Microsoft Inspire (formerly Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference) is held annually somewhere in North America. This event has up to 20,000 attendees from around the globe and allows partners to come together and understand Microsoft's roadmap for the upcoming year, network, build connections, share best practices, experience the latest product innovations, and learn new skills and techniques.

 

The Keynote speakers provide a great insight into Microsoft thinking and future plans. Microsoft's current serving president Brad Smith is always excellent and the current CEO Satya Nadella is always thoughtful and insightful with the ability to convey Microsoft's future developments with great conviction.

 

There are featured speakers, business-track specific offerings, and hundreds of sessions. However, this year Inspire was held online, an immersive digital experience with Microsoft partners joining online from around the globe.

 

 

But before we dive into the good stuff, here are some of our Inspire highlights over the last few years:

 

 

So, what did we think of this year's first ever digital inspire?

 

Those who have been to a Microsoft Inspire conference before know that what makes it special is having key people at Microsoft; Distributors, Vendors and the partner community in one place at the same time. The atmosphere is one of excitement, anticipation and the ability to meet connections, build new business relationships and get business done is second to none. Learning and socialising together in four intense days can build business partnerships and friendships for many years to come. Unfortunately no one could replicate that digitally - not even Microsoft (well no yet anyway). 

 

So it was different... but we all agree that Microsoft did an amazing job and the Microsoft events team pulled it out of the hat considering the circumstances. We were still inspired, got excited about the year ahead, chatted to our connections and met new people.

 

       

         Here are our highlights from Microsoft Inspire 2020:

 

 

1. Satya Nadella reiterates that Microsoft is a partner led company: 

 

 

Microsoft doubled down on the fact they are a partner led company during Satya Nadella’s Q&A with Gavriella Schuster - Microsoft understands that the best way to empower every organisation to achieve more is to understand their needs, help them overcome pain points and act as an enabler. No one is better placed to do this than the partner community.


Microsoft's Partnership priorities for FY21: 

 

Remote work 

Business Continuity 

Security 

Cloud Migration 

 

Microsoft used a more insistent tone to advise that partners should adopt a Managed Service approach to delivering Microsoft solutions. 

 

2. Teams, Security and WVD will be areas to significant growth

 

Teams is surging ahead of the competition with rapidly developed new and enhanced features and now 75 million daily active users.

 

Security as part of M365 is now a leader in 5 Gartner Magic Quadrants and the continued innovation and feature updates mean that Microsoft will compliment or even displace many of the current leading security vendors.

 

3. Microsoft's Sustainability Push 

 

A new coalition - Transform to Net Zero, will help accelerate business action toward a net zero carbon economy.

A new Microsoft Sustainability Calculator will provide cloud customers with full transparency into their carbon emissions from their cloud usage.

A new supplier ‘code of conduct’ will include steps to reduce carbon emissions in Microsoft’s own supply chain.

Microsoft Datacentres will be diesel-free by 2030.

The first investment is being made by Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund.

 

4. Power Platform return to the workplace solution

 

Microsoft has released a pre-built Power Platform solution that will help customers prioritize health, safety and security and streamline the process of returning employees to the workplace. The solution comprises:

 

Location Readiness

Employee Health and Safety Management

Workplace Care Management

Location Management

 

More information on the Power Platform solution click here: 

 

 

        Here are our top 10 product announcements:

 

 

 

 

 

Microsoft Teams

 

Together Mode is not just a gimmick, there is real science behind how our brains find it easier using this view. Together Mode is a new experience in Teams that uses AI to digitally place participants in a shared background. This makes it feel like you’re sitting in the same room, reducing background distractions and making it easier to pick up the nonverbal cues that we miss.

 

Microsoft Teams Rooms. Teams Room/Teams Room Premium provides a cloud-based IT service that includes 24/7 proactive management and monitoring delivered by Microsoft experts.

 

Power BI personal app for Microsoft Teams gives people a hub for all their data visualisations and a place to find more data from across their organisations.

 

Microsoft Dataflex for Teams, is a relational database now built into Teams at no additional cost. It enables users to build applications and workflows directly within Teams more easily than ever, without having to worry about back-end tech logistics.

 

Universal Print

 

Is a Microsoft Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that enables an intuitive and secure print experience for users and helps IT reduce time and effort. Print manufacturers are working on native support for Universal Print, and independent software vendors are developing print and output management solutions with Universal Print integration.

 

Microsoft Lists

 

A Microsoft 365 app that helps track information and organise work, will begin rolling out to Microsoft 365 in late July 2020 (Lists home) and will be available in Microsoft Teams (Lists app in Teams) in August 2020. A ‘Lists’ mobile app for iOS is expected later this year.

 

Lists allows users to track; issues, assets, routines, contacts, inventory and more using customisable views, rules and comments to keep everyone in sync. Ready-made templates make it easy to start, and lists can be further extended with Power Platform integrations. Lists are a core part of Microsoft 365 with enterprise-ready security and compliance.

 

Yammer newly designed

 

With a reimagined user experience for both web and mobile built with the Fluent Design System – this new update is loaded with new features and integrations including featured conversations and support for external guests in communities (powered by Azure B2B).

 

Microsoft Endpoint Data Loss Prevention (DLP) 

 

Building on Microsoft Information Protection, this new solution provides native data-centric protection for sensitive information. 

 

 

 

 

 

Azure Migrate enhancements

 

This enables us to conduct better DataCentre assessment and includes the ability to import and create assessments using uploaded Configuration Management Database data and support for Azure VMware Solutions assessments. Further enhancements include shared disks for Azure Disk Storage, private links for exporting and importing data securely over a private network and support for third-party virtual appliances within virtual wide-area network hubs, including Barracuda.

 

Azure Stack HCI

 

Is a new hyper-converged infrastructure operating system delivered as an Azure service -  providing the latest and up-to-date security, performance and feature updates. It is a native and fully integrated Azure service that gives customers the easiest and fastest way to integrate their DataCentre with the cloud.

 

Azure Sentinel Connectors 

 

New connectors announced this week simplify getting security insights across many leading solutions and partners including networks, firewalls, endpoint protection and vulnerability management.

 

Azure Lighthouse 

 

Enhancements will allow partners to reduce risk from standing elevated access and stronger authentication methods. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dynamics 365

 

Dynamics 365 Customer Voice allows you to simplify integration with Dynamics 365 and third-party business applications. Allowing you to capture and incorporate real-time feedback with ready-to-use templates that include prebuilt questions, workflows and reports.

 

Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection - adds two new capabilities: Account Protection and Loss Prevention.

 

Dynamics 365 Connected Store - the AI tool that uses intelligent edge devices (video data and IoT sensor data) to deliver triggered alerts and actionable recommendations that can make your retail spaces more efficient. This tool is now available in public preview.

 

In summary, whilst the event was feature-rich and packed with exciting updates and content from start to finish - it wasn't quite the same, but the first ever Microsoft Digital Inspire was certainly a success.  

 

See you next year (in Las Vegas we hope 😎) 

 

For a more in-depth review of what happened at Microsoft Inspire 2020 read the Book of news click here;

 

Here is the highlight video it’s only a couple of minutes long but is worth the watch

 

You can also watch many of the session here

 

 

Blog authored by Urfaan Azhar and Lee Thatcher from the PTG Cloud Practice.