Spending time with partners at the Australia Partner Conference is always a highlight of the year. I see my keynote address as the perfect time to frame the opportunities ahead and challenge both Microsoft Australia and its partners to work better together.

The backdrop coming into this year’s conference is one of change. The world is changing at a rapid pace and Microsoft has recently announced a far-reaching realignment to best realise our strategy: Create a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work and on the go, for the activities they value most.

Individuals don’t live their life in silos. Most people cross the boundaries between their personal and professional lives frequently and seamlessly every day. What each of us values in our daily lives may differ; but the common ground is being driven by a desire to find devices and services that complement and empower our experiences at work and play.

This week’s Australia Partner Conference, invites the channel to ‘own tomorrow’. To me, the power in that proposition is fuelled by opportunities. The challenge is to embrace change, pick up pace and own the cloud. Microsoft recently sponsored an IDC study into the cloud landscape for customers and partners. The results were compelling. Partners with more than 50 percent of their revenue related to the cloud have been benefitting from higher gross profit, more new customers, increased revenue per employee; and faster overall business growth. I encourage partners to read the full report available under IDC resources. My executive summary is really an executive sentence: customers want to talk about the cloud.

Cloud for some will equate to big changes; but the channel has been braving the coalface of change and evolving for decades. This is just another evolution to embrace with trademark grit, perseverance and resilience. To best take advantage of it, we need to remind ourselves that ‘partner’ is a verb and increase the active participation between us. Our ecosystem is gathering speed and we are all assessing the design and agility of our businesses to ensure we can keep up and look around the next corner.

A symbol of this change of pace for Microsoft is the release of Windows 8.1 within 12 months of Windows 8. This extends across our platform with more frequent updates to many of our services. These models of rapid innovation demand we support, listen and actively partner with the channel. This year we are committed to an extensive program of skills and training, business and marketing development; and a conscious increase in access to the Microsoft team. Over the coming months we will announce dates and times of a bi-annual Partner Roadshow that will travel to five major cities.

When I think about what I would love our partners to do this year, outside of embracing the cloud; I would love to see every single Microsoft partner living and breathing Microsoft technology to become its best advocates. What you use and what you know, is what you sell.

Last, but not least, I want to thank all our partners for their hard work and support. The Microsoft Australia Partner Awards (MAPAs) were a great night and I always wish we could have everyone here to celebrate together. Thank you to everyone who has attended the week. It’s been another great Australia Partner Conference and I can’t wait to celebrate more best in class achievements one year from now.

I’m looking forward to an invigorating year that shows what’s possible when the partner channel sets out to own tomorrow.

Pip Marlow
Managing Director, Microsoft Australia