Nov 26,2020

The power of partnership

Joe Macri reflects on the 2020 Microsoft Partner Executive Summit and the opportunities for partner growth.

The annual Partner Executive Summit is always a special event in the UK calendar, and this year’s summit – at the start of a new year and a new decade – was no exception. Let me begin with my heartfelt thanks to those partners who joined us in person and via the livestream and, more importantly, to all our partners for your partnership with Microsoft. We’ve achieved so much together for our customers over the past year and we have many opportunities ahead together.

This year’s summit focused on the power of partnership. Microsoft is fundamentally an ecosystem company; we provide a platform for our partners to build their services and solutions. Partnership is a fundamental aspect of our unique business model, and it enables us to scale to the market opportunity in ways others can’t.

Scale is important, because here in the UK there’s a lot of market opportunity! For every $1 we create, you amplify that by $9.85 in associated products and services1. We have over 20,000 partner organizations in our ecosystem, and the economic impact of your collective work is astonishing.

This was never better reinforced than by Cindy Rose, UK CEO, who spoke about the power of partnership and the opportunity ahead of us. We work with customers every day in organizations big, small, public and private, across all industry sectors. As different as they all are, there’s one common thread – our customers are all on a transformation journey, fuelled in large part by technology. The pace of that transformation is now accelerating, and it’s a massive growth opportunity for our shared customers and for us as tech companies.

The global AI opportunity

A key driver of this pace of change is the striking business benefits delivered by artificial intelligence. AI is one of the greatest opportunities in today’s global economy. PwC predicts it will boost global GDP by 14 percent by 2030, which translates to an additional £230b for the UK economy. We are entering an era of ubiquitous computing, in which AI is infused into almost every digital experience we have. This is the real-world context for Satya Nadella’s luminous phrase, ‘tech intensity’. And AI will increasingly touch all the internet-enabled devices in our lives, from doorbells to gas meters.

With every company now a software company, we see a strong correlation between digital transformation and organizational growth. As Clare Barclay, Chief Operating Officer – Microsoft UK, elaborated: “We’re unlocking customer opportunities in business applications, modern workplace solutions, and the intelligent cloud.” Demand continues to grow, with 56 percent of UK businesses adopting AI, and these companies outperform their competitors across key metrics by 11.5 percent.

Technology, transparency and trust

As with any transformative technology, new opportunities raise concerns that must also be addressed. For example, digital acceleration prompts questions about employment, personal privacy, online content, and more. We need to know we can trust the tech we use, not to mention the companies that make it.

Trust is a matter of critical importance to us, and we recognise it has to be earned. That’s why, as Cindy Rose noted, we make three core promises to our partners, customers, and employees about how we run our business. These trust principles are about security, privacy, and transparency.

We invest over $1b a year on building our security capability, with thousands of engineers working around the clock to safeguard our data centres. Our privacy commitment is grounded in the belief that our customers’ data is their data – which is why we were the first to apply GDPR provisions to every customer around the world. And we promise transparency in the design, development, and deployment of AI.

On the subject of building trust, our new sustainability commitment pledges that Microsoft will be carbon-negative by 2030. By 2050, we will remove all the historical carbon that we’ve emitted since being founded in 1975. And we’re establishing a £1b climate innovation fund.

However, we will only achieve these goals by working with customers and with you, our partners. That’s why it was great to see Cindy launch a new pillar to the Partner Pledge around sustainability and reducing our collective carbon footprint. I invite you to go online to learn more, and hopefully sign up your organization to our pledge.

Putting our customers first

So how are we doing on our own digital transformation journey?We’re making good progress. Our culture fuels our ambitions as a company, and this has inevitably led to a constructive shift in our culture. As Damien Stirrett, General Manager, Enterprise Sales – Microsoft UK noted: “Our growth mindset was a major positive change as we progressed from a knowledge-based culture to a ‘learn-it-all’ culture.”

But a growth mindset has been just the start. We’ve complemented this with a focus on customer obsession: from engineering to sales, from marketing to HR, and from finance to operations,  everyone has been encouraged to think customer-first. And this aligns with our approach to diversity and inclusion. From diverse and inclusive design principles to our recruitment policies and team principles, we know that the more diverse we are, the more effectively we represent our customers – operating, ultimately, as One Microsoft.

Our customer focus also underlies our collective transformation from channel to partner ecosystem. To this end, we’ve simplified our commerce model and put you, our partners, right at the heart of it. We now have three channels through which customers can buy, with partners adding value to all of them. Our growing investment aims to directly help you transform your business – and, of course, we’re also increasing our investments into the market to generate demand and create opportunities for you.

Accelerating your success: three takeaways

On this point, there are three key takeaways for partners from this year’s summit.

  1. Go deeper in industry and build capability through advanced technical skills, specialisation, knowledge and expertise in industry, as well as partnering to offer the best solutions.
  2. Accelerate your transformation and focus on building cloud-based managed services and IP for the marketplace.
  3. Lastly, develop a culture-led strategy that’s right for your organization. This transformation is proven to drive increased business with our customers.

Finally, let me wrap up by returning to our mission, to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Cindy reflected on this in her keynote, and I can only reiterate her fitting words: “This commitment inspires us to be a little better every day, and one of the reasons we’re able to be a little better every day is the quality of our wonderful partners.”

So let me finish where I began, with a massive thank you – because our mission is only possible through the power of partnership.

If you missed our Partner Summit or want to revisit the presentations, you can watch the sessions here.

Find out more

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  1. Source IDC