The time to travel to Toronto for the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference is getting close.

 

 
Around this time each year, the discussions at Applicable turn to the importance of WPC. Spending a week out of the home geography with Microsoft and its partners is a big investment, but we know that WPC is the single best way to take the pulse of the Microsoft ecosystem and determine what is key to Microsoft—and therefore, to its partners—for the coming financial year.
 
Underlining that commitment, we have five people attending this year. Yes, sending that many people is quite an investment. For justification, I would ask how can anyone expect to run a Microsoft partner business without knowing what Microsoft thinks is important, and where they are expecting their partners to place their resources and capabilities for the coming year?
 
It has arguably never been more important to understand Microsoft’s direction than now. I need to return from WPC12 with all key partner questions answered or clarified in order to plan effectively. For me, those questions are all about collaboration, operating systems, and mobile technology in the private and public clouds. That has always been my interest area and is where my responsibilities for partner strategies lie. Microsoft has a great deal lined up for the next twelve months: Surface, Windows Phone, Windows 8, SharePoint, Office, Azure, Skype, Lync, and now Yammer, giving Microsoft an enterprise social media platform.
 
Each of these technologies and their respective roadmaps are individually capable of keeping smaller organisations occupied. During WPC, Microsoft will need to convincingly blend them into a coherent and partner-friendly go-to-market plan for 2012-2013, so that partners—like us—understand the key next steps coming out of the conference, so they can capitalize on these opportunities and survive and prosper in difficult economic times.
 
WPC12 will be a whirlwind of relentless activity with beers, peers, and parties – I’ve already signed up to my first party on Monday night after MPN Live – so it would be easy to treat it as an easy few days abroad on the company dollar. It would be a disservice to you, as well as those who send you, to treat WPC that way. WPC is a unique opportunity to get to the heart and soul of our industry from the point of view of one of its most important leaders. During WPC, you’ll find out everything you need to know about what lies ahead in great detail, the results of the thinking and planning of some of the smartest minds in the industry. My advice is to go to the sessions early, go to all of the ones relevant to you, take notes, get the takeaways, and ask the important questions for your business. You’ll never be nearer to the source. I’m especially interested in what surprises will be revealed in the keynotes. I know from previous WPC events that partners cannot rest on the laurels of previous work, and however challenging it may be, we must continue to reinvent to remain competitive and relevant. I need to hear direction from the executives at Microsoft and then form my own view of how partners might best take advantage of the opportunities presented.
 
 
 
I’ll be live blogging all week on twitter (@nuxnix) and here. I never stop loving the fact that my job involves understanding technology for a living, so expect lots of comments about what I think is good, what needs work, and where I think the smart partners will be investing their time when they get back from Toronto. Please feel free to meet me via WPC Connect in Toronto or just shout out to me on Twitter with your thoughts now, during, and after WPC.
 
Applicable is a Microsoft partner with Gold Messaging and Communications competencies and offices in the UK, Australia, and the US.
– Angus​