My reflections, thoughts, takeaways and event summary from Microsoft Inspire 2018, July 15-19 in Las Vegas, this is a link heavy post so grab a coffee reserve 15-30 minutes and klick away! (or browse through it and save it for later as a resource to information – see the links at the end of the post for great content)
Inspire is the former WPC (Worldwide Partner Conference) held annually and focused on the Microsoft partner community, informing on strategic business roadmaps, industry trends, technology evolutions and much more. All to provide partners with means, insight and inspiration to build a successful business for customers and themselves in the spirit of Microsoft´s mission “Empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more”.
I think it goes well with our vision also “To be the leading digital innovator, realizing results for our clients and their customers through the power of people and the Microsoft ecosystem”. Great combination and great opportunities for being involved in the coolest digital journeys in the industry 😉.
Inspire is a new venue for me, I have always focused on the technical and therefore Ignite is more natural for me. But I made the finals for individual Microsoft partner of the year award in the category “Partner Seller Excellence in Technology, Sales and/or Licensing” and the partner awards are held during Inspire.
Microsoft Inspire + Microsoft Ready (“Inspired to be Ready, Ready to Inspire”)
This is the first time Microsoft brings a partner conference (Microsoft Inspire, approx. 18-20 000 partners) and a Microsoft internal conference (Microsoft Ready, 20 000 + Microsoft employees) together.
Satya said that this was a momentous milestone, bringing these two communities together to act as one and serve our customers as one tech community, spanning 17 million people within that combined community. And to kick off the fiscal year with this initiative will make a difference.
Personally, I found this to be a great effort and a nice try, there is still some work to be done I think in sparking the intended networking this was supposed to accomplish. The networking opportunities was there with the two combined events, but I still had to be very active to find Microsoft people to connect with that I would be cooperating with in my daily work.
News – partnering
In terms of news I think the event lacked a bit, but this is probably due to me being more technically focused, the news I am usually waiting for will most likely come at Ignite.
The event was more geared towards tuning the OCP (One Commercial Partner) structure and getting, a well-functioning machine, trimmed even more to seize the magnitude of opportunities when businesses strive to become digital. The magnitude referred to is that direct tech is today 5% of global GDP and forecasted to double by 2030. And the then remaining 95% – 90% of GDP will be subject for the digital transformation that will span every sector, so there are magnitudes of opportunities to capture.
Gavriella Schuster said that this fiscal year is probably the most successful year in the partner organization to date. 5 Billion dollars in partner sales is proof of that something is working well.
Co-selling is one of the messages, instead of partners selling Microsoft solutions the Co-Selling is about Microsoft selling partner and Microsoft solutions together and vice versa. Microsoft sellers will continue to be rewarded for selling partner solutions with 10% of the contract value.
Quote from Gavriella Schuster, the VP of OCP “We are turning a corner from partnering to partnership”
Dynamics 365 was mentioned several times as a focused big push in the coming years. Judson Althoff said that it is the best investment to build business around with prediction for massive growth. The demo that talked to me the most, was in combination with a service scenario using Dynamics 365 and HoloLens.
AppSource, solution maps and Microsoft 365 launchpad
To make it a bit easier to scale the Co-selling initiatives, Microsoft have set up some resources, portals and application sources that will be more central going forward.
· Solutions maps (no link)
A small shout out to Pickit and Mathias Björkholm, followed them the past 5 years, inspirational journey and now ambassador for AppSource.
Focused solution areas and one ubiquitous distributed computing fabric
Satya reiterated the intelligent cloud, intelligent edge vision, but that is no longer a vision, it is reality.
Now the next phase starts, and we have 6 focus areas for the intelligent cloud, intelligent edge.
· Modern life
· Modern Workplace
· Business applications
· Applications & Infrastructure
· Data & AI
And happens simultaneously in 3 “verticals”
· People-centered experiences
· Ubiquitous computing
To push that reality to next phase we are taking Azure to Azure Stack, to Azure IoT Edge, to Azure Sphere and we have one ubiquitous, distributed computing fabric. We will have one programming model that is event-driven, serverless, so you would write an application that truly works across all of this.
Satya referenced Mark Weiser (Chief Technologist at Xerox PARC in the 1990s)
“The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it”
Satya talked about a Case western case where tissue fingerprinting was used to better detect cancer in the early stages as a great example of where the one ubiquitous, distributed computing fabric come to play. Read the case here
AI is far from ending up in any AI winters again, constant progress and breakthroughs are presented, and more funding’s are added due to that progress.
Human parity breakthroughs.
These breakthroughs are something Microsoft includes in their mission to empower everybody and democratize them, so everybody can use them easy.
Satya mentioned several examples of work being done to democratize AI.
Used to simulate environment to train any autonomous movements, democratizing autonomy to every tool set bringing possibility to train Autonomy everywhere.
Xiaoice Highly intelligent bot in Chinese with 500 million friends, presenting weather in tv etc. (wonder if Xiaoice got the current recognition due to googles latest showcase on Google Duplex?) Anyway, competition is healthy, and China is probably more mature to adopt this tech in faster pace due to the maturity they possess with WeChat embedded everywhere etc. I think Microsoft made a smart move to develop this for China, get the data, evolve it and the democratize it to rest of the world.
On the AI note I would like to mention the investment China is doing in AI! “according to CB Insights, China accounted for only 9% of global AI deal share but nearly 48% of global AI funding in 2017”
All these solutions and services are really built to add Business value, IT has historically, and I think still in most of cases, only been viewed as something that is supporting the business. That has changed and now we all look how we can reinvent leveraging Cloud, AI, and Ubiquitous computing.
Satya demoed his work process and routines, he showcased several M365 Endpoints (Android, iPhone 😊) and bragged about having the Surface GO LTE 😊. Overall the office experience keeps getting smarter and infused with AI and hooked in the ubiquitous computing fabric, he impressed with the workflow story and ease use for business value.
I also need to mention a now famous Satya quote – If you want to be cool, go join somebody else. If you want to make others cool, come join Microsoft
Here are some highlights that Microsoft put together, browse to all the sessions and core notes (keynotes) to view the content on demand.
Links to Resources
· AI Lab
Microsoft is on a roll and very transparently trying to help every partners and customers to use their technology. In the links in this post you find all information from starting a business to reimagine the business to build one from scratch (using Microsoft tech 😊). You find links to practices, learning portals, projects and all other sort of information.
Hope this has given you some insights to what Microsoft pushed at Inspire and a sense of what to focus on going forward. I invite to discussions in the comments or on Twitter @Michael_Jonsson