- Larry Gregory
Making the Most of Inspire 2020
Microsoft Inspire is the annual kickoff event for the Microsoft partner ecosystem. This year it is a free, virtual conference with some familiar elements:
Keynotes from Microsoft executives on product enhancements and channel programs
Breakout sessions diving into specific product and program details
Partner to partner networking
Opportunities to meet with Microsoft executives
Recognition of Microsoft Partner of the Year award winners
While no one will miss standing in the heat to access the keynote arena 😊, we lose key elements due to the virtual nature of the event:
Expo featuring Microsoft product groups and partner exhibits
In-person partner-to-partner networking opportunities
Area and industry networking events
Partner-sponsored evening events and the Partner Celebration concert
Digital Transformation Academy kickoff (with US sales teams)
Enterprise Partner and Managed ISV side meeting
Structured matchmaking events (IoT and P2P speed dating)
Conference sessions will occur July 21-22. Sessions (excluding the 2 keynotes) are 30 minutes long, with 15-minute breaks between them. Popular sessions are offered 2-3 times to accommodate different time zones. The Connection Zone meetings have limited capacity and include Ask the Experts, Partner Conversations, and Community Sessions.
The networking tool supports meetings for the entire week (July 20-24) across all time zones, with senior Microsoft Executive meetings scheduled through the end of July. The Inspire networking tool is very similar to past years, but meetings (once accepted) are scheduled as a Microsoft Teams meeting, instead of getting assigned a table. As of 7/13 there were over 42,000 attendees listed in the networking tool!
Following are a few planning steps to maximize the Inspire networking opportunity:
Clarify objectives and expected outcomes for your attendees
Define meeting criteria and messaging for partner-to-partner and Microsoft meetings
Use the Inspire networking tool (and LinkedIn) to identify attendees to meet
Prioritize meetings and manage scheduling
Gather top insights and action items from all meetings and sessions
The Inspire session and networking tool opened later than usual which means you need to hustle to schedule networking and session times:
Register for the event if you haven’t already and complete your profile
RSVP for Connection Zone sessions as soon as possible (capacity is limited)
Research partners based on the Inspire networking profiles and propose meetings with potential new partners
Schedule meetings with Microsoft attendees to align with FY21 campaigns and co-sell account planning
Note that attendee filters do not include Microsoft competencies again this year, which makes partner recruiting a challenge. For example, if you are an ISV looking for SI/Services partners in the US, you have over 5,000 profiles to consider. Also, Microsoft attendees don't use the country tag so finding your regional counterparts is easier if you start with your own contact list rather than searching through the attendee tool.
Have a great event!