Judson Althoff, EVP of Microsoft’s Worldwide Commercial Business took to the stage at Inspire 2019 to highlight partners’ progress in sectors such as financial services, retail, healthcare, government, education, oil and gas and automotive.
“Everyone is taking notice of the progress that we’ve made together, the differentiated solutions that all of you are building and taking to market, and the impact that it's having not just for individual customers, but for entire markets,” he said
Althoff talked about delivering enhancements in Windows 10, Surface, our OEM and Teams, “but what matters most to customers is that they actually experience a modern workplace solution that transcends form factors and really actually makes their people far more productive.”
He pressed home the message of “democratising digital” – equipping everyone with modern skills so that they can participate in the digital economy. To this end, Microsoft is to invest $100 million this year “in enabling you and enabling our customers directly and in our own skills, because we believe these modern skills are critical to deliver that digital experience to everyone.”
He said partners need to put artificial intelligence to work, and elsewhere, “connect the front lines to the boardroom” – for example, implementing Azure Machine Learning and Teams together to connect the front-line worker to the boardroom.
“So, it really is about people and technology, empowering people with the richest assets that our ecosystem can provide: Our technology portfolio, your skills, how we bring them to life for an ecosystem. People and technology are at the core.”
Importance of trust
Also on stage for the Corenote, Corporate VP of Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner Organisation, Gavriella Schuster spoke about the importance of trust, and how it is “more important today than it's ever been.”
“Let’s face it, our traditional way of partnering was built much more around a supply chain. Microsoft would build some software. Partner might resell it, partner might integrate it, manage it, deploy it, support it, and it was a series of hand-offs. And there wasn’t as much trust inspired in those hand-offs.
“But cloud services fundamentally change the basis of our relationship. Cloud services collapses that supply chain and requires each of us to provide persistent and always-on services to our customers. So, it blurs the lines between what we do. We no longer have these unique and distinct roles to play. What is the platform or the layers of the platform? What are the solutions? And what is the managed service? “We each need to provide all of those things all the time. And we are each equally accountable to the customer. And we can't afford even a single point of failure or the whole system fails.”
Areas of focus
The exec talked of the opportunity to migrate customers to the Azure platform: “We estimate about 60 percent of our server install base is still on Windows Server and SQL Server 2008. That’s 24 million instances. That is a $50 billion market opportunity that you should be going after right now, this year, because those customers are vulnerable and exposed. They are on server technology from 2008,” she said.
However, she recognised that a gap around Azure skills is holding some partners back. As a result Microsoft is going to invest in training for partners. Shuster also pointed to the new Azure Lighthouse. Service, which enables multicustomer, multitenant management at scale in a secure environment with automation.
“And once you unlock cloud migrations, you unleash the customers’ data…. you have the opportunity to start reasoning over that data to build intelligent design with AI and analytics and help the customer to re-look at their whole business and think about it in a totally different way and think about their business decisions completely differently. And that moves you from being a strategic supplier to a strategic adviser. And I know that that is a place that we all want to be.”
Elsewhere Schuster revealed that Microsoft spends nearly a billion dollars a year in R&D on security, building it “into every product, every technology and every service”.
She also pointed to the explosive growth of Teams, noting that it is already on a faster trajectory than SharePoint’s growth a decade ago. And, she said, the bridge between Teams and the backend of business applications is PowerApps.
“PowerApps is that citizen developer tool. It enables your team to build connectors, to build integration, and to build new applications, and bring it all the way back into business applications,” she said.
If you were unable to make it to Las Vegas but would like to be updated with all the news and announcements, join us and Microsoft for Inspired this August! The events will be held on 8 August 2019 at Microsoft Paddington, London, and 23 August 2019 at One Microsoft Place, Dublin. Save your seat today!