Westcoast Small Business Forum…..the aftermath

I’ve been home a couple of hours now after the Susanne’s event at the Microsoft campus in Reading. She and her team did a fantastic job with the whole event and from my viewpoint it was very valuable and worth taking the time to attend. As far as i could tell this applied to everyone there

I’ll just give a quick overview here and add some more posts tomorrow after i’ve got some sleep!

The actual event was on Thursday (today) but on Wednesday there was a “round table discussion” event similar to what has been going on down under

The idea here was that a small group of people sat around a table with the distributor (Westcoast) and some vendors (Microsoft, Symantec) to discuss what was good, what was bad and what ideas we had to share to make some positive changes

There was a good cross section of SBSC partners in attendance so we manged to cover things from lots of viewpoints from the “one man bad” shop up to the fast growing gold partners with teams of engineers.

Conversation was very open and honest and some interesting ideas where thrown about. If half of these come to fruition it’ll make hugh differences to SBSC’s in the UK

Wednesday night was a social event and we certainly had a good time being sociable, though it didn’t make getting up the following morning fun!

At the main event itself there were plently of opportunities to chat to fellow SBSC’s. Staff from Westcoast, Symantec, HP and Microsoft were in attendance to discuss anything and everything to do with working together

We had keynotes from Duncan Forsyth (Managing Director of Westcoast) and James Baker (Business Development Manager for Symantec) where they talked about their respective companies and what they are doing in the small business space

After this we had a variety of workshops covering the following topics

“Small Business Engagment” – Chris Parkes went over what a useful resource Demo Showcase and the “Business and Technical Assessment Toolkit” are

Malcolm Clark from the OEM team discussed the “Office Ready PC” program

After this we had a choice “Making the most of your SBSC status” or “Understanding how Volume Licensing presents advantages”.

I went to the SBSC session as the UK SBSC PALs Vijay and Gareth were speaking and even though i’d heard some of their content before i love the conversations they start in the room

After this we had another choice where we got to look at some vendor products

The choice Symantec Endpoint Protection or HP ProLiant Servers. I went for the HP option as i havn’t heard anyone from HP speak for a long time and since we sell their servers i wanted find out what was going on

The final session had Dave Overton making a return to the SBSC scene (ISV let him out for one day!) and he managed to battle a cold to talk about upcoming opportunies with server technologies in 2007/2008. I’d never seen Dave present before but have heard many good things and i really liked his style.

The day was rounded off by getting some executives on stage from the four companies who were represented to give them a bit of a grilling in a Q&A session

I had a really good two days and can’t thank Susanne enough for putting the whole thing on. She has plans to make the whole thing a regular occurance so it will be good to keep the momentum going and continue the dialog. It also means if you missed out this time you can still get involved

I managed to put some faces to names and meet some new people as well. I’m terrible at asking people for their business cards so if i spoke to you over the last couple of days drop me an email and say hi!

I’ve got lots to think about and i’ll definately blog some more on this over the next few days

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Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. Formerly, coordinator of AMITPRO and Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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1 thought on “Westcoast Small Business Forum…..the aftermath

  • A fantastic couple of days – a great atmosphere, well organised, an excellent opportunity to get to know other members of the SMB Community and discuss viewpoints – just great stuff and so useful, even if Wednesday nights “networking” made Thursday morning hard going . Huge thanks to AJ and Susanne at Westcoast for organising!

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