Microsoft Inspire Conference 2018: Inspiring Success
One of the highlights of my job is the partnership with my client at Microsoft. Other than being a leader in technology systems and innovation, Microsoft is also dedicated to maintaining a strong partner ecosystem. Each year, Microsoft puts on the Inspire conference and invites partners from all over the world to attend. This international conference is all about networking, collaborating, informing and building positive energy and team spirit among all partners.
What is a Microsoft partner?
You may ask, what does it mean to be a Microsoft partner? Partners are industry experts, service providers, vendors and/or overall Microsoft-product “gurus” who have been selected by Microsoft to sell, implement and/or service their products to enterprise customers. Microsoft builds stellar products and its partners are tasked with bringing those products to life for enterprise customers.
As a Microsoft Gold partner, Logic20/20 has been recommended by Microsoft as a premium service provider to support Microsoft products for enterprise customers and provide exceptional service and support. Logic20/20 supports a wide spectrum of Microsoft products and tools from Azure to Dynamics to Office 365 and to all tools and solutions involved in digital transformation. We identify opportunities for our clients, match the appropriate Microsoft solution, customize as needed, implement the solution, and then provide ongoing service, if requested. Essentially, Microsoft partners, like Logic20/20, are an extension of Microsoft.
Viva Las Vegas!
This year’s conference was in the city of possibilities, freedom, and fun - Las Vegas! What a perfect setting to celebrate the successes of FY18 and build excitement for the vision for FY19. The goal and the tagline of the event was Microsoft Inspire + Microsoft Ready. Basically, there were three days to celebrate, inform, educate, and equip international partners with the tools and knowledge to go forth and sell, service and implement an exceptional Microsoft experience for customers. A giant task, but Microsoft pulled it off spectacularly. This event was chock-full of inspiring speeches, informative learning sessions, and interactive fun. There are only so many hours in the day so I wasn’t able to attend every session, but, here are a few of my favorite highlights from the event:
•Inspiring through art
Day one started off with a bang. Microsoft Inspire is all about connection. The kick-off Corenote highlighted that in artform and included an uplifting and ethereal performance by the talented filmmaker, songwriter and violinist, Kishi Bashi. Through a mixture of stunning imagery and music, he asked “Can we dare to look a little different? Can we sing a colorful song?” Kishi challenged people to come together, collaborate, recognize and celebrate differences. This falls in line with the goals and aspirations of Microsoft and it’s culture. If you are ever feeling “meh” and need to be motivated towards positivity, I would highly recommend watching Kishi’s performance at the beginning of the day one Corenote.
The big takeaway from this event is that Microsoft is focused on digital transformation for FY19, and this was emphasized and scattered throughout much of the speeches. I found this to be exciting, because it directly aligns with the digital transformation work we are doing at Logic20/20 every day to help our clients optimize and accelerate their production.
My favorite presentation on this topic was given by representatives from Carlsberg Group along with Judson Althoff, Microsoft EVP, Worldwide Commercial Business. The Carlsberg Group produces the famed Carlsberg beer and they demonstrated how they have undergone a major digital transformation through use of various Microsoft solutions. Microsoft partners were the key to helping Carlsberg customize and implement these solutions. Using Microsoft Teams, they drove more efficient cross-team collaboration to develop an innovative special brew for Liverpool soccer that is “infused with the spirit of the team”. They also used AI bots to improve search functionality for employees and Power BI to automate and optimize business analytical insights. Combining sensors and an IoT-driven service within 365, Carlsberg is assisting bar owners and distributors with tracking quality and sales of beer. Lastly, they are using the predictive features of Azure ML Studio to assist scientists in refining beer formulations and improving product. They proclaimed that anything could be optimized with AI, even beer!
This presentation demonstrated how Microsoft solutions drive forward digital transformation in real-life in the beer industry, while other speeches throughout the week touched on digital improvements in other industries, such as healthcare, agriculture and nonprofit.
•A shout out to the ladies!
The Women in Technology community at Microsoft hosted a luncheon as a way to network, connect and support one another. This event did not disappoint. Powerful talks by Microsoft Executives Gavriella Schuster, Julia White and Kathleen Hogan were inspiring, and a surprise speech by Satya about diversity energized the room. But what really stood out to me were two speakers. First, Kate Wood, Culture Director at Chess Digital presented a Microsoft Partner showcase. She shared how she influenced a company-wide Agent of Change attitude to encourage Chess Digital to re-engineer its multi-million-dollar business to embrace digital transformation. Her efforts resulted in the 2018 Best Company to Work in the UK award from the Sunday Times. Kate was confident and authentic and an all-around inspirational example of how any woman can be successful with a little bit of determination and passion.
The second inspiring speaker was Tory Simpson, the Head of Digital Marketing at ResourceiT Consulting. Her way of expressing her drive, passion and insights captivated the entire room, including the female leaders of today and the aspiring leaders of the future. She encourages all young women to step-up and be Agents of Change by not taking ‘no’ for an answer. Her story about the journey as a young millennial in the workforce was interesting and sparked a lot of conversation later in the day as participants remarked on how each speaker affected them.
Overall, I would say that Microsoft Inspire 2018 equipped us with all the information, skills and positive energy to move forward and be successful in FY19. And, of course it would not be a complete Vegas trip without a dose of fun to top off this already-great experience – evening parties, Bruno Mars, and fantastic meals to name a few. As partners, we have been inspired and are now “Microsoft Ready”. Personally, I’m already thinking about how I can approach digital transformation in new and creative ways. It is exciting to be a part of the technological progress that will occur in the upcoming year!
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