Microsoft’s Inspire conference roundup

July 21st, 2022 by Stephen Jones Leave a reply »
For the third year in a row, Microsoft’s Inspire conference, the marquee partner event of the year, was a relatively low-key virtual affair.

The Day 1 and Day 2 keynotes, which featured talks by CEO Satya Nadella, new chief partner officer Nicole Dezen, security corporate vice president Vasu Jakkal, and top channel execs like Nick Parker and Judson Althoff, featured few surprises.

The main driver of the presentations as expected was the Azure cloud.

Other recurring themes from the conference, which wrapped up on Wednesday.

  • Remote collaboration tools (particularly Microsoft Teams and Viva) are critical to supporting today’s hybrid work environments.
  • How Microsoft’s ongoing investments in its security products, from the omnipresent Defender line to the relatively new Entra family, can help meet the challenges of more sophisticated, expensive and high-stakes cyberattacks.
  • Data is everywhere, and Azure’s AI capabilities are what’s needed to harness that data for practical use. “This is the age of AI,” Nadella said during his keynote talk.

Inspire was notable for being Microsoft’s first major partner event since it announced this spring it is retiring the current Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) in October, and replacing it with the new Microsoft Cloud Partner Program (MCPP). The MCPP will distinguish partners according to their proficiency in six areas:

  • Data & AI (Azure)
  • Infrastructure (Azure)
  • Digital & App Innovation (Azure)
  • Business Applications
  • Modern Work
  • Security

Microsoft envisions these proficiency areas as being aligned with specific customer sales targets.

Parker, head of Global Partner Solutions, described this concept at Inspire using the metaphor of a house:


Microsoft for Industry
Another departure this year was Microsoft’s hyper-focus on industry. — each in different stages of completion.

 The company has six planned industry-specific cloud offerings –

  1. Financial Services,
  2. Healthcare,
  3. Manufacturing,
  4. Retail,
  5. Nonprofit
  6. Sustainability.

At Inspire, Julie Sanford, vice president of Go-to-Market Strategy and Programs at Microsoft, described these as “vertical expressions” of the Microsoft cloud. Microsoft is pushing partners to leverage these various industry cloud platforms and to tailor their offerings for the industries that suit them best.

As Althoff, Microsoft’s chief commercial officer, said during his portion of the keynotes, “Our partners are key to our industry strategy.”

“Go vertical” isn’t a new exhortation from Microsoft; the company has been encouraging partners to take a vertical industry approach for years. Recently, however, Microsoft has been making its industry goals more explicit — for instance, by developing those six distinct industry-specific cloud platforms. Moreover, when the MCPP launches, it will have built-in incentives for partners who take Microsoft’s industry directive seriously.

Sanford said during the Inspire keynote that the MCPP will have industry partner designations, starting with health, financial services and retail. Microsoft intends to launch “co-design sessions” with partners to help develop these designations, she added.

Inspire News Roundup of Azure Migrations and App Modernization:
Microsoft Lists Partners’ Cloud Objectives at Inspire
Microsoft Inspire 2022: Enterprise Collaboration Upgrades on Display
New Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty Helps Government Customers Meet Requirements
Microsoft and Oracle Announce Database Partnership
Microsoft Enlists Nuance Tech in New AI-Powered Contact Center
Microsoft Touts Cost-Saving Benefits of All-in-One Security Solutions
Microsoft Cuts Ribbon for ‘Azure Space Partner Community’

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