Microsoft Inspire Day 3: The Challenges of our time

Day 3 of Microsoft Inspire, and our final Vision Keynote for the week, focussed around the challenges of our time, and the opportunities that we can address together. Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith led the session, discussing topics such as the political instability and threats in cyber security that we are currently facing at a global level.

"Every customer has a story... and an opportunity"


Brad went on to tell the story of Warren Johnson (1847-1911), who invented and built the first electrical thermostat. Even at that time, Johnson realised that a human problem could be solved with technology. Johnson's company, Johnson Controls, is still to this day continuing to innovate and reinvent itself. This inspiring story shows how we can work with every customer to follow a similar journey - to overcome issues and challenges, and to evolve to thrive, compete and survive.


"Technology for technologies sake isn't particularly valuable. Applying technology towards solving human issues is where you unlock the value."


With these advances in technology, we have an enormous responsibility to secure the digital state, and this begins with privacy. Traditional protection of information in paper form needs to be preserved in the cloud, and with GDPR coming in, this is more crucial than ever. Brad then explained the implications of GDPR, and how as a company Microsoft is preparing for this in three key ways to ensure we can help and prepare our customers:

An equal challenge, connected to privacy is cyber security. As demonstrated in the headlines over the last few months,


"Cyberspace is the new battlefield"


With 90% of intrusions started by email, we have made big advances to help keep our customers safe online. With O365, security features are in place to protect information in documents, and we can use real-time information to stop links to malicious sites working. We have also channelled new energy and resources into responding quicker than ever before to threats with our cyber defence centre. We are also proud to be the only company to be using the law to disrupt state attacks.


Yet we are so far away from declaring victory, and cyber security is a shared responsibility. The Wanna Cry attack showed how vulnerable Windows XP is - hugely valuable in it's time - but we need modern technology to deal with modern threats. And this is where the great opportunity lies for partners to work with us to help our customers.


Take a look at our new Security Practice Development playbook to help you build out a secure cloud practice.


Next on stage was Gavriella Schuster, CVP, One Commercial Partner. Gavriella discussed the difference between knowing something and trying to implement and execute that idea. Relating this to our partner ecosystem, we need to speed more time focusing on the how, and not just that what. The three most common questions Gavriella experiences from partners are:


  1. How do I engage with your field?
  2. Why are you so complicated?
  3. How do we show up better together at the customer?


To address these, and to really consider the 'how' in our partner ecosystem we need to make a big, bold change. And this links back to why we are making the biggest change to our sales team that we have made in the last decade. We are going through a digital transformation of our own to make it easier for you to work and engage with us.


As we heard from Satya on Monday, we have our four core solution areas for our go-to-market, and our sales and marketing will be fully focussed on these - modern workplace, business applications, data & AI and applications and infrastructure. By simplifying and focussing on these core areas, we are creating opportunities for our partners and enabling you to grow with us.


The final question can be addressed by aligning our sellers with the field and our partners. With incentives in place to enable sellers to sell your solution, and by paying them only on Axure consumed revenue, they need you, our partners, more than ever.


Gavriella ended with her three requests for partners this year:


1) Keep giving us feedback

2) Use the tools

3) Be the change!

Watch the video to hear more from Gavriella on how your can monetise your business and the resources available for you.

Brad then concluded the keynote with a hugely insightful interview with Political Scientist, Ian Bremmer. The key takeaways from their discussion was around the future of the global economy, with countries aligning and thinking more differently than ever before to create a hybrid economy. The national security aspect of technology is at the heart of this impact on our global economy. No longer led by one country, globalisation isn't going away. Money, people and data are moving across borders faster than ever before.