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Eight Awesome Takeaways From Inspire ‘20

cloudThing’s Thoughts & Insights on Microsoft Inspire 2020

Wed Jul 22 2020

Microsoft Inspire 2020 has now come to a close and, although no one got to go to Las Vegas, Microsoft’s pivot to a completely online environment should be seen as a huge success.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO made many appearances and was always interesting, engaging and insightful.

That goes for the sessions led by Gavriella Schuster and Judson Althoff, Microsoft’s Vice President for worldwide commercial business.

Covid-19 and remote working, for obvious reasons, were the main topics of conversations for most sessions but amongst those there was still a lot of attention paid to what lies ahead for Microsoft and their Partners.

Of course, many of these revolved around Microsoft Teams, Digital Transformations, and remote working but by no means were these the only opportunities raised.


So, for anyone that missed Microsoft Inspire 2020 here’s the eight items cloudThing thinks will prove to be the most important.

The Three R’s (And One P)

Resiliency, Recovery & Re-Imagining the Future.

These were the buzzwords of Microsoft Inspire 2020 and on the lips of every presenter.

Resiliency to take everything COVID has to throw at you and come out stronger, Recovery to get onto the Cloud and then of course Microsoft’s awesome set of really cool tools to help Re-imagine the Future.

That message of the Three R’s went hand in hand with their commitment to Digital Transformations becoming Purpose-Led.

Microsoft’s new and very clearly stated goal for the future was for Digital Transformations to leverage tech to drive societal and business outcomes for good in terms of sustainability, accessibility and equal opportunities.

Microsoft Teams

Moving on to one of the most obvious ones, we think all Microsoft Partners will have noticed the surge in demand for Microsoft Teams in recent months and this trend is likely to continue for many months to come as the world adapts to the ‘New Normal’ of remote working for many.

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Adoption is only part of the opportunity here. What’s truly transformative is what happens when customers start working in Teams and learn the full value of Microsoft 365 as a secure, remote work collaboration solution

Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft Vice President

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A lot was mentioned about ‘video burn-out’, that sense of ennui we’ve all been feeling when invited to another video call, whether it be a friend, family member or work meeting as well as those missed opportunities for relationship building in the office, the random encounter in the corridor or the three minute gossip over the water cooler.

In true Microsoft style though, Nadella revealed that Microsoft has already tackled these problems head on and spoke about upcoming releases for Microsoft Teams, the first being something called ‘Together Mode', due this August.

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Together Mode is a new experience in Teams that uses AI to digitally place participants in a shared background. This makes it feel like you’re sitting in the same room--reducing background distractions making it easier to pick up the nonverbal cues that we miss. So, conversations are much more natural--and more importantly, more inclusive. Our research shows that the brain exerts less effort when participating in a meeting using the Together Mode, compared to the standard grid view

Satya Nadella -  Microsoft CEO

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Pivoting With A Pandemic

Perhaps no other organisation has done more to help businesses pivot, adapt and overcome to the issues the coronavirus global pandemic has caused.

Whilst Inspire was filled with examples of the amazing work partners had done, in some cases deploying a remote working solution for an organisation in a matter of hours using Microsoft Teams, perhaps the best indication of that was the announcement of Microsoft’s fourth quarter fiscals that showed a 13% growth YOY!

Race To The Cloud

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If it looked good to get out of your data centre, pre-COVID, it looks really good to get out of your data centre now. The growth of the cloud is still very important to helping customers achieve these 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.

Ultimately, the world now needs us more than ever before. And I’m counting on all of you as our partners to help make that happen.

Whether you have the consulting practices that bring these virtual solutions to life, or the assets and intellectual property as an ISV or a SaaS provider--we need your help to address customers’ needs, now more than ever

Judson Althoff – Executive Vice President, Microsoft Worldwide Commercial Business

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Tying very much in with this years theme of Digital Transformation and pivoting with COVID-19, Microsoft made it very clear they were expecting large scale shifts to the Cloud from businesses, organisations and even Governments who had previously relied on On-Prem solutions and that Microsoft’s Partners needed to be ready for that shift.  

Windows Virtual Desktop

Given this year's focus on remote working and the fact that it’s the first Inspire since Microsoft released their Azure-based virtual desktop solution (WVD), it wasn’t surprising to see it mentioned several different times in different contexts.

It’s another of their products that has seen a huge surge in demand for organisations shifting to a WFH model and Gavriella Schuster was quick to point out in her keynote address the potential for partners going forward.

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With WVD, organizations 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 even manage that environment and turn it into a managed service opportunity, without much heavy lifting.

Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft Vice President

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Updates To Microsoft Azure

For anyone looking for actual product updates or technical specs of upcoming releases, the Azure sessions were exactly what was needed.   

Microsoft announced a whole host of new hybrid migration, data, security & compliance, and developer tools for Azure.

cloudThing will be talking more in-depth about these in the coming days, weeks and months but for anyone that can’t wait, they included information on the next gen of the Azure Stack HCI, new Azure Migrate features as well as Azure Lighthouse security improvements that include MFA & privileged identity management options. There was also mention of third-party connectors for Azure Sentinel.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 - Customer Voice

Perhaps one of the biggest announcements of Inspire ’20 was the product launch of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Voice. 

D365 Customer Voice will improve the customer experience by enabling organisations to feedback customer responses and reviews into their customer view in real time.  

You can expect to hear much more on this shortly (watch this space)!

Microsoft Partners (That’s All Of Us) 

A lot of time during Microsoft Inspire ’20, both in its own sessions and interwoven amongst other sessions, was spent discussing Microsoft’s relationships with its partners (all good) and opportunities for the future.

Amongst all that, there seemed to be several key areas Microsoft wanted to highlight.

The first, predictably enough, was more Partners shifting to a Managed Service.

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I’ve had so many conversations with partners, who’ve been putting off the transition into cloud and managed services, as well as monthly subscription billing. Now is the time. This is the opportunity--when you can meet customers where they are.

For years I’ve heard your concerns about how to transition your books from up-front revenue to subscription service, and you’re worried about disappointing your investors but today, with customers uneasy about these big up-front costs, you can develop a managed service practice, build a monthly, and show up as a hero to the customer.

Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft Vice President

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Finally, the big man himself was very keen to emphasise that Microsoft’s commitment to their Partners remained and that they were working hard behind the scenes to minimise changes for partners during and post the COVID era.

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For Microsoft to do well, you all as partners have to do well. That’s ingrained in our business model. That’s why I always talk about us being a partner-led company. Ultimately, Microsoft’s intertwining technology focus areas offer a tremendous opportunity for our partners because I think the architectural coherence of our tech stack and our solution areas make us so much more relevant as an ecosystem to our customers.

That’s never been more the case than during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, where “digital technology and transformation is key. I would say, digital tech intensity is key to both resilience as well as transformation and that’s what you see with the partner opportunity, in fact.

Partners are able to work with businesses, both [to] create that business continuity and transformation.

Satya Nadella-  Microsoft CEO

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Wed Jul 22 2020

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