Last month, a group of sixteen members of Voices for Innovation’s Advisory Task Force (ATF) traveled to Microsoft headquarters for a day and a half of intensive briefings, tours, and training.
The visit gave ATF members—mostly small business Microsoft partners—a chance to share their perspective and learn about how key public policy debates will help shape the future of innovation and business growth. The agenda also provided some insight into Microsoft’s operations and future direction.
ATF members heard from Microsoft executives on topics ranging from workforce development to regulatory compliance to AI. In a session on cybersecurity, Tom Burt, the head of Microsoft’s global-leading Digital Crimes Unit, painted a sobering picture of the world of cybercrime. “The degree to which cybercriminals are winning is remarkable,” said Burt. “They are smart, creative, and well-financed.”
“As a new Advisory Task Force member, I found the interactive briefing sessions with Microsoft’s senior counsel were especially helpful,” said Marian Breeze, director of business development at Archive360. “When I returned from the meetings in Redmond, I was able to use what we learned from Jon Palmer regarding outdated privacy laws and some of Tom Burt’s insights on cybercrime in conversations with customers and partners.”
While most of the visit was spent around a conference room table, ATF members also took a tour of Microsoft’s Envisioning Center, which showcases simulated versions of future technologies in the workplace and home. Later, ATF members also visited the Devices Lab, where new hardware is developed, prototyped, and tested.
For the third year in a row, Microsoft Executive Vice President Kurt DelBene took time out of his hectic schedule to sit down with VFI and share what’s happening at Microsoft. He discussed that in addition to advancing innovation and improving products, Microsoft continues to work on its own transformation into a more agile company.
Marian Breeze reflected on the opportunity to meet with DelBene, saying, “Archive360 built our newest platform on Azure, and we’re now in a big push into the marketplace. Decisions made at the corporate level within Microsoft can have a significant impact on our business strategies. So, when we met with Kurt DelBene and he asked for our insights and concerns, it was a highlight of the week. He gave ATF members the opportunity to provide feedback from the SMB perspective. I didn’t expect to have an extended conversation with a corporate leader who makes game-changing decisions for growing companies like ours.”
All in all, it was an exciting, whirlwind visit. “It was an amazing trip,” said Jon Rivers, ATF member and president of partner-focused Marketing Monarchs. “The speakers and content were top notch. I feel better prepared now to take action as an advocate for strong tech policies.”
To learn more about Voices for Innovation and deepening your engagement with our organization, please stop by our booth at Microsoft Inspire, July 9-13, in Washington, DC. We’ll be located in the Microsoft Central area of the Expo Center.