Microsoft may keep staff and partners off conference circuit through June 2021, according to published reports
While many vendors are looking forward to the fall to get back on the road with partner and customer events, Microsoft — which hosts some of the largest conferences in the industry — isn’t returning to the road until June 2021.
The Lowdown: In a blog posted by Microsoft insider Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet, Microsoft confirmed that its events scheduled for the fall — including Ignite IT, which is scheduled for September in New Orleans — will be digital in light of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan to take more events and conferences online applies to internal and external programs, the report indicated.
The Details: In a statement, Microsoft said it was exploring online alternatives to its live conferences through the end of 2020. The cancellation of live Microsoft events could extend through the end of the company’s fiscal year — June 2021. Microsoft said it’s evaluating its options when the time is right.
The Impact: The channel community is racing to replace live events with virtual and digital alternatives to keep contact with partners and customers, and to continue developing sales pipelines. Many vendors say the absence of live events is putting more pressure on marketing departments to come up with alternative means of developing sales leads. In a survey by The 2112 Group, 42% of channel chiefs said their companies would resume live events in the fall when social distancing measures lift. Microsoft canceling events through the end of the year could cause other vendors to take pause and reconsider their fall event plans.
Background: Hundreds of technology events around the world were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing and travel restrictions made live conferences an impossibility.