Microsoft is doubling down on its investment in its partner ecosystem, sharing growth and profitability, as it reveals a number of product and services updates during its first fully digital Inspire conference.
Microsoft chief partner officer Rachel Bondi recognised how COVID-19 has impacted partners and their opportunities in the market, but said the company was continuing to have a shared commitment to partner growth and profitability.
Bondi highlighted that Microsoft does this through a number of initiatives such as doubling the investments made into customer workshops, partner incentives and training.
“We’re going to continue, and in some areas, increase our investment,” she said. “We have one of the most powerful ecosystems in technology today and we’ll continue to invest in that.
“Partners are continuing to look at how to look for new opportunities, deepen customer relationships and accelerate customer success in new ways. Partners are also asking for help to showcase their solutions and innovate in the SMB [small- and medium-sized business] market, and take those businesses to the cloud in a cost-effective way.”
Within Microsoft Australia, Bondi revealed it was investing its own employees, which will continue to grow as it sees the opportunities unfold.
Microsoft recently landed a deal with Woolworths to migrate its IT infrastructure onto Microsoft Azure in order to support its SAP/4HANA upgrade, along with striking a new five-year strategic multi-cloud technology partnership with National Australia Bank and Bank of New Zealand.
Partners were also keen to leverage Microsoft’s ecosystem and network, Bondi said, as more partners were seeking to work together, as well as address areas of recruitment and retaining talent.
Diversity and inclusion were also on top of the agenda. Recently, Microsoft launched its Male Champions of Change program, which has seen a further four partners sign on to take part.
In the lead up to Inspire, three Australian partners were recognised for their efforts in the past year including Accenture/Avanade, Barhead Solutions and LAB3.
Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of One Commercial Partner at Microsoft, reiterated that the company's partner ecosystem was essential for delivering transformative solutions.
“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,” Schuster said.
“We’re highly dependent on our partners in delivering value to our customers. The value of Inspire is connecting with other partners, networking and understanding where we see the opportunity with customers in the year ahead.
“We are committed to give partners the power to build innovative products and services and enable any scenario or function for any customer, anywhere.”
A number of product and services updates were revealed during its digital Inspire conference.
These included the Microsoft Azure Center of Excellence and the App Innovation Practice Development Cloud Practice playbooks to guide partners with building cloud practices and two additional bundled services for Lenovo Managed Services aimed at SMBs.
Changes to Power Platform and Dynamics 365 were also revealed, with new power platform solutions including Location Readiness, Employee Health and Safety Management, Workplace Care Management and Location Management tools.
Schuster claimed the need for such products arose during the company’s initial response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“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 customised solutions for their specific needs because our partners were there and ready to help,” she said.
For Teams, the Power Platform experience within the service has been revamped with the relational database Microsoft Dataflex built into Teams at no cost, allowing users to create, deploy and manage applications and chatbots with Power Apps and Power Virtual Agent from within the Teams service itself.
On the Dynamics 365 front, updates are slated for the Customer Voice, Connected Store and Fraud Protection applications, aimed at expediting the move for sellers and merchants to digital operations.