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Microsoft Inspire 2018 – OCSL’s Key Takeaways and Highlights

26 Jul 2018


This year nearly 50,000 people attended the week-long Microsoft Inspire event in Las Vegas. The thing I love most about Inspire is the platform it creates for partners to really engage with Microsoft and each other. It’s a terrific opportunity to understand the strategy and vision for their new Financial Year. Here’s my key takeaways.

Mark SkeltonCompute intelligence delivering value, right where customers need it

This is my 7th year of attending this conference and it is interesting to reflect on the shift in culture at Microsoft. Before CEO Satya Nadella took the reins, it was a sales organisation that delivered technology. Today, Microsoft is a technology company focused on driving customer value.

In turn, this customer-first focus creates a real platform for partners to make remarkable things happen for our customers.

What’s clear, is there is a terrific opportunity for us to all achieve great things using technology. And that opportunity is set to rise. Today, tech spend equates to 5% of world GDP. By 2030 that is expected to double to 10%.

The Microsoft vision is clear. They are striving to create a ubiquitous computing platform that allows compute and intelligence to deliver value right where customers need it. Here’s how Satya Nadella summed it up:

“Essentially wherever there is data, compute will migrate to data. We are taking Azure to Azure Stack, to Azure IoT Edge, to Azure Sphere. This is that one ubiquitous distributed computing fabric. One programming model that is event-driven, serverless, so you can write an application that truly works across all of this.”

Tech spending as a percentage of World GDP

The Battle for The Public Cloud

Their end-to-end approach, ie the ubiquitous distributed computing fabric Satya referred to, I believe, will be a key differentiator in the battle for the Public Cloud market.

The fight with AWS and Google is definitely on. Over the next 12 months the biggest players are gearing up to compete for that all-important market share and consumption.

Microsoft recently announced their big win with US giant Walmart in the retail space. Walmart aims to use Microsoft’s Public Cloud to innovate faster and better manage costs. It also has a whole series of cloud innovation projects in the pipeline.

You could argue, the strategic partnership between Microsoft and Walmart is a direct result of Amazon’s ever-growing retail presence.

Microsoft Target Industries 2019

image source:Microsoft Inspire

Guiding Principles for AI

AI was another key focus at Microsoft Inspire 2018. Microsoft want to create a base of guiding principles for AI. They want to make sure it’s used effectively, rather than detrimentally.

Here, Microsoft is almost becoming a political lobbyist. They talked about how AI and Security are driving the need for a new Geneva Convention for technology.

The end goal is to try and make sure every user is protected. And that technology is used for the greater good and we, as end consumers, are protected from malicious use.

You certainly get the impression that Microsoft feel the weight of responsibility in this area.

AI and Microsoft Technology

Nearly every technology company now has AI as part of its strategic vision. And Microsoft is no different. But Microsoft’s big competitive advantage is the platform they can weave it into.

Microsoft want to use AI across tools, apps and platforms to make everyone more productive and more mobile. The goal is for their technology to help free up an hour of everyone’s day. (Imagine that.)

When I think about the sheer breadth of Microsoft’s technologies, it prompts me to think about how I interact with technology. The way I can now interact reflects this customer-first focus.

I can now surface my Microsoft apps on almost any device I want. Daily, I use Outlook and Office from my iPhone and then go to my Windows PC. Wherever I am, my documents and conversations are always right there.

Cross-platform-everything makes the world simpler. (As long as there is technology to protect my security and data.)

Compared to even 10 years ago, the way we can communicate remotely and the way we work has been revolutionised. And, arguably, this is largely down to the Microsoft approach.

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Mark Skelton

About the author

Mark Skelton

Head of Consultancy

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