Let’s start by being honest here – it’s fair to say that the IT sector doesn’t have a legacy reputation for being the most exciting industry, (think back to the IT Crowd), but as technology advances and the spotlight intensifies, the widespread old-hat perception is beginning to change.
To clarify, we at Chalkline like to think of ourselves as an outgoing, dynamic, and thoroughly entertaining bunch, so when Microsoft announced that this year’s Inspire event was going to take place in Las Vegas again, we confirmed our place immediately.
Because that’s the kind of people we are.
Inspire 2018 was held from the 15th -19th July; we arrived in Las Vegas on Sunday and headed straight to the Mandalay Bay Convention Centre to register ourselves. That night we attended the Inspire 2018 Welcome Party on the terrace at the world-famous Bellagio hotel.
When we say terrace, we bet all sorts of images of a balmy evening with a cooling breeze are conjured in your mind. There was no breeze: it was HOT. Whatever the heat wave was back in Blighty – Nevada is a desert state and trumps the UK temperatures.
On Monday 16th, we joined 18,000 other attendees that had flown in from 132 countries – making it the biggest Microsoft Inspire event so far. This year’s event was the first conference to be co-located with Microsoft Ready and was a unique opportunity for all Microsoft employees and partners to connect, network and cement the Microsoft community like never before.
Ultimately it was an experience that aids us all in accelerating the digital transformation of our customers.
Delegates packed out the day’s venue, the T-Mobile Arena; together we witnessed the senior leaders discuss a variety of ways companies around the world are transforming and future-proofing their businesses through the power of partnerships and Microsoft technologies.
Monday’s Core Notes focussed on the opportunity to embrace digital transformation to create a modern workplace fuelled by a seamless relationship between cloud, artificial intelligence, mixed reality and the Internet of Things.
Although, in recent years, we have seen much talk of cloud computing and the IoT in the UK, they are yet to be widely adopted. Meanwhile AI and mixed reality are still largely on the peripheral, and this space to develop adoption, offers businesses such as Chalkline, in the IT and tech realm, an extremely exciting opportunity to pioneer its implementation in workplaces across the country.
Later that evening, we were invited to spend the evening with our partners Ingram Micro over dinner and (many) drinks to discuss the day’s themes, relax after a day of intent listening and soak up the Vegas party atmosphere. It did the trick - you don’t see that in The IT Crowd.
Concentrate on what you are good at
Tuesday morning saw us attend meetings with key Microsoft employees to discuss the vision for 2019. We also met with other like-minded CEO’s and partners, including the UK MD of Citrix.
In the afternoon we made our way to the Business Leadership sessions, which promised valuable insights on how to successfully scale our business. Chalkline are ready to embark on our next period of company growth; these sessions offered us actionable advice on how to do so successfully.
The key takeaways from these sessions were:
- Concentrate on what we are good at
- Do all we can to make our clients’ lives easier
From the very beginning we knew that, in the IT industry, customer service is inherently lacking and communication can be severely substandard, leading to client frustration and poor relationships.
We made our service and communication a key USP of our business, so these takeaways served to underpin how important our focus on this is for our clients - and for Chalkline as a business.
Tuesday evening we descended upon the Paris Hotel for the UK party.
What We Had Been Waiting For
Wednesday 18th was what we had been waiting for – the Core Note speech with Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella.
He delivered an inspiring message detailing how, by harnessing the power of the Microsoft Intelligent Cloud and the Microsoft Intelligent Edge, we as Microsoft partners and employees can deliver on the Microsoft mission of “empowering every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more”.
This speech left us motivated and reignited our passion for what Chalkline stands for.
Following this, we were part of a UK Partner session, in which the highlight was hearing from Ben Ryan at Ambionics. Ben shared his experience of using Microsoft products to help infants and children to adapt to prosthetic limbs at much earlier stages, after his own son had to have his left arm amputated at birth.
This story was extremely touching, and there wasn’t a dry eye left in the house. His story drilled home how much potential there for Microsoft products and advancing technology to integrate and make changes in every sector that will have enormous positive impacts and leave a lasting legacy.
That evening, the main partner celebration event commenced at the Las Vegas Speedway where Bruno Mars performed.
Thursday 19th was a well-deserved day off: we spent the day relaxing by the pool, before fulfilling our invitation at the Partner to Partner Advisory Council (P2PAC).
Since its formation in the early 2000s, Microsoft Partners have been taking advantage of the chance to get together to learn from each other outside of a scheduled program. At these informal gatherings, ideas are exchanged, creativity flourishes and strategies begin to form.
The easy-going nature of these events serves to break down competitive barriers, enabling us to develop solutions on how we can, collectively as Microsoft Partners, consider the challenges we face and how to overcome them.
Microsoft have stated –
"The Microsoft PAC program is also a valuable vetting process. Only the most valuable leaders from the best partners are selected each year and by design they are rotated. “Best” partners are not defined by size, but by strategic value to the Microsoft Platform.
This format gives us a constantly changing number of people to meet and connect with. Most are smart, witty, insightful and driven to succeed. Microsoft obtains great value from their collective insight and we as partners can obtain great insight from each other."
Not only are we humbled by this statement as partners, we are inspired by our time at this years PAC dinner and the entire Microsoft Inspire 2018 conference. The event was an unforgettable experience and one from which we drew much knowledge and passion.
Even though we work to ensure we are providing the best solutions and service for our clients every single day, these events always serve to refresh our passion and motivation for doing so.