Microsoft Inspire key takeaways

Microsoft wrapped its annual Microsoft Inspire 2020 partner conference in July. This is one of the first events of the "big tech" conference season and a good precursor to what trends we can expect to see in 2021. For the first time ever, the global event was 100 percent virtual and available to all attendees at no cost. While Microsoft offered less "net-new" vision at this year’s conference, it strongly reinforced the company’s existing reputation as the dominant technology platform for enabling business results for technology intensive companies globally.

Microsoft spends millions on market research and R&D and based on past events we have found that there is a lot to learn at these events that can add value to technology strategies and plans. Here are four key takeaways from Microsoft Inspire 2020 that capture what Microsoft is up to, the direction the company is taking and often a good indicator of the market over the next 12 months.

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  1. Technology Consumption Continues to Grow -- Companies Accelerate the Shift to Cloud in a Post-Pandemic World

The global impact of COVID-19 proves that no business is 100 percent resilient; however, it does show that digitally enabled businesses are more buoyant. Due to travel restrictions, physical distancing guidelines and remote workforces, the tech intensity of businesses across the globe is increasing, which in turn is changing the operating architecture of citizen developers, how we leverage collective knowledge, global real-time collaboration and more. The current pandemic is accelerating technology growth as a percent of the global economy, which is predicted to increase from five to 10 percent. Additionally, 89 percent of CIOs plan to accelerate their public cloud investments, which is up from the 54 percent pre-COVID.

  1. Determining What to Rebuild, Reimagine and Leave Behind

As we move forward during these unprecedented times, organizations will need to develop an acute sense of what should be rebuilt, reimagined and left behind. Microsoft shared that it has already begun this process with its own platform. The company introduced new work and location management features, along with new customer engagement and voice capabilities in business applications. Additionally, Microsoft will continue its massive investment in its Microsoft 365 workforce productivity and Teams platform, as Microsoft Power Platforms democratizing adoption of data and AI is essential for every business.

  1. An All-in-One Platform

Due to physical distancing guidelines and restrictions, there has been a major uptick in the number of virtual meetings being held. However, with the shift to virtual, there is now more meeting fatigue than ever before, as being on a virtual meeting requires more attention and focus than a face-to-face, in-person interaction. As Microsoft continues its steady march to becoming the largest, most powerful digital platform in the world, it introduced a new experience in Teams called Together Mode, which will allow up to 49 to be grouped by a shared background, versus a standard grid view, enabling better remote collaboration across an enterprise or in higher education, while also reducing virtual meeting fatigue. Through its intelligent business applications, Teams, analytics, AI and Azure, Microsoft continues to empower, engage, optimize and transform businesses with an all-in-one platform solution.

  1. Additional Technology Announcements
  • Azure Stack HCI and Azure Migrate Enhancements 

Microsoft announced the next generation of Azure Stack HCI, a hyperconverged cluster solution that runs virtualized Windows and Linux workloads in a hybrid on-premise environment to provide businesses the simplest and quickest way to integrate their data center with the cloud. It enables the coexistence of a hybrid environment, while also accelerating the path to Azure. This helps customers manage their environments across Azure, multiple clouds and a hybrid infrastructure.

  • Power Platform and Dynamics 365 

Power Platforms’ ability to build low-code apps, no-code apps and virtual agents, as well as automate workflows and analyze data, has led to the creation of "return to workforce" capabilities leveraging the platform. It provides a comprehensive, end-to-end set of modules that help organizations plan, coordinate and manage the return to work with confidence, while also ensuring the health and safety of employees. 

  • Microsoft 365 and Teams

Microsoft is currently investing heavily in accelerating its modern workplace cloud platform – Microsoft 365 and Teams. One of the biggest announcements at this year’s Inspire event was Dataflex, a low-code data platform that enables anyone to build and deploy apps and intelligent chatbots. It promises to deliver native integration between Teams and Power Platform tools. Additionally, Microsoft is investing in significant enhancements to enable extensibility, so partners can build custom Team applications, purpose-built applications for front line workers and endpoint data security enhancements. Microsoft also aims to achieve zero emissions by 2030 across its global data center infrastructure, with over 200 sustainability projects in progress.

Due to current events, the future of business will be more tech intensive than ever before. Microsoft promises to continue empowering positive outcomes for its customers during these unprecedented times, at an accelerated pace.

Darren White is director of cloud advancement, and Akhilesh Nandwana is director of business application at Synoptek

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