Microsoft Inspire 2019 Review
A little over two weeks ago, I packed up my Quadrotech shirts, hoodie, and blue shoes and boarded my flight to Las Vegas, Nevada for the annual Microsoft Inspire Conference. Inspire is Microsoft’s worldwide partner conference. Companies involved in Microsoft’s Partner Network travel from around the world to spend a week meeting with other partners, attending various sessions and keynotes led by Microsoft executives, and learning about Microsoft’s strategic priorities for the year ahead. Microsoft’s Fiscal Year starts in July, so it’s also common that they release some new product information and programs around this time.
This year Microsoft Ready was rolled into Microsoft Inspire. Microsoft Ready is a conference for Microsoft employees. In a sense, it’s like an annual kick-off where new employees, and employees in customer-facing roles attend training sessions, meet with counterparts, and learn about partners that might be able to help them solve specific customer problems (we can sell our products alongside Microsoft through their Co-sell program).
While I didn’t have the opportunity to watch the Corenote presentations in person, I did watch them streamed live while walking to the Hub in the morning.
Kicking off the Inspire Corenote on Monday was Gavriella Schuster, CVP, One Commercial Partner. She started her presentation by addressing the elephant in the room (the previously announced changes to Microsoft Competencies and IUR benefits). Schuster reiterated how important partners are to the Microsoft ecosystem and admitted that they underestimated the value of those benefits to partners and the impact that it would have on partner organizations. She then confirmed Microsoft’s earlier announcement to reverse those changes and promised to continue to listen, learn, and grow hand in hand with Microsoft partners. She concluded with a message of thanks and gratitude towards partners.
Schuster also had a quick chat with Simon Sinek for some quick tips on building successful relationships. Sinek emphasized the importance of ‘human skills’ (he apparently dislikes the term ‘soft skills’). Those human skills include empathy, patience, and a genuine interest to help the other party. These skills can only be fostered through human to human interaction. It’s these skills that help build trust (the foundation of successful relationships). Honesty is also a huge component in building trust and relationships. They then switched gears a bit to leadership, and how to successfully lead. These are a few main takeaways:
- “Leadership is not taking charge, it’s about taking care of those in your charge.”
- Ask for help and seek guidance – many don’t receive leadership training, or at least ‘good’ leadership training.
- Be honest. If leaders aren’t honest with their teams, they can’t expect honesty in return from those they lead.
FY’19 Success & Transformation
Judson Althoff, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Business then took the stage. He focused on the transformation and growth that Microsoft experienced in FY’19 touching on the areas of:
- Industry leadership – Customers, analysts, PR are taking notice of Microsoft, partners and their impact
- Technology solutions – Point products have evolved into integrated and innovative solutions that make people more productive
- Customer success – “Living with the customer beyond the deal” – it begins and ends with partners who drive customer relationships forward
- Digital engagement – in FY’19, Microsoft has worked to globally scale customer acquisition and engagement with partners
- One Commercial Partner – More than 22k IP co-sell wins in FY’19 (joint Microsoft & Partner deals)
Althoff then outlined the investments Microsoft has made in their culture, which begins with a growth mindset, and ends with making a difference in the world. Those tenets are made possible by being customer obsessed, embracing a diverse and inclusive environment, and integrating teams through ‘One Microsoft’.
Tech Intensity & FY’20
Satya Nadella stepped onto the stage on Wednesday. He also started with a message of thanks to partners and Microsoft employees. He then turned to some numbers – 10% of global GDP will come from tech by 2030. While that remaining 90% of global GDP will come from non-tech industries, it’s growth will be driven by tech and digital capabilities. He also addressed the concept of ‘Tech Intensity’. This concept isn’t new, but seems to be even more relevant as intelligence and technology is infused into every industry and business.
Tech Intensity = (Tech adoption x Tech capability)^Trust
It’s about both adopting the latest and greatest tech as fast as possible, while also building out your own technology and software capabilities. And this must be done with trust (trust that Vendors and Partners will act ethically and protect information responsibly).
Satya Nadella highlighted the 6 Solution Areas which are a focus of Microsoft’s strategy moving into FY’20:
- Modern life
- Modern workplace
- Business applications
- Applications & infrastructure
- Data & AI
With key tech breakthroughs in these areas, he again stressed the importance of trust and the fact that trust is not a one time thing. He stated, “You can’t claim trust, you have to earn it each day.” Before getting into demos and successes, he ended with a call for better alignment with Microsoft, partners, and customers through ongoing communication, collaboration, and accountability.
You may be wondering how Quadrotech is involved in this type of event. Well, this year, Quadrotech was a Silver Sponsor of Microsoft Inspire + Ready. There are a few benefits that come along with a silver sponsorship. We had a 10×20-foot booth in the expo hall, a dedicated meeting room, and a dedicated meeting table. Our logo was also on all of the Sponsor signage throughout the event.
We had really engaging conversations with prospective partner organizations at the booth. We also held several pre-scheduled meetings with both existing and potential new partners. The main purpose of these meetings was to introduce and dig deeper into how our solutions can add value for partners, which really resonated with meeting attendees.
Throughout the week the team also attended a number of partner dinners and networking events. These allowed us to engage with partners and Microsoft employees in a more casual environment and have a little fun.
When the conference finished, I was thrilled to get out of the 110+ F (43C) degree heat and return home. However, I’m excited to see what we build with our partners from the foundations we laid at the event!
If you’d like to check out the Microsoft announcements made at Inspire or watch the keynotes on-demand, here’s a link to Microsoft’s recap page (the Minecraft Earth and AI Neural TTS and Hologram demos were pretty cool!).
If you’d like to learn more about partnering with Quadrotech, please reach out.