by Stephen White | July 17, 2018 | Comments Off on Doing Business with Microsoft – Inspire Announcements Part 2
Microsoft Inspire kicked off yesterday with the typical musical introduction and energy that accompanies the annual day 1 keynote. What followed though was relatively quiet, reinforcing messaging from 2017. Microsoft’s lead messages of ‘Digital transformation’ and ‘Empowering all individuals and organizations to do more’ were intertwined with empathy – effectively consolidating the ‘Hit Refresh’ message.
My own notes from day 1 of WPC 2015 included the ‘notable absence of digital transformation messaging’. By Inspire 2017 that had changed dramatically, with Digital Transformation front and center, 2018 business strategy messaging follows suit.
Microsoft speaks to digital transformation quite generically. Carlsberg were leveraged as a case study to bring the message to life and in effect demonstrate how Microsoft’s digital transformation message reflects two facets, Digital Workplace (a combination of Modern Workplace and Business Applications as Microsoft names their solution areas), and Digital Business Transformation which is a product of Intelligent Cloud (Microsoft solution areas ‘Applications and Infrastructure’ and ‘Data & AI’).
Jutson Althoff emphasized Microsoft’s role in digital transformation is dependent upon the differentiation and capabilities built by partners on the Microsoft platform. A statement that will surprise few given the on site audience of partners. That statement should be judged as more than an attempt to charm the audience, but actually genuine recognition of the extent to which Microsoft’s success in affecting transformation is dependent upon partners.
Business structure remains largely unchanged for the coming year. Enhancing focus and investment in vertical industries and solutions, going deeper in priority domains for ‘Enterprise’ clients, whilst ‘SMC’ clients saw reduced account management were the principals of the 2017 sales reorganization. Some customers will be relived given the upheaval in the past year, where many clients experienced gaps in their Microsoft relationship, and a number will be seeking a stronger direct relationship with what represents their most significant technology partner. On this note, perhaps the day 1 keynote missed an opportunity, to provide clarity on future relationship expectations for those whose business relationship has been disrupted, rather than strengthened.
Microsoft president Brad Smith’s annual piece on Trust and Privacy was brought forward from day 3 to day 1. The need for Microsoft to take action rather than just talk to the issues of Security, privacy and ethics of AI were the focus topics, whilst the theme of responsibility extending beyond private enterprise to governments resonated throughout. WannaCry was used as an example of the scale of the challenge which may continue to apply, the message clearly included a tone of managing out threats by maintaining an up to date secured environment, whilst also acting as the platform for Microsoft’s pledge to the Cybersecurity Tech Accord,
Smith then transitioned to position Microsoft’s empathy message as he drew a parallel between ethics of AI and diversity, the need to represent the needs of all in various forms and the degree to which each warrant focus. The digital divide and access to broadband were also called out as targets for Microsoft initiatives.
Not for profits and the needs of developing nations were notable focus points of the empathy messaging using Microsoft Philanthropies. Two figures were offered in respect to nonprofit organizations, where 4 million organizations are eligible for donations from Microsoft, employing 20 million people, whilst those are very significant numbers they point to the nature in which larger nonprofits require volume licensing.
Microsoft’s philanthropies may be a topic again on Wednesday when Satya Nadella takes the stage, Smith closed however with a few words addressing the role of AI for Accessibility, underscoring the empathy message.
In summary, day one of Inspire 2018 reiterated extensively existing messaging from 2017, perhaps laying the foundation for content addressing how Microsoft will address it’s client engagement through day two and three.
To be continued ….
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