Why would a Microsoft Partner attend TechED?

Tiffany Wallace

2011 will mark my third Microsoft TechED North America conference and I couldn’t be more excited for May to arrive.  As active as I am in the Microsoft Partner network, it took me to actually attend the conference to understand its TRUE value. An analogy to help convey its value would be, “What Microsoft WPC (World Partner Conference) is to a partner is what TechED is to our customers”. So what, there are lots of great conferences, what separates TechEd from any other conference?  I have narrowed down my top three reasons why a Microsoft partner of any solution competency should attend:

  • If only for the EXPO Hall: Imagine walking into a conference as if you were THE client/customer?  Well this is where our decision makers come to find the NEXT big thing that they can and will implement in their company. Partners are contacted actively by vendors to re-sell their products. The Expo hall of TechED is full of these vendors and here you actually have the opportunity to view their presentations as the client.  I thought it was great to see where the crowds gathered and find out what the vendors had to offer. Wouldn’t you love to see a client as they demo the products? Whether understanding the delivery or taking in the questions, if you have some products you are considering adding to your arsenal this is the place to make that decision.
  • What are the Sessions all about? Wouldn’t you love to attend a session in which the presenter’s message garners close to 10% of the attendees in one room? My biggest “aha” moment was attending a 300 level session with Mark Russinovich titled “Cases of the Unexplained”. This session was on the last day of the conference, after lunch and still had at least 1000 in attendance. Our two MAIN communities, IT Pro and Developers, gather at TechED TOGETHER for one week. Regardless of your Microsoft Partner competency, this is where your clients/customers are. There are break out groups and strategy sessions with the greatest minds in our industry providing real world problems and solutions. Sit back and listen to what the attendee’s questions and concerns are. I include this in my top three because last year I began the week with a specific perspective and understanding of the issues my customers were facing. Attending sessions like Mark’s and seeing such a large audience engage at the end of the week in a topic, opened my eyes and gave me a new perspective on what my clients have been facing. The sessions give you the opportunity to see where your clients are gravitating to and help you gauge interest easily. There are numerous sessions that have remarkable content delivered in a way that the attendees are engaged in and excited!
  • Your NEW Microsoft Competency Strategy: When I have discussed this conference with partners in the past they initially state without hesitation that they send their own IT staff to TechED and sending someone from the business or sales side doesn’t seem necessary. While I contend this is a valid point, a typical attendee is going to this conference to learn, to be wow’d by not only the products but also by the team that created, envisioned and brought it to market. As a business development professional I find enormous value in actually understanding the vision behind these products and engaging in a conversation with the minds behind them. Do you see value in sitting in the room when great questions are discussed? How about hearing directly from your client’s mouth the areas where their business is struggling and the areas they see these new innovations helping? The ultimate value this conference provides to the future conversations you can have is immeasurable. In my experience talking with my fellow partners, under the new competency guidelines many partners have struggled to find their identity. This is where you can see all of those competencies in action among your clients and maybe even discover the value of something new for your business.


I want to end on something very sincere. This is not a sales and marketing conference! Please don’t discount the immense value of attending WPC in the summer. At TechED, learning is the most obvious value during the whole event. If you have attended this conference before then you understand, but if you have not, do not think you are coming to something where you network all night and skim sessions during the day. There are a fair amount of evening gatherings but remember these are the smartest folks in the industry! They live for those breakout sessions during the day.  At night when attendees sit around at a pub table they are discussing technology deeper than most of us can imagine. What I have realized and gotten the chance to embrace is that being a part of these conversations is amazing!

Tiffany Ingargiola, @TiffanyWI


  • Rob Boek
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    Great post Tiffany! I'd like to add, that TechEd is a great place for your employees to sharpen their technical skills. This can help you maintain your existing competencies, as well as add new ones. There is a testing center on-site at the conference, and there have historically been significant discounts on the exam pricing.

  • Andrew
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    Awww, you're just missing hanging out with all you new techie friends.   Not long now Tiff before you can rock with the pro's again!