By Tisski CEO, Anna Assassa
Go to Inspire Vegas, Microsoft said. It’ll be fun they said. The problem is I was there to work and I’m naturally a bit of a workaholic.
Did I make the most of Vegas? I think it is fair to say probably not in relation to the city. But was it worth going? Yes, definitely. After landing in Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon, I was busy pretty much every waking hour until I left (which was many hours due to serious jet lag!). But was attending Microsoft Inspire worth it? Absolutely, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!
Things I loved about Inspire
What I love about Inspire, is the chance to mix with so many intelligent, motivated, successful people. From Dynamics partners to ISV partners, to the Microsoft team and invited speakers. I am always fascinated by how we all do business in different ways and yet all get to a good result. I learn so much from people who are so different from myself and l think often you can just receive energy and absorb information from successful people.
What else is great? The Exhibition Hall is always a fairly unrecognised asset at Inspire. Whilst people on the stands are indeed trying to sell, I like to walk around and understand our options which will provide opportunities to reduce coding and provide increased functionality without heavy financial investment. Often I can’t see when I might need these products, but if they are good I take down the details and halfway through the year I will find myself scrabbling around to find them in my scanned documents.
This year, in particular, I thought the UK Team were outstanding. Microsoft crossed Inspire with Ready (their internal conference) this was an excellent idea. It meant that I could meet with people we work with regularly, out of the pressure of TVP or our offices, and have the chance to discuss strategic plans over day to day execution. I have always admired the UK team, but this year it felt like they worked particularly hard. I saw them all at all social events, constantly in meetings and certainly not just going through the motions until they can escape. It seems to me that this great attitude I felt reflects their highly successful year last year and the likelihood that if we as partners do our side it will be a brilliant year this year too. I already am super excited about what this year will bring.
The challenges of Inspire
My rule in life is that anything worth having, probably is worth fighting for and I must admit I do feel a bit like this about Inspire. It basically involves the following: a complete lack of sleep for close to a week. A fair amount of planning. Lots of rushing from one place to the other. little or no relaxation all week (this comment probably only applies to the highly strung worriers like myself) and a constant feeling of being slightly disorientated due to diving in and out of very dark hotels, into extremely bright sunlight.
My advice to those attending:
- Think carefully about what to wear. It is very hot in Vegas and high heels are a challenge (men you are probably okay on this one).
Make a plan before you attend, it is almost impossible to get the best out of Inspire unless you plan ahead.
- Mix with anyone and everyone. It’s one of the few times barriers come down between competitors and it’s good to see them somewhere other than in competition.
- Plan meetings. The Microsoft team are fabulously generous with their time at Inspire and this is your chance to learn what you can before the year really kicks off.
- Attend as many sessions as you can but pick carefully.
Would I recommend Inspire?
For any kind of business leader, partner or interested party, without a shadow of a doubt, I would. My warning to you, however, was sitting on the plane next to me on the way home.
The gentleman said, “Oh, were you at Inspire?”
“Yes, I said” a little unenthusiastically I must admit, as I am pretty unsociable on planes and was absolutely shattered.
“My company paid for me but I didn’t go, I got completely distracted by Las Vegas and didn’t get across the doorstep”
Needless to say, the 10 hours sleep I had planned was then filled with nightmares of wasted money on lazy salespeople and missed opportunities, but for those of us who did actually attend it was well worth going. It is one of those events though that very much gives back what you put in so that is one competitor I don’t need to worry too much about next year.
Inspire is not an easy trip to afford. It costs close to £8k between tickets, flights, hotel and sundries, but personally, I think it is the must do trip of the year in the Microsoft calendar for any partner. Sometimes, it felt like you were in a very hot version of the UK, surrounded by UK partners and the UK Microsoft team but this trip really wasn’t about Las Vegas.
I do sometimes wonder what Inspire is about. Is it the world-wide business trip (a perk not to be sniffed at)? Is it the networking? The great inspiring speakers or the chance to meet with the Microsoft team? I think I would say that my answer is, all of the above. Tisski’s year starts at the beginning of September and I find Inspire is a great place to gather my thoughts in preparation for business planning for the following year and all of these things help me form my plans for the following year and work out how we can afford to go to the next one!