Microsoft Inspire 2020 kicked off on Tuesday – this time in an online-only format. Like the rest of the partner network, we were disappointed to miss out on attending in person (last year, Queen and Adam Lambert played – yes, it was epic). But it hasn’t stopped us from enjoying the highlights from the comfort of our homes. Vegas will still be there next year.
As well as the Nevada sunshine and musical headliners, another regular highlight at the Microsoft conference are the annual keynote addresses. In case you missed it, we’ve put together the main Inspire 2020 keynote takeaways from the speakers on the first day, which was led by Gavriella Schuster (Microsoft Corporate VP of Commercial Partners) Judson Althoff, (Executive VP of Worldwide Commercial Business) and Nick Parker (Corporate VP of Consumer and Device Sales).
The COVID-19 pandemic
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic was a central talking point for this year’s event. The speakers celebrated frontline workers throughout – highlighting how they continue to make daily life possible. Schuster, Althoff and Parker also commended the many Microsoft partners that have built solutions to help the world adapt to these trying times.
Althoff referred to the ‘digital first responders’ behind frontline workers – those that have built rapid solutions to make continued education, remote working and accessing necessary services possible. He praised these people for connecting the world digitally and helping communities to move forwards.
Accelerating the cloud shift
Althoff explained that the growth of the cloud is still crucial in helping customers achieve their economic goals:
‘Our solution areas, our 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.’
He continued by explaining that the world needs this innovation now more than ever. He called on partners to help in addressing customers’ needs – whether they have the consulting practices that bring these virtual solutions to life, or the assets and intellectual property as an independent software vendor (ISV) or software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider.
Opportunities for remote working
On the topic of remote working solutions, Schuster explained that the pandemic has changed the way we work forever. She referenced how demand for Microsoft Teams has surged, and highlighted how the real transformation could be seen when customers learnt the ‘full value of Microsoft 365 as a secure, remote work collaboration solution.’
To expand on this point, Schuster turned to Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) as a notable opportunity for partners moving forwards:
‘With WVD, organisations can get up and running in minutes from the Azure portal. You have the flexibility to choose the virtual machines, the regional locations, and you can set up multi sessions for the users…You can manage that environment and turn it into a managed service opportunity – without much heavy lifting.’
Moving towards Managed Services
Schuster told her audience that now is the right time to meet customers where they are. She said that, with customers uneasy about big up-front costs, it’s possible to develop a managed service practice and show up as a hero to the customer.
‘What happens if you don’t take this step? Now may be the time. Maybe this year, your investors are expecting a little less from you, and the customers are asking for monthly terms. You can make the investment into managed services that will help your customers and build your business long-term. And if you don’t have the resources for all this support, this is a great opportunity to partner together.’
Partners were ready for this moment
Perhaps the most inspiring part of this keynote was Schuster’s comments on the Microsoft partner ecosystem. She explained that, while there is uncertainty all around, the MPN manage it by creating certainty – wherever they can:
‘You were built for this moment in time. You are the certainty…we were ready because the solutions we’ve been building together over the last 18 months are the same ones our customers need right now – solutions and services around remote work, business continuity, security and cloud migrations.’
Each year at Microsoft Inspire, we discover more about the partner network and empower companies to achieve more through their digital marketing strategies. If you want to improve your marketing get in touch with the team at Fifty Five and Five today.