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Microsoft aim to Inspire with new app integration and partner program

“You’re pushing forward” Satya Nadella tells Microsoft Partners

Microsoft Inspire 2017 has kicked off in Washington, DC. The company’s annual conference brings partners, industry experts, and Microsoft employees together to learn and network while exploring product innovations and the company’s vision for the coming year. More than 17,000 partner representatives from 160 countries are in attendance.

Opening with a mesmerising two-hour keynote, Satya Nadella discussed the growth of digital transformation is enhanced by cloud technologies, virtual reality, and increasing innovation of artificial intelligence. Growth he believes is a $4.5 trillion market opportunity.

Office 365 & Windows: Two Become One

Kicking things off was the announcement of the bundling of Office 365 and Windows for business users, including a range of additions to the now-unified platform.  This pairing simplifies licensing for those using Windows in conjunction with Microsoft’s cloud-based environment, further evidence of their long-term commitment to the cloud.

Microsoft 365 aims to provide one simple platform and make it an even more attractive proposition for partners and developers. Two tiers are currently announced: Microsoft 365 Enterprise and Microsoft 365 Business.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is tailored to meet the needs of large organizations. It is offered in two plans—Microsoft 365 E3 and Microsoft 365 E5—both of which will be available to purchase on August 1, 2017.

Both versions will include advanced security and productivity features, while the E5 version also includes advanced capabilities for collaboration, analytics, security, and compliance. Both E3 and E5 also include Enterprise Mobility + Security.

For small and medium sized businesses under 300 users, Microsoft 365 Business improves employee networking and connection with customers and suppliers. It will be available to preview on August 2, 2017, and available to purchase later in the fall, at a monthly price of $20 per user.

Microsoft hope the result is a complete solution that is more intelligent and secure, improving teamwork and streamlining integration. The goal of this solution is to empower an organization’s stakeholders, and transform their process and functions with smarter and customizable digital frameworks.

New Apps

Three new applications were revealed for Office 365 Business Premium and Microsoft 365 Business. Firstly Microsoft Connections, a simplistic email marketing solution, followed by Microsoft Listings, a tool for easily listing business information on leading sites. Finally, Microsoft Invoicing offers a new tool for professional invoicing.

Microsoft Connections

Dynamics 365

For those who work with Dynamics 365, Microsoft are aiming to offer a more centralized platform, highlighted by integration with LinkedIn, making their purchase of the company last year seem like a shrewd investment.

Highlighting the announcements, the two companies announced the general availability of Microsoft Relationship Sales, which combines the Enterprise edition of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales with LinkedIn Sales Navigator. The release helps users combine data from varying sources, including social media, productivity systems, and CRM platforms, to help companies build more personal relationships with buyers. The announcement states that the new solution is half the cost of comparable solutions from other companies.

Details were also announced for to two Dynamics editions: Retail and Talent. Dynamics 365 for Retail provides a centralized view combining information about stores, inventory, and financials, in addition to employee and customer information. Sophisticated and easy-to-use point-of-sale options help employees deliver a more interactive retail experience, and integrated workforce management tools aid management.

Alysa Taylor, general manager, Business Applications, at Microsoft Inspire

The Talent edition of Dynamics 365 provides a complete view of recruiting, onboarding, and retaining talent. LinkedIn Recruiter integration connects users with the world’s most popular social media platform for talent, a feature that gives them the edge on Salesforce. Tools included also help smooth the onboarding process by tailoring the experience to new recruits and focusing on getting each individual up to speed and providing valuable contact information that’s easy to locate.

Microsoft also announced its ongoing commitment to serving customers around the globe. Varying regulations around the world mean companies need to meet varying standards, and each data center is verified to ensure it’s appropriate for businesses working under those regulations. Some nations’ regulations require businesses to keep data within a particular geographical region. Due to new datacenter openings, Microsoft now offers support in Germany and the UK for Dynamics 365 for Sales, Field Service, Customer Service, and Professional Service Automation.

Partners

Microsoft 365 also has significant ramifications for partners. The integrated approach provides opportunities for modernizing users’ environments via managed services. Partners can more easily differentiate programs released for advanced enterprise clients. Microsoft believe the unified platform will, in conjunction with partners’ efforts, spur efforts to improve security and management while creating an easier-to-use interface.

In a reorganization effort, Microsoft introduced One Commercial Partner as an entirely new organization that puts partners first. The program is comprised of partner-focused teams with expertise on the proven measures that benefit partners. These teams serve three primary functions:

Build – Developmental experts work with partners to support and help build practices, property, and capabilities for optimal growth.

Market – Marketing experts help partners introduce solutions to market and expand on market opportunities.

Sales – Channel Managers act as the experts that connect partner solutions with their relevant customers using best practices and maps of marketplaces.

Ron Huddleston, corporate vice president, One Commercial Partner at Microsoft Inspire (Microsoft)

Azure Co-Sell and Channel Managers are the two primary sales solutions in the partner program. Azure Co-Sell guides partners to sell their solutions created with Microsoft Azure, providing both sales and marketing resources. Channel Managers are the experts positioned worldwide dedicated to selling partner solutions created with Azure, Office, and Dynamics 365.

The full breadth of opportunities within the One Commercial Partner organization will be covered more throughout Inspire, running until Thursday (13th July).

Expect more partners to share their digital transformation stories this week, as Microsoft provides the building blocks of commercial growth.

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