Microsoft Inspire 2020: Empowering partners to make more possible

 |   Gavriella Schuster - Corporate Vice President, One Commercial Partner

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Our partner ecosystem is essential to delivering transformative solutions for customers. Each year, we hear countless success stories from customers around the world and across industries who depend on our partners’ innovation, dedication, and service. But in the past year — and in the past few months especially — we’ve seen firsthand exactly what our partner community offers in a dramatically changing world: unlimited potential. The potential to adapt, to connect, to innovate, and to achieve more.

The Microsoft Partner Network serves as a catalyst to equipping businesses and customers with the technology and tools needed to succeed in an evolving digital economy.

Now in its 17th year, this year’s Microsoft Inspire will be the first time we come together for a digital-only event, a shift that underscores the times we’re living in, as well as our partners’ resilience. It’s an example of how, even amid widespread disruption, our ecosystem has continued to help customers adapt to a dramatically changing environment.

And when you combine the power of our offerings with the innovation of our partners, that impact takes on even greater significance:

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From Africa, to Antarctica, to the Americas, Asia, and everywhere in between, our partner ecosystem is driving digital transformation around the world.

Microsoft Inspire is an opportunity for those partners to connect, to reflect with us on the past year, and to look ahead at how we can collectively grow both in the near future and long term. In the past week alone, we’ve made some exciting announcements with CitrixLand O’Lakes and Finastra as we head into the conference.

Here’s a glimpse at some additional announcements we are sharing today:

We continue to build innovative ways for partners to serve customers and manage their business amid changing work environments.

  • Enhancements to Azure Lighthouse, which was initially announced during Microsoft Inspire in 2019, bring multi-factor authentication and Privileged Identity Management support, which are direct results of customer feedback.
  • Microsoft’s series of Cloud Practice playbooks for partners continues to expand, with two new playbooks aimed at helping partners build an effective cloud practice: the Microsoft Azure Center of Excellence playbook guides partners on how to scale an Azure-focused practice, and the App Innovation Practice Development playbook outlines the customer demand for cloud-based applications and how partners can be successful using Microsoft technology.
  • Two new bundled services for Lenovo Managed Services are designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses support Microsoft software productivity, security and collaboration.

Power Platform and Dynamics 365 are supporting the path back to the workplace by delivering critical digital infrastructure needs.

  • New Power Platform solutions can help bring employees back to the workplace safely by enabling customers with Location Readiness, Employee Health and Safety Management, Workplace Care Management and Location Management tools, so they can continually monitor conditions and respond where needed. Our partners are critical in bringing these solutions to our customers. This was evident during our initial COVID-19 response in March and April, with solutions such as the crisis communications template, which enabled customers to quickly stand up customized solutions for their specific needs because our partners were there and ready to help.
  • Innovation across Dynamics 365 applications including Customer Voice, Connected Store and Fraud Protection are focused on making sure we’re helping customers weather the current crisis while also setting them up for future agility and resilience. These new capabilities will help sellers and merchants accelerate the shift to digital operations, understand and respond to customers’ needs, and set them up for success as the world continues to respond to the crisis while ultimately establishing a digital foundation to reimagine what’s next.

Azure continues to help companies accelerate their journey to and in the cloud.

  • Azure Stack HCI, the latest in Microsoft’s hybrid portfolio and now in public preview, brings hybrid capabilities to customers’ datacenters while enabling them to leverage existing skills and investments. As customers are increasingly moving their workloads to the cloud to save money, increase efficiency and innovate, we are committed to giving them more choice and the best solutions for their hybrid needs. Some of our key partners already delivering Azure Stack HCI solutions include Dell EMC, HPE and Lenovo.
  • Azure Migrate enhancements enable customers to respond to rapidly changing conditions in record time by conducting richer datacenter assessments, enabling server migrations and adding modernization for containerizing applications. We are also introducing support for Azure VMware Solution assessments.

Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams deliver new solutions for a secure and collaborative workplace.

  • Teams is delivering new ways for Microsoft partners and developers to extend the Teams meeting experience with third-party apps and services that can make meetings more interactive, engaging and effective.
  • New capabilities in Teams help Firstline Workers connect and engage with information, apps and coworkers while enabling organizational agility. The new Communities feature provides access to Yammer announcements, updates, discussions and events directly from Teams; Walkie Talkie, now in public preview, enables secure push-to-talk communication; and new features streamline shift scheduling and task publishing for Firstline Managers.
  • New public preview of Microsoft Endpoint Data Loss Prevention in Microsoft 365 helps customers identify and protect information on endpoints. Because it’s built into Windows 10, Office Apps, and Microsoft Edge, no agent is required, and it can be deployed quickly. It is also integrated with existing data loss prevention in Microsoft Teams, Exchange and SharePoint, helping customers meet compliance requirements across Microsoft 365.
  • New enhancements to the Power Platform experience within Teams makes Teams an even more powerful hub for teamwork and business process. Microsoft Dataflex, a relational database now built into Teams at no additional cost, enables customers to create, deploy and manage apps and chatbots with Power Apps and Power Virtual Agentwithout ever leaving Teams. This new functionality will empower business users to rapidly respond to changing business needs and create customer solutions within the collaboration app they use every day to get work done.
  • Universal Print is a new Microsoft 365 service solution for customers who need a simple, easy, secure print experience as they move to the cloud. The service opens many opportunities for reseller and hardware partners as customers look to deploy printers without a need for a complex hybrid print setup.

We continue to make strong progress on our goal to be carbon negative by 2030 by bringing customers and partners along on the journey.

  • To accelerate business action towards a net zero carbon economy, Microsoft is working together with eight other leading corporations to launch a new coalition, Transform to Net Zero.
  • New private preview of the Microsoft Sustainability Calculator provides our cloud customers transparency into their total carbon emissions – scopes 1, 2 and 3 – resulting from their cloud usage. An update to our Supplier Code of Conductrequires suppliers to calculate and report their greenhouse gas emissions data.
  • The first investment from the $1 billion Climate Innovation Fund is focused on technologies to transform the world’s energy and transportation systems. A new partnership with Sol Systems focuses on securing 500 megawatts of renewable energy and strategic investments in communities disproportionately affected by environmental challenges.

We’re excited about the possibilities ahead as we continue to empower partners with the training, skills, support, value and security needed to drive new opportunities and positive outcomes for customers.

More details on the announcements listed here and many others can be found in the Microsoft Inspire Book of News. Visit https://news.microsoft.com/inspire2020/ to follow news and highlights from Microsoft Inspire. We look forward to seeing where the potential of our partner ecosystem will take all of us in the months to come.

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