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Microsoft Inspire: an image of Microsoft's future



[Disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author.]

Partner conferences are among the big tech companies that small businesses do not have the resources to maintain. Among their interesting points are the seriousness with which the supplier takes its ecosystem of partners, the balance between direct sales and the efforts of the partners.

Partner conferences are also places where partners go to find out where the company's priorities will be in the future. If all goes well, it's like sales events with a lot of energy and sales-oriented programs, commitment from partners and customers, and great recognition for those who generate the most turnover. and can demonstrate exceptionally high fidelity.

But Inspire is a vision of Microsoft's future, which is of paramount importance in this sector. And the heads-up that I've had this week on the show has helped identify some interesting new items.

Dynamics 365

If you did not experience a dead end, you know that Microsoft has largely rotated its server and server operating system and application roots to a cloud service provider. Azure has replaced Windows as the most strategic platform. The focus on Dynamics 365, a comprehensive management dashboard with massive improvements in artificial intelligence, validates this fact. And this tool seems to be at the heart of what they will be presenting to Inspire.

Much of the event seems to surround this effort and how partners can not only sell it but serve it themselves to improve their own operations and better manage their customer relationships. Very similar in terms of implementation (from Microsoft's point of view) to sales management tools, this offer is impressive when it is correctly implemented.

But what should be the most interesting is that this should allow Microsoft to better understand where the partners are and where they are struggling, which allows Microsoft to more effectively manage the efforts of partners to make them successful . Of course, this also allows partners to better manage their own stores, effectively raising all boats.

At one point, companies seemed unable to understand that marginal partners could have a negative impact on their brand. Previously, when I was doing more surveys, one of the interesting results was the degree of satisfaction of Microsoft customers when they worked with partners rather than directly with Microsoft. In fact, I observed this personally when we used a partner for an Exchange project (the partner did not know Exchange and I did not choose them).

The widespread use of this tool should significantly improve partner performance over time, not only for Microsoft, but for their customers as well.

What does this mean for the future

In the long run – and if successful (Microsoft's execution has improved tremendously under Satya Nadella and Steve Guggenheimer, who leads this effort, is one of their most competent leaders) – Dynamics 365 is expected to result in a multichannel program much more efficient over time. Tools such as: AppSource, PowerApps, and the Azure Marketplace provide partners with an increasingly rich set of tools and a much larger commitment from Microsoft.

Once done, it should be much more difficult to differentiate between a direct work experience with Microsoft and a connected experience through one of the highly engaged partners using these tools. Initially, there will likely be a wide range of experiences based on how partners use the tools, which suggests that it may be worthwhile to check if you plan to call on a particular Microsoft partner .

I also expect that they will increase the use of artificial intelligence technology to enable partners to make more efficient decisions and better report underperforming partners, corrective instructions are provided on time to the partner and Microsoft, as appropriate.

This virtual integration between Microsoft and its partners should lead to greater customer satisfaction and a much better customer engagement, both with the partner and, where appropriate, with Microsoft.

Finally, on the basis of preliminary information, the automotive, non-profit and banking sectors are the sectors on which attention will be at the forefront. The first is a growing showcase for AI applied in vehicles and enhanced customer experience management through reseller networks, and the latter is a showcase for security and speed. Nonprofit organizations are a high priority for Microsoft founder and president, Bill Gates, so I was expecting a steady concentration there. Gates has always seemed to have the greatest potential impact of this technology on improving the world.

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Microsoft Inspire is a partner event, but as such, it indicates where the company is going with its technology applied to partners and what is likely to happen with customer satisfaction and commitment from its partners. It also shows the areas on which Microsoft is focusing and their strategic imperative to better instruct their partners so that they can both better succeed and receive the help they need in a timely manner to better ensure loyalty. of their customers.

Companies often forget that partners are an important leveraged resource, which can make the difference between success and failure. Dynamics 365 shows that Microsoft has not forgotten this and is fully aware that its partners are an essential part of the foundation for Microsoft's future success.

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