By Mitchell Gadd

Two Welsh businesses returning from a conference in Houston say they are confident of forging partnerships at home and overseas.

Circle IT and Sequence were among seven Welsh companies who attended the Microsoft World Conference (WPC) last week, which attracted more than 14,000 delegates from 160 countries to discuss key subjects driving the technology sector worldwide.

The visit was co-ordinated and supported by the Welsh Government as part of its international trade programme, with the aim of opening up international networking opportunities with other partners and Microsoft employees. Paul Thomas, sales director at Sequence, believes the trip was “essential” for the Cardiff-based business.

“Attending the WPC in Houston was extremely useful as I managed to make some great connections, not only within Microsoft, but also with many other people and companies,” he said.

“We met and spoke to companies that we have been working with from the UK, but the WPC enabled us to reach out to their international offices, which is a great benefit to us.

“We also used the conference as a platform to showcase the work we did for the British & Irish Lions in which Microsoft were a global partner. It was essential Sequence was represented in Houston.

“I met a number of other companies from Wales which provides excellent potential for partnering up on future projects. Attending the WPC is definitely something that we will do again and we are already planning to book up for Washington next year.”

Mr Thomas’s views are echoed by Andrew Beynon, technical services director at Circle IT.

“WPC2013 facilitated an amazing opportunity for networking and forging partnerships and relationships in both the public and private sectors as well as with Microsoft itself,” he said. “I am confident good things will come to fruition as a result of the trip.”

Mr Beynon also felt the trip was useful to keep up with the latest market and industry trends and will help the Cardiff-based business stay ahead of the game.

“The WPC provided a massive insight into the direction that Microsoft as a company is heading and their transition from a software company to services and devices company,” he said.

“Being able to hear and experience first-hand the transformation taking place in the industry, and have visibility of pre-release software and access to technical expertise on a global stage, provides an invaluable advantage to the way in which we will engage in emerging technologies and address the needs of our current and future client base.”

There were more than 500 speakers during the week, which focused on the modern era of computing, including cloud, devices and mobility and big data.

The Welsh firms, which also included Method4 Ltd, Kaimai Research Ltd, Nuvola Logic, Net Support UK Ltd and Pugh Computers Ltd, are all certified Microsoft Partners, providing Microsoft-related products or services on behalf of the computer giant. This gives the companies 24-hour access to Microsoft support, which enables them to give better customer relations and support to their customers.

During the trip, the businesses were also able to experience American culture and take time to visit some famous surroundings.

Mr Beynon said: “The trip to WPC2013 provided an excellent opportunity to visit the NASA Johnston Space Centre and to see where the Apollo and Gemini space missions were controlled from and to meet (engineer) Adam Steltzner, who provided amazing insight into the NASA Mars project.”

For full details of trade missions in the Welsh Government’s international programme, and more, visit www.walesworldwide.org/calendar.