Day 2 at Microsoft Partner Days: Taking the robot out of the human

Day two of Microsoft Partner Days was packed with insights and inspiring examples. The keynote focused on security, the modern workforce, partner opportunities, and our changing industry.

Expanding the partner opportunity in the UK

Joe Macri, Vice President UK Commercial Partner

One of the first insights Joe brought to the keynote was that native English speakers use the word ‘interesting’ in a very interesting way. And what he went on to talk about was exactly that. Three factors – economic, political and social – are creating some huge opportunities, and Joe discussed what these opportunities are; how Microsoft is responding to them; and how we can work with partners to maximise them.

First, we had a trip back in time, reflecting on the journey that Microsoft and the partner ecosystem have been through. Back in the ‘80s, it was realising the mission statement of ‘a PC on every desk, in every home’, through app development and fulfilment. The next platform shift came in the ‘90s, when the PC became integrated into the heart of the enterprise. Then the market went through an incredible explosion, with opportunities increased tenfold. In the last ten years, there’s been another shift in terms of the economy and tech platforms. We’re now living in a mobile-first, cloud-first world, where ‘as-a-Service’ opportunities are key.

But now we’re undergoing another wave of transformation. Digital is now less about what’s happening in the background, and more about how we can use it to help our customers’ customers. And it’s this that’s creating many opportunities for us and partners.

So, how’s Microsoft responding?

If we’re going to help our customers transform, we need to understand their industries. We need to know what they’re talking about, and how we can inspire and empower them. We need to focus on how we can help them:

  • empower their employees
  • engage with their customers
  • optimise their operations
  • transform their products

We need to look at how we can ‘take the robot out of the human’. If customers can free people up from mundane jobs and duties, they can put more value into customer interactions. And that’s the most vital part of selling.

To help partners realise their potential and build capability to help their customers, Microsoft is doing three key things:


Microsoft is giving partners a dedicated team to help you build your technological capability in the area and industry your customers sit in.

Go-to-Market with

It’s one thing to make an investment, but it’s another to look for and find opportunities. Your dedicated team will help you identify these opportunities in the industry you’re aiming for.


The Customer Account teams in Microsoft are aligned to various verticals, and are building insight and capability specific to that. They’ll be working with you to connect the dots and help you have the right conversations with customers.

Giving partners the tools to make customer digital journeys agile and flexible

Chris Rothwell, UK Dynamics Business Lead

Chris kicked off with digital transformation, explaining that it’s how we see our technology helping customers better serve their customers. One element of this is business applications. Without it, customers lack the platform that they run processes, automate and use data, and help customers. While it’s not the sole answer – it’s a key ingredient in the recipe.

We’re seeing a new cycle of how technology is being used, particularly by new entrants. And these new companies are changing what ‘great’ looks like. Old technology isn’t agile, it isn’t mobile, and it’s not helping customers – and customer experience is going to be the biggest differentiator by 2020 (Gartner), if it isn’t already. Take Amazon Prime for example. It’s completely changed expectations around online shopping and delivery. And from Prime to Netflix, these game-changers are supported by technology, people and processes that come together to disrupt industries by raising expectations.

The pressure is on

Our customers must completely change how they think about everything – if they don’t, they risk losing out to more innovative, disruptive businesses. Collectively, we need to help them respond to this environment, and start thinking about how technology can help them improve customer experience, innovate, and go after opportunities.

The good news is, is that this opportunity is huge. When changing processes and improving customer experience, businesses are happy to make investments. 46% of the UK market is now cloud-based, with a 19% year-on-year growth. So, it’s ready for us to step in and capture new market share.

How will we go after this opportunity?

Chris jokes that no one knows what a CRM is – but everyone knows what sales is. And that’s the most important aspect of our strategy: we’re breaking everything down and bringing it together. Dynamics 365 takes assets running in the cloud, and brings them together. There’s no complex parts like CRMs and ERPs. Instead, it’s the individual parts that businesses need: recruitment; sales; marketing; email. By creating these apps, it’s making it easier for customers to get onboard. Instead of looking at IT upgrades as huge, ten-year-long projects, it’s now agile. It’s easy to get started, then expand over time when needed.

We’re bringing everything together, so you can:

  • stay in the same programme, and have access to all the data you need, with Office 365
  • make sense of all your data and action it, using the machine learning and AI in Cortana and Power BI
  • stop guessing and estimating, and start understanding what’s needed and when, with the IoT
  • automate data integration with email and LinkedIn

None of our competitors can do this. Yes, they can challenge on certain parts – but none offer a one-stop-shop like we do.

Driving change in the workplace

Angela Evans, UK Office Business Lead

Angela was up next. She kicked off by discussing digital transformation and how it’s affecting the modern workplace. Business leaders see digital as a number one priority, and want to use technological advances to help transform the workplace. And this is happening in all businesses, of all sizes, across all industries.

Behind that transformation is data. The companies that can get insight and create action from data are the ones who will drive forward and succeed. It’s the development in analytics and cloud computing that’s making those transformations happen. But at the heart of digital transformation is employees. And from habits and routines to generations, everything about them is changing too.

How people work and who they work with is changing. The number of teams that people work in has doubled. And the ages of people in a workforce is rapidly changing: soon, there could be five generations in the same office. All of these people have different expectations and working styles, so it’s vital to find ways they can effectively collaborate.

Mobile applications are driving changes in how people work. The flexibility and freedom afforded to employees is empowering. But it also causes a huge challenge: security. Businesses have a duty to protect customer data and business IP, while also empowering their employees.

It was our partners who highlighted these challenges. Customers brought these issues to partners, and they raised them with us – and together, we’ve found a solution.

The solution that partners brought to us

Caroline Goles, Senior Director Office Marketing

Caroline then came up to talk about our latest solution: Microsoft 365. She describes it as the solution that partners brought to us. And that it made us think differently about how to bring together solutions for our customers.

There are two solutions under Microsoft 365:

  • Microsoft 365 Business, for small and mid-sized businesses
  • Microsoft 365 Enterprise, for large organisations

It’s a complete and intelligent solution that has four premises.

  1. Unlocking creativity: while digital and data is important in transformation, people are at the heart of it. People need the right access to the right information to work better. So, the new collaboration tools in Office 365, like voice, ink and touch, let people work the way they want.
  2. Built for teamwork: everyone’s now on a myriad of teams, but all these teams (and the people in them) are unique. Microsoft Teams introduces new capabilities around a chat-based workplace, that suits the multi-generational workforce. It’s got everything a team could need – from voice calls to documents.
  3. Integrated for simplicity: tools can undeniably cause complexity, so we’re unifying components to make the management of tools, apps, devices and users simpler.
  4. Intelligent security: we all wake up to hear about a new security threat or a compromised company in the news, and security is at the centre of all company challenges. Security is a built-in feature that constantly monitors, manages and protects users, data and devices.

These pillars will help our customers give their customers what they want and need. And there’s a lot there for partners too:

  • it simplifies the sales cycle, reducing it from three to one.
  • it gives the customers what they want: a solution that’s the right size for their business. Some SMBs said that solutions were too big for their business – they wanted something secure and intelligent, made for their needs.
  • it reduces management and costs, for both customers and partners

Learn more about Microsoft 365.

If you enjoyed the insights in this blog, sign up for our next Partner Days event, in February.

And if you’d like to learn more about the topics above, watch the keynote in full here.



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