Pyrios’ Mark Charlesworth delivers his take on Microsoft Inspire 2018, the event formerly known as the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), held 15-19 July in Las Vegas, Nevada.

During his keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella outlined customer scenarios in the “intelligent cloud” and at the “intelligent edge”, covering the Azure platform in all its guises, traversing public cloud, Azure Stack, Azure Sphere, and artificial intelligence.

The storyline covered familiar bases, including transformation fuelled by cloud, artificial intelligence, mixed reality, and the Internet of Things, and how these technologies are helping businesses and society reach new heights.

From these elevated heights, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer took it down a notch to the thorny topic of privacy – perhaps THE issue of the connected digital age. As an industry leader, Microsoft believes they have a responsibility to protect privacy, outlining plans to develop a Geneva convention-type event to shape the future of cyber security and the ethics of emerging technology.

On the business front, Microsoft is in fine fettle, recording strong growth in Microsoft 365, Dynamics, and Azure. They’re also picking across-the-board growth in most solution areas, in particular business applications – the likes of Power BI, Flow, and Power Apps.

Ron Markezich, corporate VP Microsoft 365, outlined the growth position of Microsoft 365 and associated devices, as scheduled support for Windows 7 and Office 2010 nears its end.

Updating Microsoft’s plan to ultimately replace its Skype for Business Online communications service with Microsoft Teams, Markezich said Skype for Business Online and Microsoft Teams were at “parity,” providing the ability to create voice-managed services and modernise voice infrastructure.

Microsoft said Teams will play a key role in making meetings more efficient, by helping people prepare beforehand, have conversations during, and manage follow-up. The Microsoft Skype network is currently managing over a million meetings and three billion-plus minutes of voice and video every day.

Microsoft has also come to the party with a free version of Teams, a move that is likely to significantly boost the more than 200,000 businesses currently using Teams – and put Slack in its sights in the workplace communication sector.

Finally, it was great to see Microsoft build on its ‘cloud first’ business focus. There’s plenty more innovation and new products on the horizon that will keep Microsoft at the head of the pack.

Author: Mark Charlesworth

Managing Director at Pyrios.

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