There were a ton of product announcements, emerging opportunities for partners and here are a few things that caught our attention.
Microsoft recently had their global partner conference — Microsoft Inspire 2020. This year, (due to COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis), it was an online-only event. Still, it turned out to be a great event where Microsoft partners found new inspiration and ideas from the variety of keynotes speakers and breakout sessions.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Channel Chief Gavriella Schuster and Microsoft Executive VP, Judson Althoff — had many appearances. They talked about the fast-growing areas of Microsoft Teams, Windows Virtual Desktop, Dynamics 365 and Azure.
Speaking about Microsoft’s infrastructure, “across the cloud and the edge,” there is an “incredible impact our partners and customers can have with it,” Nadella said during his remarks at Inspire.
Here are the top takeaways from Microsoft Inspire 2020.
Nadella is Refocusing on a Partner Focus
Nadella said that for Microsoft to do well they need partners to do well. They have ingrained that philosophy in their business model and are focusing on being a more partner led organization.
This intertwining technology focus areas will be a tremendous opportunity for all partners. It will help them work with customers better and build lasting digital transformation.
Nadella also spoke about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He spoke more directly to partners this year than in previous years at Inspire. He talked about Azure and other platforms. He discussed digital technology and how it is even more crucial to both resilience as well as transformation.
Emphasis On Microsoft Teams
Over the last few quarters the demand for Microsoft’s remote-work solutions Teams has surged. They discussed how companies can take advantage of the full value of Microsoft 365 and are rest assured that is a secure, remote work collaboration solution.
Together Mode was a new topic. Nadella discussed how the Together Mode is a new experience in Teams that uses AI to digitally place participants in a shared background. This makes it feel like you’re sitting in the same room--reducing background distractions and making it easier to pick up the nonverbal cues that we miss. Conversations are much more natural
Windows Virtual Desktop
This was the first Inspire conference since Microsoft introduced its Azure-based virtual desktop solution, Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD). Like Teams, WVD has seen a spike in demand with the shift to remote work. This will be a big opportunity for partners going forward.
WVD allows organizations to get up and running in minutes from the Azure portal. Additionally, you can add on hybrid environments to create an end-to-end, hybrid solution for customers.
New Azure Updates
In connection with Inspire 2020, Microsoft announced new hybrid migration, data, security and compliance, and developer offerings around the Azure cloud platform. These projects and services include the next generation of Azure Stack HCI, new Azure Migrate features and Azure Lighthouse security enhancements, and third-party connectors for Azure Sentinel, Microsoft’s security information and event management offering.
For Azure Lighthouse—this provides Azure management capabilities to managed services providers, and originally launched at Inspire last year—Microsoft unveiled new additions including multifactor authentication and privileged identity management support for just-in-time access.
In answer to partner requests, Azure Lighthouse will now enable partners to reduce risk from standing elevated access, strengthen authentication methods and match customers’ compliance and risk management requirements, according to Microsoft.
Let’s Accelerate The Cloud Shift
Many companies thought it was a good idea to get out of your data center— pre-COVID. Now it looks really good to get out of your data center NOW. Microsoft has a variety of solution areas, cloud capabilities—(from modern workplace) through security, business applications, apps and infrastructure, data and AI--across Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure. These are the ingredients that will help customers persevere in these difficult times.
The “New” Microsoft
Among the other notable product announcements at Inspire 2020 was Dynamics 365 Customer Voice, which aims to improve customer responses by enabling organizations to incorporate feedback into their customer view in real time.
Previously, Microsoft had built a voice of the customer solution, and attached it to Dynamics, for collecting feedback from customers. It was separate from everything else in Dynamics 365, and didn’t use the capabilities inside of Microsoft 365 or Azure.
Microsoft announced it was being deprecated last year, and directed customers to use ‘Forms’ instead. Although this was a useful solution, Forms as a product was in its infancy.
It was great to see the new Customer Voice announced because it became clear that on the backend, it’s still using the new framework Forms introduced, but supercharged to allow easier customer satisfaction score collection for organizations.
Getting to the heart of this new solution: regardless of whether it is built upon Azure in the backend, or Microsoft 365, or Dynamics 365, it solves a useful customer problem. Just as services inside of Office 365 are now part of Microsoft 365, services that are part of the other two clouds are getting broadly positioned as ‘Microsoft’ which is great. Customers don’t understand the difference between Microsoft’s three cloud platforms, so being able to simply say ‘Microsoft’ makes it easier for partners and customers.
Managed Services Transition
Microsoft has been emphasizing the importance of partners shifting to managed services for years. At Microsoft Inspire executives took a more insistent tone.
They said now is the time for monthly subscription billing and managed service options. Some customers want to pay up front where others want to transition from projects into monthly payment service schedules. There is a great opportunity to partner with customers and organizations and make it a win for everyone.
More Opportunities By Partner Type
At Inspire 2020, Microsoft recommended specific opportunities to focus on for each category of need for customers. They want partners who are good at utilizing the full technology stack, and using all three clouds out to the edge, to maximize what you can do for the customer. JourneyTEAM is one of those organizations that is able to do this.
For those partners that are unable to do that, Microsoft recommended they partner with companies like JourneyTEAM to offer the support in areas where they lack the expertise. Microsoft also said they would love to see building practices in two of the fastest-growing workloads: data analytics and AI, and Windows Virtual Desktops. Those are key areas where you can make a big difference.
Minimizing Changes For Partners
One thing that Inspire 2020 notably did not include was any major upheaval over changes for partners, akin to Microsoft’s decision a year ago to stop providing partners with internal use rights on its products (an unpopular decision that was later rescinded).
Growing During A Pandemic
Even as Inspire was taking place, Microsoft reported the financial results from the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2020--which saw revenue grow 13 percent year-over-year, beating Wall Street analyst expectations.
Microsoft talked a great game during the keynotes and sessions, but seeing those number really drilled home the point that Microsoft was trying to make. During the pandemic many groups have a hard time making money where as Microsoft continues to move forward.
JourneyTEAM is a Microsoft Gold Partner and meets or exceeds in many of the categories that were discussed at Inspire 2020. They have a variety of department and services that are able to work in all three Microsoft clouds. They have managed service offerings that allow flexibility to clients. They have long term consultants that can grow with your organizational needs.
Even more, Inspire 2020 was a great year for JourneyTEAM. This year they were awarded the MSUS 2020 Partner of the Year for Dynamics 365 in Media and Communications. They also were awarded the Crystal Eagle Award for being a Top 5 Dynamics 365 Business Central partner.
We hope this information was beneficial.
For more information or help with services please visit www.journeyteam.com or call 801.436.6636
Article by: Dave Bollard – Head of Marketing
JourneyTEAM is an award-winning consulting firm with proven technology and measurable results. They take Microsoft products; Dynamics 365, SharePoint intranet, Office 365, Azure, CRM, GP, NAV, SL, AX, and modify them to work for you. The team has expert level, Microsoft Gold certified consultants that dive deep into the dynamics of your organization and solve complex issues. They have solutions for sales, marketing, productivity, collaboration, analytics, accounting, security and more. www.journeyteam.com