Data for a cleaner earth and stronger communities – Microsoft NZ’s 2020 Partner of the Year announced

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Cat Mules

‘‘Strength in transformation" – using the cloud to drive powerful positive change, from Enlighten Designs, Microsoft Partner of the Year.

The word is out – Enlighten Designs is this year’s Microsoft New Zealand Partner of the Year Award winner!

Each year, Microsoft partners the world over reflect on their progress and perfect their entries for the Microsoft Awards. This year, the awards were about the most innovative technology solutions – but also about meeting the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Enlighten Design’s and Microsoft’s press releases this morning, Gavriella Shuster, Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner Corporate Vice President, says the company have “gone above and beyond, delivering timely solutions that solve the complex challenges that organisations and communities around the world face”.

As part of Umbrellar Connect’s eco-system of leading Microsoft cloud-empowerment partners, we are proud to celebrate this win with Enlighten. So, what are these solutions, and how are they making a difference? Here’s an overview of the cloud-transformation areas that led to the award this year.

‘Lead with community’

A creative technical agency, Enlighten looks to the latest and most effective cloud technologies. But technology is one of three value areas – they equally prioritise community and the power of lasting, impactful solutions.

Founder and CEO of Enlighten Designs, Damon Kelly, shares that, “Our mission consists of three interconnected parts: our love of technology, passion for people and belief in sustainable prosperity.”

Sustainable Coastlines & Litter Intelligence

Enlighten in partnership with Sustainable Coastlines created New Zealand’s first national litter database, Litter Intelligence. It empowers “citizen scientists”, who are mobilised communities collecting and tracking litter data. In doing so it leads to understanding, involvement and behaviour change.

Litter Intelligence is data science-based and government-approved, so it can inform and measure the impacts of policy and public education campaigns, both locally and internationally.

It is part of a global effort for environmental sustainability outcomes. The solution works as part of the United Nations Environment Program, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to protect the planet and ensure a healthier future for all.


Back in March last year, Microsoft President Brad Smith awarded the Sustainable Coastlines team with the AI for Earth grant during a surprise beach clean-up. Image Credit: Microsoft. 

Kelly shares that the pride and inspiration felt by the Enlighten team with the news of the award. “Being the 2020 Microsoft NZ Partner of the Year Award winner is a significant achievement and recognises how our solutions are making positive change in our world,” he says.

“To love what we do, and to be acknowledged for our team’s hard work and dedication with this prestigious award, is one we will celebrate proudly. To win in such great company is a humbling acknowledgement, and to be part of the collective Microsoft partner ecosystem allows us all to do good and truly change the world for the better.

Instant dashboards to increase responsiveness

Enlighten is making ground-breaking transformations to the nerve centre of the newsroom – the assignment desk. Clearly displaying data and scenarios is key to being able to talk about what is happening, and what could happen.

Their Power BI Port Visualization is helping Port Otago remove communication “chokepoints” and allow conversation and business priorities to flow better. Able to be seen on large displays around the port, the Port Otago team can now see different shipment graphics, play with ‘what if’ scenarios and predict safety conditions.

Enlighten’s scanner agent is being developed to transform a once formal way of police reporting, using Microsoft Azure maps, storage and creative functions.  It detects local dialects and lingo in real-time. It displays speech and audio data from thousands of dashboard events with speech and audio analytics, picking up on meaningful keywords and sounds.

Fully-automated online energy

Enlighten Designs and energy provider WEL Networks teamed up to create an automated energy retailer using Azure, called OurPower.

For New Zealanders with energy hardship, where the energy bill is more than 10% their income. Their mission is to deliver simply, cheap local power for those with energy hardship. OurPower is a fully automated online energy retailer, using Microsoft Azure to reduce operational costs and protect savings of families to spend on food and clothing.

In Raglan, Enlighten’s automated energy retailer solution enabled the community with the ability to buy and sell this locally generated power. A fast-tracked timeframe of twelve weeks enabled new possibilities with environmentally sustainable local energy sources.

Transformative security & business solutions

They’ve helped well-established security firm, Gallagher Group, respond to the small business market.  With Co-Pilot, they’ve powered up the 80-year-old company’s Sitecore content management system through Azure, enabling active selling direct to customer, and new export generation purchase abilities.

Gallagher can now understand and speak to the needs of customers throughout the relationship end-to-end, including questions of purchase, follow up, and customer maturity.

Virtualised ‘App in a Day’ & COVID-19 response solutions

Enlighten has been the first partner in the world to completely virtualise the App in a Day workshop. Before, this one-day workshop was face-to-face only. By bringing this-one-of-a-kind learning experience online, Enlighten is teaching a wider audience the essential elements that go into app creation using Microsoft Power Apps.

Their COVID-19 responsiveness has been locally focused, too, with several fast-tracked solutions. In a four-day timeframe, the Enlighten Team built a COVID-19 crisis site for Te Waka, the Waikato regional economic development agency, lessening the pandemics impact on Hamilton’s small businesses.

They managed to go-to-market with an Office 365 Crisis communication solution and free Power BI Visualisation report in just 48-hours, helping organisations weather and mitigate issues caused by COVID-19.

Collaborating & the Microsoft Partner Network

Partnerships matter for impactful technology solutions. This is shown in Enlighten Designs partnership with Microsoft, that have allowed these powerful transformations to be realised.

Enlighten’s Microsoft partnership has enabled access into the Microsoft Geo Expansion Program, enabling them to actively expand the market presence of their solutions. They’ve also been Microsoft’s Delivery Partner for the Modern Journalism Program, an initiative to digitally transform the media industry with ‘lighthouse moments’.

Along with partnerships, specialisation is key. Enlighten are Data and AI experts. They have built this up through partnered use of Azure and Power BI through Microsoft, as well as SharePoint, PowerApps and Teams practice based in a Modern Workplace framework.

In their award acceptance, Enlighten explains the fast-expanding value of these partnerships and specialisation. “Microsoft Partners have always led the way in adoption and innovation. With a strong partner to partner motion, in conjunction with Microsoft, we are all enjoying this momentum.”

“With growing demand by our customers to digitally succeed, the need to specialize and collaborate is the way of the future,” he adds.


The Enlighten Designs team in Hamilton.  Image Credit: Enlighten Designs. 

As Enlighten Design readies itself for another year of progress on the cloud, the Microsoft Country Partner of the Year Award is kudos to their incredible strides in innovation and community-building.

Matt Bostwick, Commercial Partner Director at Microsoft NZ, adds: “This is an exciting moment for me personally, as I’ve worked closely with Damon and the Enlighten team for many years, watching them grow and evolve as a business that’s making a real difference for its customers and our local communities.”

“From helping to clean up our beaches with Sustainable Coastlines to improving access to electricity and supporting local businesses to engage better with their customers, Enlighten truly exemplifies an innovative, exceptional partner that well deserves to be recognised on the world stage. I look forward to seeing what more they can achieve in years to come.”

To find out more about Enlighten Designs and their Umbrellar partnership, visit their Partner Directory.


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Cat Mules

Umbrellar's Digital Journalist, coming from a background in tech reporting and research. Cat's inspired by the epic potential of tech and helping kiwi innovators share their success stories.

Enlighten Designs

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Enlighten Designs creates beautiful, user-friendly digital solutions. As an award-winning creative technical agency, our mission is to deliver digitally transformative experiences for customers ranging from small businesses to enterprise clients. Founded in 1998, Enlighten Designs is based on our passion to bring exceptionally designed, innovative and custom technology solutions from the shores of New Zealand to the world.


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Microsoft is a technology company whose mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. We strive to create local opportunity, growth, and impact in every country around the world.

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