A few weeks ago Belatrix attended the Microsoft Partnership event, now called Inspire. Here, it was clear that Microsoft is looking to change the technology and business landscape via new partnership models. Given Microsoft’s continuing influence over enterprise technology, over the past few weeks I have been reflecting on the event and what it means both for Microsoft partners (such as Belatrix), and more generally its customers.
Here are my three key takeaways.
Microsoft will partner more closely with software companies in the future
Following the restructuring of their sales department in recent months, Microsoft’s new strategy is to form deeper partnerships and commercial channels with software companies and make ISVs more important to their ecosystem. This will mean they are building solutions with their partners, and ultimately marketing and go to market with them. It is a shift from what Microsoft termed “partner-led” to “partner-first”, where it will it will “build, go to market, and sell” with its partners. In addition to this, Microsoft wants to help its channel partners build more industry expertise to help clients solve the specific problems they face in their business – focusing in particular on financial services, manufacturing, retail, education, health, and government. Microsoft will also be organizing not just their account teams along industry lines, but also engineering and marketing.
The huge potential of Microsoft Azure for the private cloud
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has arguably become the default standard for companies using cloud services. Despite AWS dominating the space, Microsoft Azure is a key priority for the company and is driving growth (and profitability). Indeed, in Microsoft’s recent quarterly earnings release, revenue from its cloud computing business was up 11% over the same quarter one year ago, at $7.43 billion. Microsoft launched the Azure Stack, which is an exciting proposition for businesses still wary of using the public cloud – it’s a hybrid version that enables enterprises to host services within their own data centers. Many organizations in industries such as financial services, still have security and compliance demands which means they do not want to put their core data and applications in the public cloud. The Azure Stack means you can have the Microsoft Azure stack, the same as in the public cloud, but running in your own datacenter.
Digital transformation drives change at Microsoft as well as at its customers
Digital transformation was a key theme at the event. Microsoft is focusing on developing the applications businesses need for digital transformation, whilst also enabling the infrastructure in order to do this effectively. They presented numerous stories of digital transformation, of course with Microsoft technologies at their heart. Microsoft 365 Enterprise and Business is at the core of their application approach, and they emphasized the importance of integrating their different products to a much greater degree. Meanwhile, the flexibility of deployment options (whether as SaaS, in your own data center, or as a hybrid) for Microsoft products is a central reason why buyers continue to want to purchase and deploy them. And this flexibility means enterprises have greater choice in how to use these technologies in their digital transformations.
Microsoft itself is going through fundamental change as it also tries to become a digital, cloud-first company like many of its customers. It’s continuing in its brutal transition away from their traditional license model. But at the same time it appears to be being successful in carving out a distinct space, separate from Apple or Amazon, and is managing to transform itself more effectively than other industry giants such as IBM. It’ll be exciting to see how Microsoft continues to transform over the next couple of years.