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Microsoft Inspire, 2019 – A week on, has it kept its fizz?

Julie WhitingAugust 1st 2019

cloudThing attended Microsoft Inspire 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada, to find out about Microsoft's upcoming plans and new features- we've been 'Inspire'd by the new features and are excited to implement them into our services and products to provide you with the best end result possible.

Microsoft Inspire 2019 took place on 15th-19th July at Las Vegas, Nevada, US and two of our Co-Founders and Directors, Jay Neale and Fran Thomas, went along to the event. As proud Gold Microsoft Partners, we attended so that we could gain an insight to the many new and exciting additions to the Microsoft Platforms and so that we can be pro-active and keep our services updated. Having returned with a wealth of information, we are looking forward to improving, as Microsoft have, for the better! 

Alongside the incredible venue and experience of being in Las Vegas, Jay and Fran had a great time attending sessions and gaining new found knowledge which we’ll look to act on to stay up-to-date with Microsoft’s innovative changes so that we can offer our customers the latest and greatest tech platforms to help their business to perform at its best and most efficient. So, one week on after Inspire, what have we done with the wealth of new insight acquired, have we digested it, and are we ‘Inspire’d? (Pun very much intended). The short answer is, yes! 

Well, if any of you have used Partner Connect, updates have already happened, and you should now be able to see an updated and simpler version which allows you to make changes much easier and quicker. The main advantage is that everything is housed under one roof and you no longer have to shift through lots of portals- it’s still early days and although there are still and bound to be a few teething troubles, Microsoft have certainly delivered.  

What was the key focus of the event? You guessed it, Microsoft Azure, but you may be thinking, what does that mean for cloudThing and for you as our current and prospective customers? Well, Microsoft have many new features and improvements that they are implementing, and we are already seeing the positive effect of some of them. For example, the Partner Connect portal, as mentioned above, has improved significantly meaning that we can make a more efficient use of our time by being able to update information ourselves. Therefore, we are able to continue to build our brand through the MarketPlace at a competitive pace. How will this expansion benefit our current and prospective customers? You’ll be able to see all of our services and products available to your specific sector, and so cloudThing are working hard at building IPs for more verticals and creating more sector-specific products, such as our brilliant product, giftaidThing, for the Not-for-Profit sector which helps to efficiently submit Gift Aid donations correctly to HMRC. As Gavriella Schuster so eloquently said, “Our (Microsoft’s) relationship has changed. The tables have turned, and we have become your channel.” 

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“This is the year of Azure Cloud migrations” - Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President, One Commercial Partner, Microsoft

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Now, we appreciate that not all organisations are currently on the cloud, but whilst being at Inspire, we learnt that the number was higher than we imagined, we know that organisations will soon be left behind and unable to compete with others in their sector. This is because the technological world is creating new ways to become more efficient and help run business processes more effectively. Not to worry, your jobs aren’t going to be taken over by robots, or holograms, in reality these technological advances are here to make the most efficient use of your time by completing the more simple and mundane tasks. We at cloudThing are subject matter experts when it comes to cloud migration, we have been there done that and got the T shirt and can provide support in the form of a cloud readiness assessment to customers who are yet to transform to the cloud, and we are here to help you in the best possible way and to demonstrate the many advantages available to you. Our discovery processes are here to understand you, your organisation, brand and your values so that we can help you to create the systems and automations that will be most useful in your workplace. We pride ourselves in making sure the journey to the cloud is as good as it can be and understand the importance of it being completed correctly. Coined as the “oil of the 21rst century!” Your data is of great importance to your organisation and of course, you want to protect it as best you can, cue cloudThing.  

So, some of the many improvements and new features that Microsoft have include the Business Applications, in particular D365 Marketing. Ranging from new features of email marketing with A/B testing in order to determine which will have the best impact on the targeted audience, to the creation of landing pages which will aid in driving more traffic to your pages and therefore increasing the opportunity to generate a lead and potentially a new customer/donor/tenant etc., depending on your sector. Events will be monitored and analysed better with regards to have many have signed up versus those that actually attended so that in the future you can have a better idea of the turnout rate and are able to better organise your events with regards to numbers, and social media platforms are now being integrated into the Microsoft platform so that you can better promote your brand whilst keeping customer engagement high and satisfactory.  

Question: Do you think that only the Business/Professional Service Sectors use this form of technology? Answer: No, the Sport industry are also starting to take advantage of Microsoft’s technology. For example, the German Bundesliga (Deutsche Fußball Liga) find this platform highly effective within their organisation, ranging from marketing events and games, to social media engagement, to data on their systems.  

Other improvements and changes that Microsoft are making are in the Power Platform which consists of three areas: PowerBI (used for business analytics), PowerApps (used for application development) and Microsoft Flow (focuses on workflow automation). What key point will make you sit up and think about this platform if you are in need of building applications? No matter how simple or complex you want an application to be, the Power Platform in based on a low code application platform, meaning that it is easier for organisations to build applications themselves. Yes, it’s really that simple! Main benefits are that overall it can add intelligence to help solve and complete everyday tasks, therefore improving the efficiency in running of the organisation, as well as also reducing the costs in building and running these applications, and future-proofing any further developments that may occur on this platform ‘foundation’. Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of this?! CloudThing can easily help you on your way!  

Now, we move onto the topic of AI. Is it really just robots and holograms? Are cars going to drive themselves and we remain passengers? The fact is, AI can be really useful and effective in your organisation and sector, just as long as you understand how it can be used, the key is unlocking it potential and what it means for you and your business. For example, it’s amazing that we have technologically advanced in order to create a hologram that can translate our words and speak in a foreign language, and we were all in awe at Inspire 2019, but this is only useful if it is relevant to your organisation. Julia White, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft spoke about how AI could be a great opportunity for many organisations to capitalise on- "They need someone to come in and help them think through, what is their AI strategy?” CloudThing, on behalf of Microsoft and as Gold Partners, are here to help you understand the power of AI in general and for your sector, and how it need not be a term or phrase that creates angst or uncertainty. 

 

Of course, there are so many more improvements that Microsoft have and are looking to implement on their innovative roadmap, but we couldn’t mention all of them in this blog! We have certainly gained some useful and helpful information which we’ll look to act upon in order to make our services, products, and customer’s experience even better! If you want to see how we can help you with your organisation, whether it’s to improve efficiency in business processes, implement a digital transformation or ask a question about Microsoft’s Azure and Dynamics platforms, why not get in touch today? We’ve certainly been ‘Inspire’d, the question is, have you? 

© Julie WhitingAugust 1st 2019

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