Once again, Microsoft Inspire 2022 exceeded our expectations. This 2-day annual partner-focused event was jam-packed with announcements, future concepts and insightful talks from a host of industry leaders.
This year’s major focus was on supporting partners to move organisations from digital transformation to delivering on the digital imperative.
We’ve distilled the key takeaways for you to digest, and new features to look out for in the coming months.
The Digital Imperative
Satya Nadella’s keynote focused on 2 key imperatives for partners in moving the drive to digital forward. One, catching the organisations who are being left behind, and two, helping organisations who are already on board to realise the maximum benefits of shifting more processes to digital and access the full potential of the cloud.
“Over the past few years, we’ve talked extensively about digital transformation, but today, we need to go beyond that, from talking about digital transformation to delivering on the digital imperative for every organisation.”- Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
Nadella advised that embedding digital technology into every process of an organisation is the difference between those who will thrive and those who’ll get left behind. It shouldn’t be a hard sell – it’s about doing more with less – applying technology to enhance what you do, differentiate more easily and build resilience.
There are 5 key digital imperatives which are Microsoft’s focus for FY23 onwards:
1. Migrating to the cloud
This is about supporting infrastructure, as leaders in every industry migrate their digital workloads to the cloud. The agility, security and depth offered by the cloud is the key to organisations getting ahead. Partners have an opportunity here to provide expertise in helping clients realise the benefits – driving operational efficiency, delivering faster time-to-value and reducing costs. And the arguments make themselves – it is up to 80% less expensive to run Windows Server and SQL Server virtual machines on Azure than on Microsoft’s nearest competitor.
“We have the largest partner ecosystem of anyone in the industry, helping to deliver the next generation of private wireless solutions.”
2. Empower fusion teams
In an era of unprecedented demand for developers, across a broad range of sectors, there a wealth of opportunities just ripe for the taking. Organisations want to equip fusion teams of Pro and citizen developers with the best tools for maximum impact.
- Power Platform, Microsoft’s leading business process automation and productivity suite for domain experts, now has more than 20 million monthly active users. This tool means anybody can have an impact on an organisation.
- Enterprises are adopting DevOps as the default way to deploy code. By 2025, 70% of new applications will use low-code or no-code tools.
- GitHub allows fusion teams to do much more, especially when combined with Power Platform. 90% of the Fortune 100 use GitHub, and it’s 30% cheaper than competition – it’s affordable and scalable.
- Azure PaaS (Platform as a Service) solutions such as Azure Container Apps and (for Java) Azure Spring Apps Enterprise are helping organisations build more resilient, cloud-native apps.
3. Unify data and apply AI models
The challenge here is to get your data state in order and apply large AI models as platforms. Partners can help organisations achieve both, delivering more insights, more actions and more automation. The Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform unifies data governance, analytics and operational databases. This allows organisations to spend more time on creating value and less time on managing their data estate. Furthermore, Azure has the most powerful AI computer in the cloud and is building AI models that Partners can apply to any use case.
4. Collaborative business processes
This imperative is about Microsoft’s focus on the modern workplace and business applications. Hybrid work is now a fixture, so it’s important to help organisations facilitate flexibility in how and where people work, and get to grips with how this impacts on processes. It’s also time to consider how automation is supercharging collaboration.
- Microsoft is the only cloud that supports everything an organisation needs for hybrid work.
- Investments and new features are happening in MS365, Teams and Viva.
- New announcement for Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform, unifying Dynamics 365, Azure, Teams, Power Platform and Nuance.
5. Prioritise security
Security is the top priority for any organisation undergoing digital transformation. With cyber attacks on the rise, Microsoft monitors 25 trillion threat signals every day. In response, Microsoft has devised the most comprehensive security, identify, compliance and management solutions on the market.
- Microsoft Entra secures identity and access
- Microsoft Purview tackles compliance and data governance
- Microsoft Priva manages privacy
- Microsoft Defender and Seintinel tackle security
- Microsoft Security Experts enable you to tap into their own threat research expertise.
Nadella’s overarching message to Partners, was that Microsoft is the only service to offer best of category products with best of suite solutions. He emphasised Microsoft’s commitment to running the best Partner programme in the industry. A compelling final takeaway!
Announcements of new features, platforms and applications
Microsoft Teams Updates
It would not be Microsoft Inspire without the announcement of some new products and features, and it is clear that Microsoft are not slowing down their investment in Microsoft Teams.
There are now more than 270 million Monthly Active Users (MAU) of Microsoft Teams and in the last year alone Microsoft have added over 450 features to the platforms. Here are some of the newest additions to look out for:
- Excel Live (Similar to PowerPoint live) – enables collaboration on a shared spreadsheet directly within a Teams meeting.
- Collaborative Annotations – built similarly to the whiteboard functionality in teams, allowing all meeting participants to draw, type, and react on top of content shared in a meeting.
- Video Clip – a new feature within Teams chat, enables users to send a video message. Simply record and edit it straight from the Teams app.
- Teams Connect Shared Channels – this feature enables collaboration with people inside and outside of your organisation in one shared space.
Microsoft Viva Updates
Last year Microsoft announced Microsoft Viva, a digital employee experience platform to keep employees connected with knowledge, insights, learning, communication and communities, right within the flow of work in Teams.
There now over 1000 organisations using Microsoft Viva globally. Here are its latest features:
- Viva Goals will be available in August 2022. It’s a goal-setting feature that helps organisations share strategic priorities, driving business results more cohesively.
- Viva Engage is a platform for people within an organisation to network and socialise, allowing users to make posts and upload content, albeit within Teams. It has similarities with Yammer and may eventually replace it.
- Viva Sales was also announced, an application that brings together any CRM, Microsoft 365 and Teams. It automatically populates CRMs from information in Office apps.
Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform
One of the most exciting updates from Microsoft Inspire was the announcement of Microsoft’s Digital Contact Center Platform, a new collaborative architecture bringing together Dynamics 365, Teams, Power Platform, Azure and Microsoft’s newest addition, Nuance. In combination, they create a next generation “digital contact centre”.
The platform will deliver best-in-class AI that powers self-service experiences, live customer engagements, collaborative agent experiences, business process automation, advanced telephony, and fraud prevention capabilities.
It was clear from the Inspire keynotes that security remains a priority for Microsoft. Compelling statistics were shared including the average cost of a data breach – currently $4.2m per incident – and the projected annual cost of cybercrime – estimated at $10.5 trillion by 2025.
With these statistics bringing the case for better security into sharp focus, Microsoft outlined the need for a multi-layered approach, reminding partners of their integrated, end-to-end offering across all clouds:
- Threat Protection via Microsoft Defender and Microsoft Sentinel.
- Identity and Access Management via Microsoft Entra.
- Compliance and Privacy via Microsoft Priva and Microsoft Purview.
Microsoft also committed to supporting partners in delivering world-class security solutions via the following 6 investment areas:
- Security Immersion Events – these will be interactive sessions to help customers familiarise themselves with Microsoft Security and get an understanding of their value via demos and hands-on experience.
- Build intent workshops – Partners can deliver ready-made workshops to drive customer conversations around security and accelerate opportunities. Partners can earn $5k per engagement.
- ECIF funding – The End Customer Investment Fund helps partners provide 1:1 training to enhance customer skills and/or the adoption of Microsoft technologies.
- Security Usage Workshops – another avenue for partners to earn an additional $5k per engagement, these will be launching in October 2022 with more details to follow.
- OSU Incentive Programme – The Online Services Usage (OSU) Incentive Programme rewards Partners up to $13k for driving the usage of eligible workloads.
- Microsoft also announced a new investment programme, starting 1st October 2022. Partners who help customers deploy security capabilities within Microsoft 365 E5 and Microsoft Azure will be eligible for up to $25k per account.
There were some exciting Azure updates for FY23:
- Satya Nadella announced the launch of 10 new datacentre regions, in 10 markets, across 4 continents. These will be rolled out gradually over the next year, helping Microsoft deliver faster services and address data residency needs.
- Oracle Database Service for Microsoft Azure – this will enable customers who use Oracle to migrate their services more effectively. They will have a seamless link between Oracle Database Services and Azure with a simple migration process, and integration with Azure Active Directory.
Opportunities for Independent Software Vendors (ISVs)
Microsoft demonstrated its understanding of the value that ISVs bring to their products and customers. Demand for cloud solutions is set to exceed $1trillion by 2025 and so they are recognising more than ever the need to support and invest in Partners.
At Inspire, Microsoft announced the ISV Success Program, a comprehensive package of benefits specifically designed for ISVs which includes cloud credits, access to sandboxed, technical resources and developer tooling to help them accelerate their software production.
The programme will help users build and publish apps faster, accelerate innovation, and reach more customers. It’s currently in private preview with a view to being generally available in Autumn 2022.
Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty
Over the last year, Microsoft has been investing in industry-focused cloud packages, including clouds for health care, manufacturing, and non-profits. Microsoft have now announced their Cloud for Sovereignty, a cloud package designed specifically for the government sector.
This will allow customers in government to effectively migrate and modernise their workloads, whilst ensuring they meet security, compliance and policy requirements effectively.
UK Local Keynote with Clare Barclay and Orla McGrath
Despite being hosted in the US, Microsoft Inspire also delivers local keynotes. The intY team joined the UK Local Connection Keynote with Orla McGrath and Clare Barclay, to learn about Microsoft’s impact on the UK market and its Partners.
Clare Barclay, the Microsoft UK CEO, described the strong partnerships they have with the likes of The Met Office, ASOS and The National Cyber Security Centre which are driving innovation. In particular, she sees Microsoft Partners being a huge growth engine for the UK economy.
She also spoke about Microsoft’s commitment to skilling; Microsoft have pledged to train 15.5 million skilled people by 2025 and have already delivered 900k across the UK.
They are also continuing their successful apprenticeships programme – currently there are 30,000 apprentices around the UK building careers in the technology sector.
Finally, Orla McGrath, Global Partner Solutions Lead in the UK spoke about the UK market opportunity and the scale of the business opportunity at hand for Partners. She explained the total addressable market for IT spend in the UK of $121 billion, another compelling motivation for us and our Partners to act on.