Inspire Day 0: Pre-event activities

Post 2. Day 0 of Microsoft Inspire 2017

After a long flight we landed in Washington D.C in the morning at 06:00 feeling surprisingly fresh after an 18 hour flight.

Disappointingly we weren’t greeted by a Microsoft Inspire check-in desk after coming out of immigration like we were last year. This lack of airport check-in led to issues at the event Welcoming Reception which I’ll get to a bit later. I’d like to say we took the day easy, but the day was packed, with us running pretty much from the moment we landed, and in true South African fashion, ended far later than it should have.

As we could only check-in to our accommodation in the afternoon we were kindly assisted by Morgan Webb, a South Africa DX ISV Partner Lead, who volunteered his hotel room. This gave us a place to drop our bags and freshen up after the flight. Morgan, really appreciated the assistance, just a heads-up, please expect a bill from your mini-bar when you checkout. Thereafter we headed to the hop-on/hop off bus which by some strange coincidence ended up being half full of South African Microsoft employees and Partners. The networking which Inspire is famous for had begun.

The day was spent musueming, though admittedly by early afternoon due to a bit of jet-lag, Rey and I were walking zombies. After dropping our bags at our real accommodation and freshening up, we headed off to our first official activity of the conference, being the Inspire Welcoming Reception. While some old hands generally skip this, I found it really useful last year to wander around, learn the lay of the land and start meeting some of the sponsors and other Partners.

As we hadn’t had an opportunity to check-in we had to do so at the conference center. To our horror a massive queue had built up which was moving slowly. We spotted some South African Partners and had a quick chat to them. They’d been in the queue for 30 min and were only half-way. Unfortunately we only managed to hit the conference center floor at 18:00.

We had another event at 19:00, a drinks and networking session organized by the DevOps and Xamarin team so we only had an hour to play with. Despite the limited time we had a really good time on the Commons floor. I enjoyed the Welcome Reception last year and did so equally this time around. There is an energy and excitement to the interactions on the floor prior to the event. No one has their guard up too heavily with conversations being slightly more open than when the event kicks off formally on Monday. This may be assisted by the bars and the drinks being handed out liberally across the floor. We had some good chats with a couple of Microsoft teams about the upcoming Partner management and sales go-to-market strategy and how this would influence us as an ISV.

Besides for the obligatory collection of pamphlets and brochures we were given free swag by a number of stands, entered ourselves into a couple of competitions/raffles and did some pricing of items at the Microsoft Store. Honorary mention to Madison at the Dell EMC stand. He is quite the entertaining presenter and is well worth listening to for 10 minutes.

After the Welcome Reception we jumped on a bus from the conference center and headed to the Xamarin and DevOps drinks and networking session hosted at the W. Washington Hotel. This event presented an ideal situation to speak to the guys on the ground about the initiatives and strategic direction of technologies that we at Tangent are very passionate about. Had some really good chats with the Xamarin guys and with a number of other partners from across the globe. Heard some good news about some gripes I had which are being effectively handled. Honorary mention to the guys from Sapient Razor Fish for having what is undoubtedly the coolest company name I’ve seen to date at Inspire.

Other South African Partners we were met up with at the Reception went to a drinks, networking and information session organized by Westcon-Comstor regarding CSP, the business model and the general benefits. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it to this event as well but I believe it was well organized, informative and fun. Well done to Weston-Comstor for their initiative and thanks for hosting.

Again, I’d like to say we headed off to bed for an early night but unfortunately good food, wine and conversation prohibited that. It is with bleary and coffee propped up eyes that I’m posting this just before we head to the opening ceremony.

I’ll send my next post same time tomorrow, looking back at the first day of Inspire, the announcements and my thoughts on them as well as feedback on my day in general. Of note, I’ve got connect sessions lined up today as well the MEA region dinner at 19:00 tonight.

Feeling excited and energized and ready to get as much out of Inspire as possible.

Dave Nel,

Managing Partner, Tangent Solutions

Microsoft Regional Director