The WPC 2016 in Toronto was the first WPC to be sold out. More than 16,000 attendees from 135 countries.
In his keynote, Satya Nadella demonstrated how Microsoft is dedicated to continue to support the growth of its customers and partners through new innovations and partnerships, driven by the Microsoft ambitions to reinvent productivity and business processes, build the intelligent cloud platform, and create more personal computing. see https://partner.microsoft.com/en-US/wpc/wpc-2016-vision-keynotes
Nadella stated that the entire Gross Domestic Product is being shaped by digital technology. You can learn more about the transformative power of technology in his new LinkedIn post, Reinventing Business Processes.
On Day 1 Satya Nadella described the three core ambitions that Microsoft will pivot the business around in FY17. It was the turn of three VPs to flesh out the story for each of these:
• Build the intelligent cloud platform – Scott Guthrie (@scottgu), Executive VP Cloud + Enterprise Group
• Reinvent productivity & business processes – Kirk Koenigsbauer (@kjkoenigsbauer), Corporate VP, Office Marketing
• Create more personal computing – Yusuf Mehdi (@yusuf_i_mehdi), Corporate VP, Windows & Devices
This year in particular, the message of digital transformation has been very strong, and has been anchored around what Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise Group, called “a generational shift” of organisations seeking to move their business to the cloud. Scott as usual pleased the crowd with lots of great info on the scale and industry leading capability of Azure. He claimed that the 34 Azure regions are more than AWS and Google combined, talked up the increasingly “open” nature of services available on Azure and highlighted Azure’s leadership position in multiple Gartner Magic Quadrants (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/campaigns/magic-quadrant/).
Scott referenced a great set of resources covering key Solution Areas that are enabled with Azure (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/solutions/). Scott closed out his presentation with a review of management tools. EMS now called Enterprise Mobility + Security (https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/server-cloud/enterprise-mobility/Overview.aspx) kicked things off (apparently 40% of installed Office365 base have access to EMS). He invited Julie White to show a couple of new tools within EMS.
Azure Information Protection (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud-platform/azure-information-protection) was also pretty impressive in the way that rights management and control of Microsoft Office documents was simplified and automated so that users might actually use it (all be it in the controlled world of demos).
Cloud App Security (https://www.microsoft.com/en/server-cloud/products/cloud-app-security/) can identify the SaaS apps that are running within your business and allow you to drill down into detailed information on each of these (apparently they have information on 13,000 SaaS applications).
Next up was Operation Management + Security/OMS (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud-platform/operations-management-suite) allowing management across multiple environments (including non Microsoft such as vmware).
The big news here was that EMS and OMS are available to partners through the CSP licensing program.
A starring role in this section went to Facebook. Tim Campos (@tcampos) – the Facebook CIO explained that they had decided to go with Office 365 and then gave a glowing endorsement of Microsoft.
‘We need partnerships with industry leaders and we are glad that Microsoft has got its mojo back.’ He explained that Facebook employees spend four hours per day in collaboration systems with an unprecedented access to information. He discussed how tools such as Delve, Clutter and Microsoft Graph would help employees “sift through the noise”. . This was a huge endorsement of Office365.
There were some good demos across the Office 365 capability including Delve Personal Analytics (https://products.office.com/en-us/business/explore-office-delve) which was both impressive but a little Orwellian
The demo of all the capabilities of the Office suite from SharePoint to Skype was very slick and you can watch it at the 19:10 min mark in this video https://player.vimeo.com/video/174410386
In the last part of the day1 keynote there was one BIG item-
Windows10 is now available through the CSP program as a subscription service and called Windows10 Enterprise E3 at USD$7/seat/month. Providers will be able to wrap up a full end to end solution suite and buy it under a single subscription program (CSP) – Azure + Office365 + Dynamics365 + Windows10 E3.
Azure Stack (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/azure-stack/) got another call out, although there was not too much detail. A short discussion about the common APIs and services and how this would help deliver the vision of the Hybrid Cloud. However, for the service provider community this is a “must find out more” area.
Azure stack becomes an extension of Microsoft Azure and together they will become a huge connected network of compatible Azure services. @maryjofoley provided more detail in her article (http://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-readies-first-technical-preview-of-azure-stack-hybrid-cloud-bundle/).
The sad news is that it has only just gone into beta and without it the new Dynamics Ax RTW will not be available till next year (as predicted by us long back in a blog post).
And for the official Microsoft site go to https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/azure-stack/.
Microsoft and General Electric on Monday announced a deal to make GE’s industrial software platform available on Microsoft’s cloud, a move that puts Microsoft one step closer to its cloud computing rival Amazon. The deal also bolsters GE’s software ambitions. One memorable phrase was “Digital Twins” where IoT sensors feed data about a physical object to a virtual/ digital companion to allow near real-time review of status etc. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Twins).
Last week’s announcement of Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource to showcase just how seriously Microsoft takes this message. Available this fall, Microsoft Dynamics 365 will unify the current Microsoft CRM and ERP cloud solutions into one cloud service with new purpose-built apps to help manage specific business functions. Microsoft AppSource will be Microsoft’s new destination for business users to find and try out line-of-business SaaS apps from Microsoft and Microsoft partners.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 will bring together the best of CRM and ERP cloud offerings into one cloud service with specific, purpose built, apps for each of your key business processes – like Finance, Sales, Customer Service, etc.
To ensure interoperability and extensibility they also use a common data model and consistent application platform. The common data model is a cloud-resident, business database, with hundreds of standard business entities spanning both business process (Dynamics 365) and productivity (Office 365).
The combination of these things gives customers a comprehensive solution for business process innovation that lets them:
• Start with what they need by offering apps that fit roles, industries, businesses – and grow at their pace to run their entire business in the cloud.
• Enable greater productivity by connecting structured workflow of business applications (Dynamics 365) and processes with the unstructured work of collaboration and productivity (Office 365) so tat employees are empowered with productivity tools surfaced in the context of their business processes, and vice versa.
• Gain built-in, actionable, intelligence with business applications that infuse big data, advanced analytics and IoT into processes which proactively guide employees and customers to optimal outcomes. With Dynamics 365, data and insights are transformed into intelligent
• ompose, modify and extend processes in real-time. Power BI, PowerApps and the new Microsoft Flow can empower business users to change and adapt their processes without requiring IT support, and with a consistent, flexible, extensible platform.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a cloud service so it will not be available, as is, on premises or in private clouds.
Steve Clayton (@stevecla) Demo -Steve has the great title of Chief Storyteller at Microsoft and he gave an impressive demo that pulled almost all of Microsoft cloud assets together:
•Azure Cortana Intelligence Suite
There were also some other tools that were included in the demo that looked interesting a certainly worth further investigation. For example, Microsoft Flow (https://flow.microsoft.com/en-us/) a tool to help create automated workflows across Microsoft application portfolio.
Satya talked up the Conversations as a Platform “What if we could teach all computers and computing around us human language?”.
The wow factor as last year came form Hololens. The opportunity with “mixed reality” as an alternative to ‘Augmented Reality’ gave us some new jargon to use.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed_reality).
The focus was on a proof of concept Microsoft and Japan Airline (JAL) have worked on to provide virtual training for aircraft engines and co-pilots. (https://blogs.microsoft.com/transform/2016/07/11/japan-airlines-creates-yet-another-first-class-experience-this-time-using-microsoft-hololens/).
The resignation of Microsoft COO Kevin Turner essentially removes a layer of management from the company’s operating structure. Gavriella Schuster was named full time worldwide channel chief. To her credit she took the trouble to visit the partner regional meetings and take questions head on.
Former Oracle channel chief, Judson Althoff will now have increased influence as the commercial lead. Reporting to him will be EPG (Enterprise Partner Group), SMS&P (Small, Midmarket Solutions & Partners), Public Sector and Developer Experience and Services.
Althoff took over Turner’s customary Wednesday morning vision keynote to describe the new operating model and how it will work. It was not a good sign that there was a steady stream of delegates walking out throughout his presentation. He had perhaps the most important messages for partners.
Of all information the provided at WPC apart the key question is where are Microsoft putting their focus? This is what all Microsoft internal metrics will be based on and therefore where Microsoft employees themselves will be focused. he dealt with that directly.
‘This does not mean that partners have to immediately change everything they do, but it absolutely means that the story they tell about their business to Microsoft has to align with this focus.’ Judson could not have made this clearer.
The all up drivers that shape the business:.
• Mission: Empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more
• Worldview: Mobile first, cloud first
• Ambitions: •Reinvent productivity and business process
• Build the intelligent cloud platform
• Create more personal computing
• Culture: Make a difference
…..and this is what that means for Microsoft’s sales teams:
1.Drive Digital Transformation with customers
2.Accelerate cloud adoption
3.Propel Windows 10 Enterprise deployment
4.Generate SQL Server 2016 growth
5.Drive ISV and SI momentum
6.Make experiences come to life through hardware solutions
The huge societal shift that is driving all of this is Digital Transformation and Experiences. According to PWC research 86% of CEOs think digital is their #1 priority and are using it to transform their businesses:
This is what all Microsoft internal metrics will be based on and therefore where Microsoft employees themselves will be focused.
An explicitly re-enforced theme was that SECURITY is at the heart of all of the differentiation messages. His claim is that EMS (https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/server-cloud/enterprise-mobility/Overview.aspx) is the fastest growing product that MS has ever had. This is a must add asset for cloud deployments.
SQL Server 2016 will be the richest in terms of built in capability, the most secure and also the best value that will democratise access the analytics.
There was lots more messaging -watch the whole video (https://player.vimeo.com/video/174543385)
Of all the partner programs at Microsoft relevant to Dynamics ERP and CRM VARs, none is more wide ranging and relevant this year than the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program . Coming up on two years of execution, CSP has grown from Azure, Office 365, and Enterprise Mobility Suite to include CRM Online and the new AX on Azure. Project Madeira is on the horizon but expect at least another 18 months before it gets out to our region.
An online certification programme, the Microsoft Professional Degree is a Microsoft-led initiative built on the Open edX on Azure platform. It will look to provide professionals with ‘real-world knowledge and hands-on experience to grow their skills in critical fields’. The first curriculum will focus on the Data Science Degree programme, and will target the development of skills and experience in the data science industry, which is evolving rapidly. “The ability to offer Learning as a Service, to meet a learner where they are in their own journey and provide the targeted experiences they need to reach their specific goals, is critical to closing the skills gap,” said Alison Cunard, general manager of Microsoft Learning Experiences. A study by McKinsey & Company estimates that by 2018 the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills, as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions.”
WPC was also a good chance to network with other partners, see new solutions, get first hand demos, meet up with AxPact and there was a mega concert with Swedish duo Icona Pop, and Gwen Stefani at the Air Canada centre but I am the wrong age to comment – suffice to say that the rest of the audience were obviously having a great time.