Microsoft Inspire 2018 day three: Satya Nadella’s Corenote outlines his strategic vision

  • Our highlights from Satya Nadella's Corenote at day three of Microsoft Inspire 2018
  • Ethical principles of cybersecurity and three big shifts in digital technology
  • Demonstrations around 'The art of the possible' with Microsoft's reality technology changing how we work

This year, attendees of Microsoft Inspire had to wait until Wednesday to hear Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s Corenote session. But it was worth the wait. Satya presented his vision for the new fiscal year to a packed-out crowd at the T-Mobile Arena.

For the first time, Microsoft brought together its annual partner conference, Inspire, and its employee event, Ready. As Satya said: it’s important to bring these two sides of the same coin together because that is how Microsoft customers see us.

An opportunity and a responsibility

During Satya Nadella’s corenote last year, he announced Microsoft 365 to the world. Without any announcements of this scale to make, Satya focused on presenting a unified view of the achievements of the last year and the strategic vision going forward. As expected, much was made about the opportunity facing Microsoft and its partners. But perhaps even greater focus was given to the responsibility that comes hand in hand with that opportunity.

Tech spending is 5% of the world’s GDP and is expected to increase to 10% by 2030. This highlights the opportunity but also the huge responsibility that technology companies have to their customers and society at large.

We have written previously about Microsoft’s work to establish a new set of ethical principles for cybersecurity. Satya spoke about the Tech Accord, but gave the sense that this was only one part of the story – with ethical AI, ongoing GDPR-compliance and data privacy being mentioned in particular:

“As technology and digital technology becomes pervasive in our lives, we have to approach everything with the fundamental assumption that privacy is a human right.”

Satya Nadella’s Corenote: 3 big shifts

According to Satya, in the era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge, there are three things happening that present a profound shift in how we think about what digital technology should offer.

 “Ultimately, though, we've got to measure ourselves not by technology for technology's sake, but how are we empowering people?  How are we helping organizations with their digital transformational outcome?”

Satya mentioned three areas where big shifts are happening simultaneously:

  • Ubiquitous computing
  • AI
  • People-centred experiences

The drive toward ubiquitous computing

Satya spoke about the growth of Azure in 2018 and Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to ubiquitous computing. Azure has 54 data centre regions, each housing multiple data centres. What’s more, the amount of interconnect cables that are used across these data centres is the equivalent to the distance of going to the moon and back three times.

Project Natick is one of Microsoft’s latest data centres. Despite being built in just 90 days, it is fully self-sufficient and produces zero emissions. Perhaps even more impressive, though, is the fact that Project Natick is completely submerged in the ocean. As Satya said: 80% of the world’s population lives around the sea coast. It’s this kind of work that can bring Azure to everyone, no matter where they live.

Enthusing AI into everything we do

Satya highlighted that Microsoft has been making significant breakthroughs in AI for over 20 years. But, in particular, the ability for human parity in perception and language capabilities has come a long way during the last few years (as shown in Satya’s slide below):

Satya Nadella’s corenote

But again, Satya was quick to ground these achievements in the here and now:

“Our collective objective is to take these breakthroughs and democratize them with the tooling we create, with the expertise and the skill set and the services that you provide.  For us to be able to turn every industry into an AI-first industry, whether it's retail or healthcare or agriculture, we want to be able to make sure that they can take their data, in a security-privacy preserving way, convert that into AI capability that they get the return on.  That's really the objective.”

Satya gave a series of examples of customer-success in AI, including:

Putting people at the centre of digital experiences

The last big shift that Satya focused on was the move towards “people-centred experiences”. As Satya said:

“Fundamentally, so far, we've built applications which are what I would describe as device-centric. We've really not, whether it's the operating system or the application, broken free of the device.  And that's what's going to have to happen.”

Whether it’s in gaming or Microsoft 365, Satya said that Microsoft must be focused on building people-centred, multi-sense and multi-device experiences. To illustrate this Satya gave a demonstration of his own personal use of Microsoft 365. You can watch the demo here (36:41 onwards).

The art of the possible

It wasn’t just Satya who spoke at the Corenote on day three. Some of the biggest cheers of the day were for the demonstrations carried out in the section titled ‘The art of the possible’. This section looked at real-life scenarios affecting both first line and knowledge workers and how Microsoft 365 together with Microsoft’s reality technology can improve what is possible at work. These amazing demonstrations can be watched on demand here (57:10 onwards).

The corenotes are always a highlight of Microsoft Inspire, capping off what was a fantastic event for Fifty Five and Five. If you haven’t already, make sure you check out this year’s edition of our Inbound Marketing Excellence Report – our independent, exclusive ranking of the success of Microsoft Partner’s marketing efforts.

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Fifty Five and Five specialise in B2B marketing for tech companies around the world. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you multiply your leads with proven B2B marketing tactics.

Microsoft Inspire 2018 day two

Microsoft Inspire 2018 day two: shared success in ‘the age of partnerships’

  • We talk highlights from day two at Microsoft Inspire 2018
  • The second corenote, with insights from Gavriella Schuster on the successes of the Partner Network in 2018 and the goals for 2019
  • A key theme throughout the day on the importance of partnership for Microsoft

Here’s Fifty Five and Five’s take on day two of Microsoft Inspire 2018 – a memorable day in Las Vegas, bookended by an early morning beatboxing session and an evening under the Eiffel Tower. In between, we enjoyed another busy day at our booth in The Commons and the Corenote session from Microsoft’s Gavriella Shuster.

Beatboxing at 8am

Microsoft Inspire 2018 day two kicked off with a 15-minute set from musician, stand-up and beatboxer, Reggie Watts. Known to many as the band leader from The Late Late Show with James Corden, Reggie added some humour to proceedings with a satirical take on a Corenote speech. This cameo performance went down extremely well with the crowd and set the day up with a great start.

The ‘who’s who’ of Microsoft SLT

Tuesday’s Corenote session was both a comprehensive who’s who of Microsoft’s senior leadership team and a what’s what of Microsoft’s key product areas. The speakers included:

Each speaker offered valuable insight into each core area of the Microsoft offering – from Azure to Microsoft 365 to real life demonstrations showing how Microsoft’s technology is revolutionising the capabilities on offer to workers.

Opportunity vs fear

From a partner perspective, the most valuable part of the Corenote was Gavriella Schuster’s session, which outlined the successes of the Partner Network in 2018 and the goals for 2019.

Gavriella began by discussing what she believes to be at the centre of what the Microsoft Partner Network is all about and why it continues to bring about success for all involved:

  • Community
  • Partnership
  • Conversation

Specifically, it’s about driving community and partnership through conversation. This is the key to the shared successes enjoyed not only by Microsoft and partners but also the customers they both have in common. Since last year’s conference, Gavriella is proud to have had over 1,000 conversations with partners.

“[Conversations with partners] are my lifeblood, fuel me with energy and inform everything we do.”
– Gavriella Schuster

Gavriella then spoke about the enormous opportunity facing the Partner Network, and how this generated a mixture of excitement and fear. Excitement about the opportunity that new digital technology affords and fear about making the most of this opportunity.

Image source

The cloud is the modern gold rush

Just how big is the opportunity? Gavriella likened it to the California Gold Rush of the 1850s, saying that the cloud and data are the precious commodities being mined.

With the original gold rush, most fortunes weren’t made from the gold itself. They were made from the communities of businesses that spawned and developed around the gold rush. The businesses and partnerships that were formed in this ecosystem built the fortunes of those who migrated to California at this time. In the same way, it is the partnerships we build around the cloud that offer the best opportunity to businesses working in digital technology today.

A year of success for the Microsoft Partner Network

At Inspire 2017, Gavriella announced major changes to how Microsoft and the Partner Network would work together – including the creation of the One Commercial Partner organization. With a re-focus on three essential foundations:

  • Build-with
  • Go-to-market
  • Sell-with

…the new set up was a big change for partners. Today, Gavriella admitted to being nervous about these changes when making her Corenote session twelve months ago in Washington. However, the success of the last year has blown away all expectations. The numbers don’t lie. In the past fiscal year, Microsoft has:

  • Built 28,000 solutions, services and applications with partners
  • Generated over 3 million leads for partners
  • Jointly developed over 100,000 co-sell opportunities
  • Landed over $5 billion in partner sales

As Gavriella said: “That’s not bad for a first-year start!”

Partners leading the way at Microsoft Inspire 2018 day two

A key theme of Microsoft Inspire 2018 day two was the importance of partnership. It is the unique opportunity afforded by Microsoft Inspire that everyone can come together in one conference hall to celebrate.

Anand Eswaran said in the closing session of the Corenote that this era will be defined as the “age of partnerships”. We couldn’t agree more.

Check back up with us tomorrow where we re-cap the final corenote of Microsoft Inspire 2018, led by CEO Satya Nadella.

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Microsoft Inspire 2018 corenote

Microsoft Inspire 2018 first Corenote: Fifty Five and Five recap Microsoft’s flagship partner event

  • We recap the first corenote of Microsoft Inspire 2018
  • On Microsoft's past fiscal year, and the new one to come
  • A week on from the first day of the event, we pick our highlights from Microsoft's flagship partner conference

The Fifty Five and Five team were in Las Vegas, NV, for this year’s Inspire conference to learn about Microsoft’s past fiscal year, look ahead to the new one, and join with the ever-expanding Microsoft Partner Network. A week on from the first day of the event, we pick our highlights from Microsoft’s flagship partner conference.

Fifty Five and Five

An inspirational welcome

Although Inspire officially kicked off on Sunday 15th July, for most of our team, it began in earnest on Monday morning for the first of the three Microsoft Inspire 2018 corenote sessions (previously known as the ‘keynote’ sessions). The T-Mobile Arena provided an impressive venue for an equally impressive first session.

Microsoft Inspire 2018 corenote

As previous Inspire attendees will know, the conference usually begins with words from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Instead, Inspire kicked off with an inspirational welcome and introduction by Gavriella Schuster—Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Commercial Partner Channels & Programs—with Satya’s talk coming on Wednesday.

Gavriella, meanwhile, emphasised the importance and value of the Microsoft Partner Network, both to Microsoft and to partners. With 2018 being such a successful year for partners, 2019 has a way to go to surpass it. But that is why we are all here at Inspire. If there’s one message that comes across in all the sessions, it is this: now is the time to celebrate the year’s successes, but it is also the time to think ahead and push forward into 2019.

Some good news already

2019 has brought with it Microsoft’s fastest start to a fiscal year in its history. And Gavriella seemed confident that this year was going to be bigger and better than ever before and looked forward to coming back to Inspire next year with record-breaking numbers once again.

Microsoft Inspire 2018 corenote
Inspire kicked off with an inspirational welcome and introduction by Gavriella Schuster—Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Commercial Partner Channels & Programs.

More from the first Microsoft Inspire 2018 corenote

Following on from Gavriella, Judson Althoff, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Commercial Business, was enthusiastic and entertaining as always in discussing the opportunities of the intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge, focusing on how digital transformation is providing new ways to solve real-world business problems. Judson highlighted Microsoft’s work with Carlsberg, illustrating how the Danish brewer makes use of Microsoft Teams and Surface Hub to unlock the potential of collaboration in a digital world.

Trust and responsibility are key themes at Inspire this year and Brad Smith, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer, took on these topics in his session. He focussed on the public’s growing anxieties around trusting the big technology companies. He proposed Microsoft and its partners had a responsibility to directly engage in discussions around the issues that are causing these anxieties. And that it is key that technology companies do not shy away from meeting these issues, saying:

We need to engage in conversations with people around the world, and we need to back up those conversations, not just with words, but with deeds.”

Key to this is Microsoft’s commitment to the stance that privacy is a human right. At last year’s corenote, Brad Smith emphasised the need for a Digital Geneva Convention. This year, he demonstrated just how serious Microsoft was about this by talking about the Cybersecurity Tech Accord, which Microsoft has spearheaded and now has 44 companies signed up for.

Marketing magic for Microsoft Partners

It wasn’t just Microsoft providing food for thought. There are hundreds of sessions held at the conference during the week, including three from Fifty Five and Five’s own Chris Wright, who gave two sessions on Monday.

Microsoft Inspire 2018 corenote
Fifty Five and Five's Chris Wright did a talk titled “Marketing your product/IP, what you need to know”

The first of Chris’ talks, titled “Marketing your product/IP, what you need to know” outlined the differences between marketing products and marketing services. There was a huge turnout for this session. Microsoft actively encourages partners that provide services also to develop a product or an IP. The fact that so many people showed up highlights just how important this issue is for partners.

The second session was titled ‘What exactly is social selling?’ At the outset, Chris asked the audience if their organisations engaged in social selling. Remarkably not a single person said that they did. This session proved valuable for an audience that wanted to know more about this vital aspect of modern marketing.

Email Chris for more info or the slide deck for any of his Inspire sessions

Another busy year for us at Inspire

Every year at Inspire, we launch our annual report celebrating the digital marketing efforts of Microsoft Partners. The Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence report, to give its full name, ranks partners on their blogging output, social channels and their website.

Microsoft Inspire 2018 corenote
Rackspace won the race to the number one Microsoft Partner marketer due to its outstanding social media score.

Now Inspire has drawn to a close, you can download the report online here. Rackspace won the race to the number one Microsoft Partner marketer due to its outstanding social media score, which is the highest score in any category that we have seen since first putting the report together.

You can view the first Microsoft Inspire in full here. For those that don’t have those hours to spare, you can check back here as we recap all the important highlights from day two of Microsoft Inspire 2018 tomorrow!

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Microsoft partner marketing

Microsoft Partner marketing at Inspire 2018: an interview with Microsoft’s Jennifer Tomlinson

  • We talked to Microsoft's Jennifer Tomlinson about what the Microsoft Partner network does to help partners improve their marketing
  • What to expect for Inspire 2018 and how to come prepared

In the run-up to Inspire 2018 – Microsoft’s flagship partner conference – we spoke to Jennifer Tomlinson, Microsoft Senior Manager & Global Channel Marketing Evangelist, to find out how to make the most of the conference. Microsoft will be hosting several sessions dedicated to partner marketing over the four days in Las Vegas.

In this interview, Jennifer explains what the Microsoft Partner Network does to help partners improve their marketing, what it has lined up for Inspire and offer some tips on how to make the most of the conference.

Hi, Jennifer, before we discuss Inspire, can you tell us more about your team and how the Microsoft Partner Network helps partners improve their marketing all year round?

My speciality area is to coach partners to build strong marketing practices and, at the same time, building strong customer experience practices. Our team works with partners, helping to provide insights and research trends about their peers in marketing and the world of marketing at large. For instance, we highlight what’s working and what’s not in the ecosystem, so partners can more quickly get into market and try new things.

Advice and education is an important part of what we offer partners. We connect partners to a lot of content and resources to help them get into market more quickly and engage with customers.  Partners can put together effective campaigns combining their own messages with the Microsoft message. We also offer go-to-market services for partners, where we team them up with marketing agencies to execute their marketing plans.

What do you have planned for Microsoft Inspire this year?

When I think about Inspire this year, our content covers those three buckets:

  • Expertise, training and marketing best practices
  • Helping partners understand resources available from Microsoft partner marketing
  • Helping partners can co-market with Microsoft

We have also brought in some outside speakers to really dive deeper into content marketing, because content is the lynchpin of all marketing. There will also be a deeper focus on social media and social selling.

Part of our goal at Inspire is to put on insightful sessions that add real value to partners looking to improve their marketing. But also, we want to build awareness around what it is that the Microsoft Partner Network can do for them all-year-round.

Through the Microsoft partner website, we offer many self-service marketing resources. We know that there’s always more we can do to make sure everyone is aware that we have these resources available to them – and that is part of what we hope to achieve at Inspire.

The Fifty Five and Five team is gearing up for Inspire this year (you can find us at booth #1622). This is our fourth year at the conference – and it always seems like there is so much it can be hard to get to everything. Do you have any top tips for us and other partners about how to make the most of the conference?

Inspire is a large partner event and add that to Las Vegas and you definitely have a recipe for being overwhelmed. Some partners, especially first-time attendees, can find it overwhelming at first – and for everyone, even the most experienced Inspire attendees, it can be hard to know where to spend your time.

One anchor point that I would point out to partners is the lounges for the different countries and subsidiaries, because at those lounges you know that you can find a friendly face from Microsoft. The regional lounges can be found in the Expo Hall.

Also, in the Expo Hall, there’s an enormous Microsoft Partner Network area – this is another great place to learn about all the resources in the network and to find a friendly face who can help point you in the right direction.

Making the most of sessions

When it comes to making the most of all the sessions available, planning is essential. We have hundreds of sessions this year, so you have to stay organized and figure out what sessions are most important to you and your business and build your schedule around that.

In the Expo Hall there are also lots of great, smaller sessions, where there’s a diverse group of speakers from across the Partner Network with sessions on a lot of interesting topics. Of course, Chris Wright [Fifty Five and Five’s Founder], will be giving three of these sessions, which we are looking forward to.

Don’t forget the networking opportunities

But also, be sure to save time in your schedule for networking. Inspire is a fantastic opportunity to meet other partners, to meet with Microsoft, to meet with people you wouldn’t necessarily get the chance to meet with in the course of the rest of the year.

Prepare, prepare, prepare!

I have been to Inspire 11 times in the 13 years I have been at Microsoft and every time it can be overwhelming if you aren’t prepared. The logistical challenge of optimizing your schedule, so you can make the most of the conference, is a big challenge. My advice is to spend time on the Inspire site and looking through the sessions catalogue. There is a lot of choices, and you only have three or four days to do everything.

Inspire 2018: Microsoft Partner marketing sessions

Customer powered: building a real customer centric culture across your organization (Monday July 16 2-3pm, MKT01 Room 27 Oceanside Ballroom F) Find out more.

Smart marketing, inside stories from marketing superstars who transformed their businesses (Monday July 16 4-5pm, MKT08 Room 27 Oceanside Ballroom F) Find out more.

Engaging the anonymous web buyer: how to increase online engagement and drive conversion (Tuesday, July 17 4:15-5pm, MKT02 Room 9 South Pacific Ballroom B) Find out more.

Help! My IT messaging doesn’t work anymore: why you need a vertical go-to-market strategy and persona-based marketing (Wednesday July 18 4-5pm, MKT04 Room 11, South Pacific Ballroom D) Find out more.

Co-market with Microsoft Go-to-Market (GTM) Programs (Monday July 16 12:30-1:15pm, MCBB North, Level 0) Find out more.

Scale your business through Partner to Partner engagements (P2P) (Monday July 16 3-3:45 pm, MBCC North Level 0) Find out more.


Jennifer Tomlinson is Channel Marketing Evangelist, Senior Manager, Global Partner Channels and Programs at Microsoft.

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Microsoft cybersecurity why a digital geneva convention matters

Microsoft cybersecurity: why a Digital Geneva Convention matters

  • The cybersecurity background which has lead to Microsoft calling for a Digital Geneva Convention
  • What the Digital Geneva Convention is and why it matters to Microsoft Partners

At the RSA Conference 2017 – and then again a few months later at Inspire – Microsoft’s Brad Smith called for the big technology companies and governments around the world to come together and agree on a ‘Digital Geneva Convention’. The aim was to introduce an international treaty to protect the rights of citizens around the world from nation-state sponsored cyberattacks.

Just over a year later, we wanted to see if Microsoft had made any progress with this. In this blog post, we will look at:

  • The human cost of cybercrime
  • What the Digital Geneva Convention is
  • Microsoft’s progress towards establishing a Digital Geneva Convention
  • What Microsoft Partners can do to help
  • What we can expect next

The human cost of cybercrime

First, let’s look at the cybersecurity background which has led to Microsoft calling for a Digital Geneva Convention.

State-sponsored international cyberattacks may have their roots in international politics, yet the consequences of these attacks often hit innocent citizens hardest. All too often, in the wake of these attacks, we get lost in the statistics and forget that there is an impact on individual human beings – their businesses, families and, in some cases, physical and mental well-being.

The human cost

What the WannaCry attacks illustrated in stark terms was the impact of cyberwarfare at the human level. In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) was so badly disrupted that appointments and operations had to be suspended. When emergency operations are cancelled at the last minute, when patients are prepped and lying on the operating table, people’s lives are put at risk. Microsoft argues that it’s human stories like these that highlight the drastic need for a Digital Geneva Convention.

The cost to small businesses

Of course, there’s also a business cost – with small businesses particularly at risk.

It’s reported that 60% of small businesses hit by cyberattacks go out of business within the next six months following an attack, which is no surprise when you consider that, in 2017, cyberattacks, on average, cost small businesses over $2million. What makes this more alarming is that 58% of the victims of malware attacks are small businesses.

Time to act? Microsoft certainly thinks so

These examples demonstrate that cyberwarfare can have life-altering consequences for ordinary citizens caught up in the disputes between nations. What’s more, with attacks like NotPetya and WannaCry spreading indiscriminately across the globe, citizens in all nation states are at risk and in need of protection.

This all highlights a need for change and a commitment from the big tech providers like Microsoft, Apple and Google, and the international community to do more.

What is the Digital Geneva Convention?

The original Geneva Convention was established as early as the 1860s but has developed over time and continues to do so. The convention as we know it today came together in response to WWII in 1949. The Digital Geneva Convention would aim to protect the rights of citizens against cyberattacks. Just as the original treaties were created to protect innocent civilians from the effects of warfare, it’s argued that a new ‘digital’ convention is required for cyberwarfare.

As Brad Smith said when he first proposed the idea: “Just as the Fourth Geneva Convention has long protected civilians in times of war, we now need a Digital Geneva Convention that will commit governments to protecting civilians from nation-state attacks in times of peace.”

The rise of cyberwarfare is just the latest in a long history of the weaponisation of new technology. It is argued that as times change, so should international standards.

Has Microsoft made any progress?

The proposal of creating a Digital Geneva Convention is a big and bold pronouncement from Microsoft – and one that has been greeted with large support, including two Geneva-based organisations - the World Economic Forum and the UNHCR. In some quarters it was suggested that it was just PR from Microsoft – released off the back of a year’s worth of high profile cyberattacks and some bad press about the vulnerability of Windows XP machines. But the progress made suggests Microsoft are serious about making it a reality.

Since the RSA Conference 2017, Microsoft has been active in driving the Digital Geneva Convention forward. The most significant development, announced in April 2018, is that 34 global technology companies have signed up to the Cybersecurity Tech Accord, marking the first big steps to making Geneva 5.0. a reality.

The Cybersecurity Tech Accord commits the signatories to four principles:

  1. We’ll protect all customers no matter who they are or why they’re attacked
  2. We won’t help anyone use our technology against our customers
  3. We’ll do more to help people and businesses protect themselves
  4. We’ll work together to build greater resilience and security

The companies that have signed up to the Cybersecurity Tech Accord include Facebook, Oracle, Symantec, Nokia, Cisco, SAP, LinkedIn and HP.

What does this mean for Microsoft Partners?

The current cybersecurity landscape provides a huge opportunity for Microsoft Partners. Although the threat is constantly changing, there’s one constant: not only do businesses need help understanding the risks but also in implementing the right cybersecurity solutions for themselves. This means finding a robust but affordable solution that empowers and enables modern flexible working, while protecting the business at all times.

Microsoft Partners need to be active in providing up-to-date information about security threats and the solutions to counter these. Social media channels are the perfect way to do this, to reach a wider audience and engage with followers about issues they care about. Here are our tips on how to build a solid cybersecurity marketing strategy.

What’s next? Inspire 2018

As we prepare for Microsoft Inspire 2018 (July 15th-19th), we are hoping to hear a lot more about the Digital Geneva Convention. Brad Smith will be leading one of the main Corenote sessions. Last year, he gave a wide-ranging session on the topics of GDPR, cybersecurity and the political climate – and how these affect Microsoft Partners and their customers. This year, we are hoping for much of the same and expect to hear more details about how the Digital Geneva Convention is developing. We will be sure to share any significant updates with you here on this blog.

Fifty Five and Five will be at Inspire this year. Come and say hello to the team at booth #1622. We hope to see you there. Alternately, you can get in contact with us here to find out more about our services.


Fifty Five and Five specialise in B2B marketing for tech companies around the world. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you multiply your leads with proven B2B marketing tactics.