only).
If you or your customers were not able to make it to the event, we encourage you to take advantage of the Convergence Video Library. This site allows visitors to watch sessions on-demand, and it also includes session recordings from past Convergence events as well.  Please note that session PowerPoints are only available to paid, full-conference attendees only.
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