Microsoft’s annual partner conference, Microsoft Inspire, is one of our favorite events of the year. It’s a chance for us to connect with current and potential ClickDimensions partners from around the world, while also hearing directly from Microsoft on product updates, corporate initiatives and what’s on the horizon.
Microsoft Inspire 2018 was held July 15-19, and now that our team has had some time to digest all that they saw, heard and learned at the event, they’re ready to share their thoughts with you. Here are top insights from some of ClickDimensions’ Microsoft Inspire 2018 attendees:
1. Increasing value by expanding Dynamics’ capabilities. “While there were no big announcements surrounding Dynamics 365 at Inspire, there were many opportunities to see how Microsoft has refined and matured their messaging and focus for the platform and its surrounding applications. A very cohesive story is coming together for the way that partners can leverage PowerApps and Microsoft’s own first-party apps like Sales and Field Service to drive value for their customers. There was also a fair amount of buzz around Microsoft’s ISV Embed program. The ISV Embed program allows third-parties to build highly-tailored software on the Dynamics platform and deliver it at a compelling price point to address the needs of specific vertical industries or even horizontal business needs with a broad appeal.” – Matt Wittemann, Senior Director, Pre-Sales Consulting and 13-time Microsoft MVP
2. Data drives everything. “Microsoft understands the value of data and that it is the catalyst in the development of decision making systems. At Inspire, there were many keynotes, sessions and conference booths dedicated to all things data. Microsoft’s suite of technologies from data acquisition (Azure Data Factory), the storage of that data (Azure Data Lake Storage Gen 2) and the presentation of that information through their Azure SQL data warehouse and Power BI are very mature and comprehensive. Microsoft has also placed a lot of focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning, and provides several tools to support this such as Databricks, Azure Analysis Services and a suite of artificial intelligence APIs. Microsoft is also partnering with other vendors to facilitate the use of third-party tools in the Microsoft technology stack. As an example, ETL tools such as Informatica and Talend may be used for data acquisition in lieu of their Data Factory product. On the presentation layer, they’re forming partnerships and developing connectors with BI vendors such as Tableau and Qlik. This suite of analytic and AI/ML technologies opens a whole new set of possibilities for ClickDimensions and our customers and partners.” – Mike Marriage, Vice President of Product Management
3. An emphasis on customer experience. “It was very apparent at Inspire that Microsoft is increasing its focus on customer success and change management. In this, they are creating partner success programs, and are providing guides and tools for increased enablement between their teams and the partner ecosystem. A lot of their focus will be on the front end and change management. At the same time, we had many conversations with partners about customer experience and how the centralization of data within ClickDimensions can provide a complete view of the customer journey. There is tremendous interest in customer experience insights and data on all fronts.” – Michael Taylor, Vice President of Global Customer Success and Operations
4. Systems integration is powerful. “Office 365 continues to be a big focus for Microsoft, with Satya Nadella focusing on how it empowers his workday during his keynote session. This makes sense, as Office 365 is the system that most Microsoft users are familiar with. What was particularly interesting is how Dynamics will continue to work with Office 365 long-term. There is clearly a data integration story here and a lot that companies who use both Dynamics 365 and Office 365 can do to power their organizations with data. This becomes even more powerful as you think about the LinkedIn integration.” – Leigh Chesley, Senior Director of Partner and Alliance Marketing
5. Business applications are big. “Satya Nadella and his team are laser focused on business applications. In his keynote, Nadella talked about how Microsoft saw 65 percent growth during the first three quarters of Microsoft’s fiscal year 2018. Dynamics 365 (Cloud CRM and ERP) is one of their fastest growing businesses. Even faster than Office 365. Microsoft is putting a lot of resources into assisting the partner channel with getting involved in Dynamics 365 as well as other business applications like Power BI.” – Joel Hinton, Senior Partner Account Manager
6. Growth is at the heart of it all. “In addition to all the excellent takeaways from Microsoft’s keynotes and session, my greatest insight from Inspire was that we love our partners and the feeling is definitely mutual. You can see this from our partners when they stop by our booth or join our sponsored sessions. Partners cherish their relationship with their ClickDimensions Partner Account Manager. Most importantly, they appreciate that we help them grow their businesses, and that we continue to grow our global footprint and capabilities to meet their needs and the needs of our mutual customers.” – Shai Frank, Vice President of Product