Microsoft Inspire, the event once known as the “Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference” is an unforgettable experience that takes place every year, to provide partners of the Microsoft Corporation with an insight into the latest software, hardware, and services available from Microsoft. Inspire gives partners a chance to see the roadmap of the innovative organisation first-hand and share their best practice advice with other Microsoft sellers.
Following this year’s Inspire event, we spoke to Tim Field, the Country Manager for PeterConnects. He was on-hand to tell us all about what he learned at Microsoft Inspire, and the predictions he has made about the years ahead based on the company’s impressive portfolio.
Tell Us About Your Microsoft Inspire Experience?
PeterConnects is a software company that develops state-of-the-art solutions closely connected to the Microsoft Portfolio. This unique company offers a product family that spans over Attendant Console & Service Desk solutions, Context manager services, and directory features.
Tim told me that he attended Microsoft Inspire this year with an “exhibitor pass” which meant that he had a booth through which he and his team could demonstrate the portfolio and software that they were bringing to the market in the months ahead. PeterConnects had numerous people at the Inspire event, including their CEO. “As a partner, we were privileged to have a booth there, as we already work very closely with Microsoft.”
Tim gave me a call soon after his return from Inspire to tell me all about the main themes he had seen at the conference.
Discussing Digital Journey Transformation
One of the first topics that Tim brought up was the concept of digital transformation (DX) and cultural transformation in the business environment. Companies are now moving into the next stage of performance at an unprecedented rate, thanks to the expansive nature of the cloud. Tim told me that digital transformation is “reducing costs to businesses, optimising their performance, and helping them to succeed as they move into the future. The cloud means that companies can find their footing in a digital environment, discover new productivity, and succeed in the world of technology.”
According to Tim, a big theme at Microsoft Inspire was how Partners could help companies move into the cloud and digital transformation.
“Being able to digitalise fully was a big conversation, as well as how brands could tap into things like Microsoft Dynamics. It will be interesting to see what the statistics are like for digital transformation next year. This year, Microsoft showed a 300-400% increase in uptake over the last 12 months.”
The Value of Security
Security was another big topic according to Tim. As cyber weapons enter the Arms race, Microsoft is promoting a greater level of safety and protection for the global digital environment. Tim noted that the rise of security concerns in the marketplace is a big opportunity for partners, but also a common concern.
“People are still nervous about using AI, and how that will affect security. I felt a little more at peace at Microsoft Inspire when I learned that Microsoft was leading the way towards better security from an AI perspective. They discussed how they’re going to be pushing developers to take a sort of Hippocratic oath with AI in the future, to make sure that whatever they create is safe.”
It’s an interesting concept to think that Microsoft will be pushing developers to take oaths around software. However, as we continue to see more of what AI is capable of, this step could also help to put some customers at ease.
AI and Mixed Reality: The Vision of the Future
Microsoft clearly has an outstanding vision of the future. Tim noted that the company was discussing in Inspire the concept of business meetings where people can project themselves into meeting rooms around the world. AI is a thread that seemed to appear in everything at Inspire, thanks to a stronger focus on things like HoloLens and HoloBeam technology.
Tim told me: “They were showing demonstrations of HoloBeam at Inspire – though it’s still in the Beta phase right now. It’s basically a solution that creates an augmented reality version of someone in the meeting room. You can also create diagrams and virtual hardware products in addition to other things in a holographic image and dissect that image in real-time for a more immersive demonstration. It’s not available yet, but I think they’re very close to bringing this kind of technology to the market.”
New Mobile Software
Tim noted that Microsoft is also working on new software which will allow people to control the apps on their smartphone from their Desktop and Windows 10. One of the biggest selling points of this feature for Tim was the promise that it could improve productivity.
“Microsoft estimates that people view their phones anywhere up to 1000 times per day. Integrating your mobile applications and alerts onto your laptop or desktop could save you a lot of time on checking your phone. You’d have your WhatsApp, messages,and everything else you need integrated into your desktop including even apps such as UBER or Slack. It even allowed the possibility to copy and paste images from apps such as WhatsApp straight into a PowerPoint presentation.”
Microsoft believes that their new Windows 10 feature “Your Phone” will be available for release later in 2018.
The Rise of Microsoft Teams
Another interesting topic to arise at Microsoft Inspire was around the concept of Microsoft Teams. Field noted that Microsoft recently won a huge contract with the NHS, to help doctors and healthcare workers improve their productivity and efficiency at work.
Microsoft Teams is a hot topic throughout the communication and collaboration space right now. “For me, the most exciting thing was the use of Microsoft Teams in the NHS. Microsoft has won a huge contract here which allows doctors to use their own custom versions of MS Teams designed for the NHS. They can sign for things using their tablet or phone, view important documents, X-Rays and even interact with specialists around the globe.”
Tim believes that the integration of Microsoft services into the NHS should help to make UK healthcare more efficient for patients and doctors alike. At the same time, the adoption of Microsoft Teams throughout other verticals is growing too, particularly with the possibility of VoIP on the horizon – something PeterConnects will be supporting.
Valuable Video Searching
Finally, Tim drew my attention to the concept of Video Searching as a feature from Microsoft. Video Searching offers individuals the ability to search for specific keywords and terms in their online recordings and videos. This searching strategy means that you can avoid having to watch hours of video content just to find a minute or two of conversation that’s relevant to you.
“You can search for keywords just like you would on Google, and flip to the captions that you need. It’s a fast and efficient way to sort through video. This kind of Natural Language Understanding and speech analytics is a huge step forward for the industry.”
Great Things are Coming from Microsoft
Tim’s experience at Microsoft Inspire was an empowering one, to say the least. He told me that Microsoft is working on their partner to partner platform to help people create bespoke offerings for their customers and strengthen their selling propositions while investing in R&D innovation from a service and product perspective.
“It was a great event with amazing sessions and fantastic announcements. We’re looking forward to another exciting year as a Microsoft Partner, and we’ll be visiting Inspire again next year. Also, we want to give a big congratulations to the Microsoft UK team for their incredible achievements this year in becoming Microsoft subsidy of the year.”