Microsoft Inspire – Lean on each other more than ever

Dave Howden

After eight days in Las Vegas, one could think that the fuel tank would be pretty low...

I can report that it is in fact 100% empty. However, the catalyst for needing to refuel was not the usual associations of Vegas, but in fact the sheer amount of collaboration, work, learning and relationship building that occurred between the 120 strong contingents that represented New Zealand at this year’s Inspire. An event that saw 30,000 partners and ‘Microsoft-ers’ come together to be Inspired.

And its that 120 strong melting pot of New Zealand partners that encapsulate my biggest take away from Inspire this year. Sure, the demos of Hololens, Microsoft Teams, and Azure Stack were terrific, but the single biggest mind grenade was that to truly drive the value of the vast array of technology in the Microsoft ecosystem, we are going to need to build strong, trusted and flexible partnerships to the ultimate end of making things easier for our joint customers.

To quote Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO,
“If I look at what is Microsoft’s core business, it is about being able to meet the unmet and unarticulated needs of customers”.

The unmet, and unarticulated needs! And if I think back to many of the customer engagements I’ve had over the past 2 years, its no surprise that many customers struggle to know where to start in leveraging Cloud, let alone knowing how to articulate how AI will change their industry, and how they want to shape it before being shaped by it! So our job is changing!

When Cloud was just Infrastructure, the conversations were easy, tangible, predictable. But now it’s our time to step up as a collective. How do we, the Microsoft partners, support customers in knowing what they don’t know? We must create solutions that don’t just enhance their business, but materially shift the dial and drive a culture of change, trust, partnership and motion of continuous improvement.

But let us make this NZ-centric for a second. As importantly, our collective mission across the partners that support the Microsoft Cloud must be to work harder than ever to democratise the technology to help the backbone of NZ business. That backbone is the 484,000 small business that employs most of the workforce. How do we create solutions that support NZ? Unlike the global mega buzzwords of AI, ML, Blockchain etc, we must address what that means for New Zealand business.

After all, we are country built on small business, and the solutions we drive into the market should reflect that. Not rocket science, though at the global mega-conference like Microsoft Inspire, it’s very easy to buy into that every business has the resources to build Hololens platforms, or develop in-depth cognitive services into every part of their supply chain. We know the reality?.. but after all, we have the skills, and I take great pride in this, between us all we can take the mega-trend buzz words, seize the opportunity for NZ and be the thought leaders that support the genuine democratisation of these remarkable technologies.

After all, technology is purely a force amplifier. So how can we all work together, with our collective skills and accelerate making our customer lives less risky, more productive and dramatically competitive on the world stage? There is no silver bullet, but I’m convinced that partnering will be at the core of this movement. This has been reinforced by the number of great partners that I have met this week that are changing the game with Azure, M365, AI, Chatbots, Analytics, Business Intelligence and Azure Stack. Partners that live and breathe the Microsoft solutions areas and own their patch in the NZ market.

So have I left Inspired??? entirely! Now time to head back to NZ, refuel and continue all the significant relationships that have been built this week.

I’ll sign off with another quote that I loved this week from Satya.

“Don’t come to work at Microsoft if you want to be cool. But do work here if you want to enable the world to do cool things.”


Dave Howden

Dave leads the charge at Umbrellar and is accountable for the organisations strategy in 'enabling NZ businesses to be brilliant'. Dave is British by birth, but Kiwi by nature, and has been disrupting the NZ tech industry since 2016.


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Microsoft Inspire 2018 | Collaboration, Work & Learning | Umbrellar Connect

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