Tuesday, 18 July 2017

5 Key Learnings from Microsoft Inspire

By Michael Freeman

2017 has been an incredible year for the technology industry. This was displayed with Microsoft holding their largest Partner Conference to date; the attendee numbers were through the roof and we saw the highest number of female delegates than ever before, showing promise that our industry is ever moving onwards and upwards.

The location was Washington DC, one of the most iconic cities in the world and home of the United States congress. This was the perfect setting for many of Microsoft's hard working and innovative partners to gather and share their knowledge and wisdom. I personally met some truly inspirational people who are doing both important and incredible work on Microsoft's platform and beyond.

Westcoast were announced as finalists for World Wide Distributer of the year which is an incredible honour for a company the size of ours. Together, with the help of our Partners, we will strive to turn that nomination into a win next year.

The following are five key learnings that I, along with Westcoast, have brought back to the UK from Inspire.

1) The 4 Solution Areas

The main man Satya Nadella opened the event with his usual charismatic swagger, by reiterating Microsoft's key mission and announcing the re-imagining of their service offering. He spoke heavily of the four key solution areas, these are; Modern Workplace, Business Applications, Applications and Infrastructure and my particular favourite Data and AI. Satya described these as the "ingredients" to complete all of the digital transformation projects we have been hearing about for the last few years. This shows that Microsoft appear to be realising the gravity and importance of the full solution, in the past they have been very clear about the customers end goal but before now didn't really have all the answers or services in place to allow partners to deliver these.

More information on these goals can be found here.

2) Microsoft365

On the face of it Microsoft365 looks like a rebadged version of Secure Productive Enterprise (SPE) but it is so much more than that. The core of the service is Office365 E3 or E5 (for the business version it will include Business Premium), Windows 10 Enterprise and EM+S (hence the SPE reference) yet in this instance it is all managed in a single dashboard so you can get a single user completely set up in one fell swoop! If you mix this with a bit of Power BI and Dynamics365 (sold separately) and all of the boxes have been checked. The Business flavour will not be available until the back end of this year but will include some exciting little extras; connections, invoicing and listings. We will be running sessions around this service in due course so watch this space.

More information on this new service offering and the exciting extras can be found here.

3) Industry Sectors: In a bid to align themselves with what their partners have been doing for years, Microsoft announced their restructuring across the different Industry Sectors: Finance, Manufacturing, Retail, Education and Health and Government. With this "Industry Focused Partner Powered" set up they are going to release more content that is relevant to these sectors but more excitingly they have restructured their internal resources to assist partners who deliver solutions in these industries, this goes all the way from sales though to development and go to market.

If you have anything you are trying to get traction with in these areas then get in touch with your Account Managers now.

4) Azure Consumption

Michael, Michael, Michael change the record... I know Azure consumption is a big topic still and it will be for the foreseeable future, so I will keep this short and sweet. Microsoft have changed the way their internal staff are incentivised on Azure, it is now done solely on consumption across the board meaning that they are more inclined to help you as a partner regardless of the method of purchase. So don't be afraid to share your proposals with Microsoft, as they have some valuable resource for you to take advantage of.


5) Partner Ecosystem

Now this is a topic that is very close to my heart... the partner ecosystem has never been more important than it is now and it will only continue to grow. With the advancements in technology and the pure vastness of solutions today it is too much for one business to supply, so make friends, team up and deliver solutions together. We, at Westcoast, have created a habitat for partners to collaborate together that we are truly proud of, the opportunity for us all is massive and working together is the only way we can really make the most of it.

If you would like to become part of this or already are part of this and have an area you need help in then get in touch. We are nothing without you guys.

In short Microsoft put on one behemoth of an event with the key message that Partners are the most important cog of their operation, they are starting to understand what the Partners need to become even more successful. It may not be perfect but its definitely a big step in the right direction.

Finally on behalf of the Westocoast Cloud team I would like to say a massive thank you for your continued hard work, we have had a tremendous year which is only made possible with you doing what you do best. We have picked up a few awards this year and are looking to scoop up even more and with your help we can maintain our No 1 status. Heres to a cracking 2017/18!

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