Microsoft Inspire partner conference 2017- a Review of Goals
The Inspire is Microsoft’s annual partner event, aiming to “Network, learn and collaborate with thousands of partners, personnel and industry experts”
Last week, several representatives of Intershop attended the conference in Washington D.C., as one of the 600 German partners, together with 17,000 attendees from 600 countries. Microsoft and its partners discussed trends and outcomes of digital transformation in various business segments during the keynotes, workshops, panel discussions, and region-specific gatherings. Ronni Swialkowski, Director of Strategic Alliances, was part of the Intershop team, together with Jochen Wiechen, Intershop’s CEO and representatives of our global partner management and sales team.
Microsoft is in the process of transforming its entire organization. It has been impressive to see how much Microsoft has already focused on their partners. Now it is even more: “putting the partner first” by associating “One Commercial Partner” to them. They expect growth, speed, and quality – all based on their cloud business. In doing so, the Microsoft Azure cloud is not only supporting Microsoft originated software, but any software from any Independent Software Vendor (ISVs) on various operating systems, including Linux-based software.
Microsoft being a strategic partner for Intershop, what could Intershop expect from the Microsoft Inspire?
#1- Meet (with) other partners
Particularly trans-regional partners were of interest for Ronni Swialkowski: “We already established a good partner network in Germany and the Benelux. @MSPartnerDE is taking great care of knowing the sweet spots for us and bringing together demands and offers. We hoped to expand our visibility to partners in our other core regions: US, APAC, UK, France and Nordics.”
Microsoft and its partner ecosystem is traditionally clustered into regions. Globally acting companies such as Intershop, have not yet been supported perfectly in their business processes. Microsoft knew this increasing challenge and is going to address it with the “One Commercial Partner” role as well by extending their services in cross-regional networking. Jochen Wiechen states: “This is the true benefit of such a huge conference – synergies are to be defined and all partners can grow together.”
Furthermore, our team could make first contacts to Microsoft and partners in emerging and growing markets for Intershop, such as Bulgaria, Australia & New Zealand, Japan and China.
#2- Meet Microsoft staff
Intershop is a so-called ISV (Independent Software Vendor) to Microsoft. This characterizes the broad strategy of supporting not only Microsoft-based products and services, but everyone who wants to make business in the Azure cloud. Whether it is using the Azure cloud as pure hosting environment or using additional services such as AI, IOT, or Dynamics 365. Virtually every software vendor or customer can find useful services in today’s cloud that are pieces to them to complete their digital transformation ecosystem. New is that the use of AI transforms the cloud to an “intelligent cloud”.
The “One Commercial Partner” will now bring together the needs of Microsoft vendors with every specialized partner who has the exact product or process in place to fulfill a customer demand. Even partner-2-partner networks can be established and are strongly supported by Microsoft.
Ronni added: “Microsoft is going to focus on 6 main verticals – Retail, Manufacturing, Agriculture, Education, Healthcare, Financial Services, and Government. For each vertical they are going to develop solution maps, which Microsoft and its partners will be using to define suitable solutions to specific customers’ needs in their digital transformation challenges.”
#3- Form new alliances
“Well, this was an ambitious goal”, Ronni states. “Being an individual in such an enormous number of attendees, considering the high number of deep talks and presentations, time was the most precious factor for all of us. Thorough strategic orientation was not really imaginable.” – With over 800 talks in parallel, the knowledge transfer was a core goal of the Microsoft Inspire. Most of the video streams and presentations are available for download now and even reviewing the missed sessions in retrospect is still a very time consuming task. “We did not form or announce new strategic partnerships during the Inspire but we had some interesting talks and engagements during the week which eventually could end up in new alliances.”
#4- Being a partner of Microsoft
Intershop is the e-commerce pioneer, with 25 years of experience in an ever changing market. “This was a statement we all agreed upon”, Jochen reflected. “Becoming a Microsoft partner was the right decision. We have learned from a lot of tracks in our company’s past. Intershop and Microsoft will benefit greatly from this partnership!”
Ronni adds: “Their strategy ‘partners first’ is based on three pillars: Build-with, Go-to -Market-with and Sell-with. So all of Intershop’s departments will be enabled to perfectly cooperate with Microsoft. In turn, we can provide a commerce platform which is made to blend in with their portfolio of services and fill a gap where all other big players have already found their provider.”