Top 10 takeaways from Microsoft Inspire 2021

By the Blueprint Team

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella started Microsoft Inspire 2021 highlighting that to be successful, every company must become a technology company in their own right.

That is a sentiment we at Blueprint Technologies have been expressing for some time, and a call to action for Microsoft’s 400,000-plus partners to help customers and communities step up their tech intensity to be even more successful.

“There is no going back to digital adoption levels of two years ago, there’s only going forward,” Satya said during his keynote speech at Inspire 2021, the company’s annual conference to share strategic initiatives and product updates with its partners. “This will require a step function change in the level of tech intensity in the years ahead.”

Inspire 2021, held virtually for the second year, highlighted shifts in Microsoft’s priorities and partner resources that will help partners achieve success, build trust and unlock opportunities for their customers. Through Microsoft’s channel partners, Nadella said his “ambition is to foster foundational innovation that creates entire ecosystems even greater than the platforms themselves.”

Here are 10 takeaways from Microsoft Inspire that will empower partners to do just that.

#1

Upleveling partner skills

As company’s work to become technology companies and become more technical, Microsoft partners need to match that tech intensity, and Microsoft is investing in partners to help deepen those technical capabilities.

“By investing in and accelerating technical skills across the partner ecosystem, we can match customer needs with joint capabilities,” Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Channel Sales and Channel Chief Rodney Clark said in a blog post about Inspire. “We also plan to become increasingly industry focused and aligned.”

During his keynote, Clark said Microsoft is increasing Microsoft’s fiscal year 2022 investment and skilling by more than 250%, which includes deep technical training through things like cloud weeks, virtual hands-on labs and digital technical skill and content that’s on demand.

#2

Being "the best partner for our partners"

Because Microsoft is only successful if its partners are successful, as Satya put it during his keynote, the company is investing in its partners more than ever before in fiscal 2022.

Microsoft Corporate VP for Global Partner Solutions Nick Parker said Microsoft will be prioritizing and increasing investment for solutions built for the new industry clouds, which include retail, health care, manufacturing, financial services and nonprofit (More on the just-launched Sustainability cloud below). Another area of focus will be Microsoft Viva (More about new integrations to that platform below).

Watch the replay of his keynote here.

#3

Microsoft operating systems join the cloud

Introducing Windows 365 – a new cloud service that delivers a full Windows 10 or Windows 11 experience in the cloud on any device. Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Microsoft has taken its operating system to the cloud. “With just a few clicks, you can set up your Cloud PC and stream the full Windows experience from the Microsoft Cloud to a personal or a corporate device,” Satya said.

Windows 365 makes Windows 10 or Windows 11 a cloud service, streaming the full Windows experience — including apps, data and settings — to any device from the Microsoft Cloud. In this new era of hybrid work, Windows 365 is designed to give organizations large or small a new, flexible and secure way to empower their workforces to be more productive and connected regardless of location.

Read more about it here.

#4

Increasing access to Dynamics 365 data

Stay up to date on Dynamics 365 records with automated notifications and connected workflows. Image courtesy of Microsoft.

Microsoft announced that Teams customers will now receive access to view and edit Microsoft Dynamics 365 data in Teams at no extra cost, whether or not they have a Dynamics 365 license, removing a barrier to productivity within the customer workflow. This allows, for example, a finance employee to streamline order fulfillment, by sharing purchase orders and payment details with their counterparts in sales.

Permissions and access rules can be configured to help ensure only the appropriate users can access customer record data. Customers who need advanced features or analytics can purchase Dynamics 365 to further interact with the data.

#5

Significant fee reduction in the Microsoft Marketplace

As software needs continue to rise, partners are looking to simplify the deployment process and are increasingly relying on a commercial marketplace to manage their software portfolios. “When we step back, software and digital technologies represent the most malleable and infinite resource to drive growth for the world,” Satya said.

To that end, Microsoft announced they’re reducing fees to 3% for every transactable application published in the Microsoft commercial marketplace across the Microsoft AppSource and Azure Marketplace digital storefronts. This reflects a significant reduction from the standard 20% industry fee.

#6

Launching a Partner Center portal

Partners in the Azure Synapse ecosystem can now include their solution directly in a new Partner Center, which is accessed from Synapse Studio. With the new Partner Center, Azure Synapse customers can browse partner solutions to learn more about each solution, connect to the partner service via an API and automatically start a trial.

#7

Project “Orland”

Project “Orland” – in limited preview – is a new experience in Partner Center that empowers Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) partners to proactively engage with and nurture customers. Partners will receive recommendations, such as customers with trial conversion opportunities, customers who may need follow-up or customers ready for new workloads to deploy from their existing customer install base. Read more about Project Orland here.

#8

Expanding employee engagement opportunities

Microsoft Viva, an employee experience platform that brings together tools for employee engagement, learning, well-being and knowledge, has added new integrations with more than 20 partners, including Workday, Qualtrics and ServiceNow. When these become generally available in the fall, they’ll complement those announced in February, including SuccessFactors, Cornerstone OnDemand and Headspace.

#9

Microsoft doubles down on sustainability

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability is a new cloud offering that will help customers across all industries meet their carbon reduction and sustainability goals. It will be available in preview later this year and will enable organizations to record, report and reduce their emissions on a path toward net zero. Microsoft is looking for partners to build specialized industry-specific applications, data sources and emissions data connectors so customers can more easily invest in and achieve their sustainability goals. Read the Cloud for Sustainability announcement here for more information.

#10

Microsoft tackles security and device management

Microsoft 365 Lighthouse, now in public preview, is a response to requests to better manage security and device management capabilities across customers. Lighthouse helps managed service providers secure devices, data and users for small- and medium-sized businesses that are using Microsoft 365 Business Premium. It simplifies the onboarding of tenants by recommending security configuration baselines optimized for SMBs and provides management views across customer environments. Read more about it here.

Your partner of choice for digital transformation

Blueprint is here to partner with organizations to build out digital capabilities and make them tech companies in their own right, creating the opportunity and achieving the success that will positively impact customers and communities. Reach out to us here for more information on how we can help you.

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Held virtually for the second year, Microsoft highlighted shifts in its priorities and partner resources for the upcoming year. Here are the biggest takeaways from the event.