What to expect at Microsoft Inspire – An interview with Dean Armintrout

An interview with Dean Armintrout, Director of Partner Marketing & Events for Microsoft, on what’s in store for this year’s Microsoft Inspire Conference.

Pranita Tamang
4 MIN|April 19, 2017
Microsoft Inspire

Microsoft Inspire will be arriving in Washington D.C. this July. It’s the biggest event in the calendar for Microsoft Partners, with tens of thousands of vendors and service providers in attendance. We sat down with Dean Armintrout, Director of Partner Marketing & Events for Microsoft, to get the inside view on what to expect from the event.

The Worldwide Partner Conference was renamed as Microsoft Inspire for 2017. Can you tell us about the name change?

Our mission was to further align with our corporate flagship event names and rebrand the event with a name that effectively communicates both the value and opportunity of our largest partner conference. As we began developing our new name, we asked partners how they feel after attending our event and the word that came up the most was “inspired”, so ‘Microsoft Inspire’ was the perfect fit. Our flagship events (Microsoft Build, Ignite and Envision) represent a vision for the future, and with this rebrand to Microsoft Inspire, it completes our event portfolio and aligns with our vision as a company“.

What should Partners that are attending for the first time expect from the conference?

Microsoft Inspire is packed with amazing content and experiences for all partners. We have daily inspirational keynotes from our top Microsoft executives and over 600 sessions covering everything from product roadmaps, go-to-market strategies, industry solution maps, and more – including our leadership series of sessions, where we bring in external thought leaders to provide insights on sales, marketing and overall leadership strategies.

“Besides sessions, partners should visit The Commons – the place to be at Microsoft Inspire, where we have over 200 sponsors and exhibitors showcasing their solutions, Microsoft technology areas showcasing the latest innovations, a Community Hub where you can connect with partners and have discussions on key topics of interest – and a Partner Experience area where you can connect with subject matter experts and learn all you need to manage your partnership with Microsoft. We also offer a ton of networking activities – everything from daily happy hours to structured networking sessions to our regional events and, of course, our ultimate Partner Celebration”.

What do Partners generally gain from attending the conference?

Partners attending Microsoft Inspire gain insight into our strategy for the fiscal year and walk away with the knowledge, tools and resources to help them be profitable. Our goal is to show partners how partnering with Microsoft is the best bet to help them grow their business. Further, partners have the chance to connect with each other, enabling them to explore further opportunities to be profitable together”.

Do you have any advice for Partners attending and how they can prepare to make the most of the conference?

Partners should definitely plan ahead! Be sure to check out the session schedule to begin deciding what sessions are right for you. And, when the session scheduler opens early June, begin building your schedule so you can maximize your time at Microsoft Inspire. Be sure to set up your Connect profile (also live early June) and you can search for partners you are most interested in meeting with and schedule meetings during the event. Many partners say they get more business done the week of Microsoft Inspire than they do the entire year, so be sure to plan ahead to ensure you participate in the best sessions and make the most connections“.

What are you most looking forward to about the conference?

We have a lot of innovation to showcase this year and I can’t wait for our partners to see what’s coming! Our keynote lineup (to be announced end of May) is great this year and we have some fun surprises in store. Aside from all the great content, I of course am looking forward to our Partner Celebration. We’re taking over Nationals Park for a fun-filled night of networking, games and excitement, including an exclusive performance by seven time Grammy award winner, Carrie Underwood – all just for our partners!

Is there anything particularly exciting expected to happen at this year’s partner event?

Every year is new and exciting! We keep what we know works, like our inspirational keynotes and engaging sessions and workshops, but we also build upon the experiences based on feedback from our partners. New this year, we’re offering more of a variety of session types and lengths, so that partners can attend sessions that are right for them, including our new 20-minute Power sessions. We’ve also changed our approach to the Community Hub and will have Hot Topic discussion areas for partners to have informal discussions on topics they are most interested in. We’re also bringing LinkedIn to Microsoft Inspire in a variety of ways, including a Rock Your Profile experience, where partners can get help on improving their LinkedIn profile.

“Every year at Microsoft Inspire, we pride ourselves on giving back to the community and this year is no different. In addition to the various donations we make throughout the event, we are partnering with Code.org this year and bringing an Hour of Code to Microsoft Inspire – where we’ll have partner volunteers helping children learn how to code – right at the event!

Thanks again to Dean for filling us in on what to look forward to at Microsoft Inspire. Want to learn more about Microsoft Inspire? Read our recent guest post from Channel Marketing Evangelist and Senior Manager for Global Partner Channels and Programs for the Microsoft Partner Network, Jennifer Tomlinson.