Microsoft Inspire 2018: Highlights from day one

Microsoft Inspire 2018: Highlights from day one
We look at some of the key updates Microsoft executives revealed during their keynote speeches

Rebecca Gibson |

Developing new industry-specific solutions, a stronger ‘intelligent edge, intelligent cloud’ strategy and new initiatives to help partners drive customer acquisition were the hot topics on the first full day of Microsoft Inspire 2018, which is being held from 15-18 July in Las Vegas, US.

Thousands of Microsoft employees, active and prospective partners and industry experts gathered in the T-Mobile Arena to hear how Microsoft and its technologies are helping companies worldwide to transform their businesses and empower their employees for the digital-first, mobile-first world. The event kicked off with a series of corenotes from key Microsoft executives, including Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of the One Commercial Partner programme; Judson Althoff, executive vice president for Worldwide Commercial Business; and president and chief legal officer Brad Smith.

In her corenote, Schuster focused on the different ways that the One Commercial Partner initiative is helping partners to develop new solutions and get them in the hands of the right customers. In the first year of the programme, partner revenue has surpassed US$5 billion and Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Dynamics 365 and the Cloud Solution Provider programme have all grown significantly.

Schuster also shared Microsoft’s plans to further strengthen the partner network by introducing new programmes, tools and resources, such as new e-books about digital transformation, practice development playbooks and a fresh approach to showcasing partners with specialised expertise beyond a Microsoft Gold competency level. In addition, the company will introduce a Microsoft Azure Expert Managed Service Providers programme for partners with highly specialised capabilities; flexible benefits packages for partners with competencies that add access to go-to-market services as core benefits; and an upgraded AppSouce marketplace that will feature third-party partner solutions alongside Microsoft’s own solutions in its product catalogue. This will enable Microsoft’s direct salesforce and reseller partners to sell both first- and third-party solutions individually or combined.

“Going through the massive reorganisation means that Microsoft and channel partners are now in an even better position for growth in the coming year - something Microsoft is hoping to ramp up even further by bringing its own salespeople together with partners at Inspire this year for the first time,” said Schuster. “We're going to learn together, we're going to build together, we're going to plan together.”

In his keynote, Althoff (pictured) gave attendees an update on Microsoft’s progress with its ‘intelligent cloud, intelligent edge’ strategy and the latest capabilities in its internet of things and edge computing solutions. He highlighted how these technologies will help partners in the Microsoft ecosystem to develop the tools that will drive effective digital transformation for their customers.

“The intelligent cloud and intelligent edge is real – it’s here, it’s now and it represents an opportunity for all of us,” said Althoff. “This new wave of computing, intelligent cloud and intelligent edge, will shape everything that we build together for the future to come.”

Althoff also explained the initiatives Microsoft has put in place to work with its partners to encourage more customers to adopt the Microsoft Cloud. For example, Microsoft has invested in an account-based marketing strategy so it can deliver relevant leads to partners and create teams of specialists dedicated to regions that currently have little or no adoption of Microsoft Azure.

"We're going to focus on bringing forward those opportunities and working with you [Microsoft partners],” said Althoff. “And we're going to provide an incentive model that compensates our people, as well as you, more for doing the hard work of breaking through with customers."

Meanwhile, Smith used his keynote to outline why it is important for Microsoft, the technology industry and governments to take corporate responsibility for cybersecurity, the ethical use of artificial intelligence solutions (such as facial recognition) and increasing diversity.

“All of that will help us with our final goal: to act in a way that uses the newest advances in technology to help address the biggest challenges in the world,” said Smith.

Read our exclusive interview with Schuster to discover more about the new opportunities Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner programme is providing to Microsoft partners.

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