Bridge Communications

Saturday, July 16, 2016

What I learned at WPC 2016

This week I'll give you some insight as to the announcements, and my personal experience at the 2016 Microsoft WPC in Toronto.  I won't cover everything, most of the content is available on the web, mostly just things that peaked my interest, and hopefully yours as well.  First Microsoft put on an incredible conference, will many presentations, meetings, and events that had something for everyone who attended.

2 Members of the Bridge OC team standing next to our 4 applications on display in the WPC ISV App Catalog.

Announcements (in no particular order)

  1. Dynamics 365 is coming this fall
  2. AppSource will be the sales catalog for SaaS apps, Add-ins, and Content packs
  3. Windows enterprise E3 will let you use Windows as a service for $7 a month
  4. You will soon be able to get a Microsoft Surface as a service per month
  5. Skype Operations Framework will help partners with end to end best practices
  6. Skype for Business in the cloud will have IVR and Response groups by end of year
  7. Skype for Business in the cloud has the Event Zero reports in preview
  8. Skype for Business in the cloud will have a separate REST api for UCMA type things

Here are some of my personal observations

Certification - Being able to announced that your product was the first Skype for Business Certified attendant console solution was fantastic.  Being congratulated by Microsoft employees and partners in person was a truly wonderful experience.

Hololens - The MS Hololens is pretty cool and has some nice features for mixed reality, and much more function that the Google glass I developed on a couple years ago.  But at $3000 for the developer edition, it is unclear if it will take off, or go the way of glass.

Subscription - Microsoft is pushing almost every hardware and software offering they have to a monthly service model, like your phone bill.  While this represents a huge shift for people who install and sell licenses, it does present opportunity as well.  With a price war between MS, AWS, and Google, in most cases you can run the always latest version of software you may have been updating every 3 years previously for less money than you were used it.  It should in theory also streamline IT budgets, and make it pretty easy to figure out how much IT cost is involved in each new hire.  Since it is consumption based, it will allow small businesses equal footing when it comes to software now too.

Skype for Business - By the end of the year, cloud PBX may be a viable solution in the enterprise.  Some of the major holes (UCMA, IVR, Response Groups) are promised by years end.  The combination of these promise the ability to have compliance recording, contact centers, etc., without having to run a hybrid model.  The addition of amazing reporting that is above the level of on-prem will also be a selling a point.

Cloud First - If you haven't figured it out by now Microsoft has a could first approach to software.  They showed us many things that O365 can do in the various apps like PowerPoint, Outlook etc, that aren't available in their latest desktop counterparts.  While I certainly can see the benefit as a developer to being able to have all my users on the latest bug free versions, this is going to be a paradigm shift that may take some in the enterprise time to wrap their heads around.

Cognitive Services - Many of the projects that have been in the Microsoft research wing, have now found a great home as cloud based services.  Having computers be able to see, learn, speak, recognize speech, and be powered by a nearly infinite back-end will make for some amazing products created by people like us in the not so distant future.

Shoes - If you plan on attending WPC in the future make sure you bring comfortable shoes.  I am sure many of the other attendees who are tethered to a desk 12 hours or more a day, found themselves unaccustomed to walking 40 miles in 4 days.

Big Brother - In the not so distant future IT admins will be able to see in real-time almost everything their users do, from what files they look at, transfer, email, etc.  They showed us some amazing and scary tools that are only a short time from being available.  While this makes for amazing access and security, employees are going to come under much closer scrutiny in the near future.

Access - When you know the right people WPC can be a time to get access to Microsoft employees you may not have previously been able to.  I was amazed at how many of them didn't have their finger quite on the pulse of what their challenges were going to be in the enterprise.  To that end, I was very happy to be able to have that access and be able to educate, as well as be educated.  The information sharing was valuable both ways, and was truly one of the best things at WPC.

Toronto skyline as seen from the US partner party on Tuesday night

Conclusion - WPC was worth the trip.  I met with the people I needed to at Microsoft, I met other great partners we work with, and may we will work with in the future.  The city of Toronto was friendly, and easy to get around in, if you had the right shoes.  Microsoft is definitely leading the revolution in the shifting to digital technology on the go, and is positioned to have a bright future.

Doug Routledge, C# Lync, Skype for Business, SQL, Exchange, UC Developer
BridgeOC Twitter - @droutledge @ndbridge

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