James Chadwick
James Chadwick ISV Lead, Microsoft UK
Dec 08,2020

Working together to build an inclusive recovery

Female and male developers collaborate while walking to a meeting in their enterprise office space

It’s never been clearer that technology has a critical role to play in helping the world respond to the pandemic and its major economic challenges. And now, as we look ahead and think tentatively about recovery, an unexpected opportunity presents itself.

Working together, we have a unique chance to use our capabilities and innovation to build a more sustainable, inclusive and equitable future.

Gavriella Schuster, CVP of One Commercial Partner, outlined our global vision for driving positive growth in her recent blog post, which also highlighted our related #BuildFor2030 campaign, launched in March.

The need for sustainable growth has certainly never been more important. But what does this mean for the UK business and, specifically, for our partners?

Learning from our research

Let me share some findings from the UK Materiality CSR survey that we carried out in April. (Many thanks to partners that helped us with responses.)

The survey looked broadly at sustainability, aiming to clarify which issues are most relevant to Microsoft UK. We wanted to rank these issues according to their importance for both the business and its stakeholders – including you, our partners. This work also helps shape our strategy and targets in the UK.

Our stakeholder research included consumers, employees, partners and experts, which consisted of a panel of specialists from government, NGOs and industry bodies. 

The top three priorities for UK partners, in order of importance, were climate change, digital skills and addressing the misuse of technology.

In fact, the impact of climate change was consistently rated most highly among all stakeholders. It featured in the top three issues and was most frequently rated in the top three issues across all audiences.

Interestingly, when it came to surmising Microsoft’s most material issue, our survey experts identified using products and technology to solve social and environmental issues. (No other stakeholders ranked this as a critical issue.) The panel believed our most critical contribution on climate change would be to use our technology to help combat it.

Understanding the opportunity

So, what is the opportunity in using Microsoft products and technologies to achieve social and environmental good?

For the experts, this is where Microsoft and our partners can make the most impact by far. It is both core to the business and a clear counterpart to our existing ‘Responsible Use of Tech’ theme, which drives positive outcomes while guarding against the negatives.

We are well placed to develop a proactive, collaborative, nationwide partner-and-customer Tech for Good effort. And the value of the opportunity is significant.

For example, It’s estimated that delivering on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (the “Global Goals”) could unlock $12 trillion in market opportunity annually by 2030, while creating or retaining millions of jobs. Sustainability solutions around climate change alone could generate $26 trillion in economic gain within the next 10 years. 

Our partners make a difference 

Driving sustainability and creating wider prosperity depend on building for 2030 now.

This will mean designing innovative and inclusive solutions and services, based on technology platforms that can be trusted. We will need to engage creatively and work in partnership to build opportunities for traditionally under-served groups and communities.

With technology’s growing role across society, our partner ecosystem is in a unique position to contribute to an inclusive economic recovery and growth. We believe Microsoft and its partners can become a strong force for systemic regeneration.

We’re constantly proud that our partners help drive positive change, and I wrote recently about redoubling our efforts to build an even more inclusive and diverse tech sector.

It’s important to stress that these efforts change lives. That’s why we continue to champion the UK Partner Pledge, which mutually commits Microsoft and partners to ensuring technology is a force for good in society, and to tackling broader challenges across the UK.

It’s also why we recently ran our Partner Resource Group (PRG) sessions. You can still watch the PRG sessions on demand for ideas on how to drive diversity, inclusion and other positive initiatives within your organisation.

Prepare to #BuildFor2030

We’re keen to hear how your solutions are supporting sustainable growth. That’s why, for our #BuildFor2030 campaign, we’re currently showcasing partner solutions that align with the UN’s Global Goals. Featured solutions will receive exposure in the commercial marketplace, go-to-market benefits and more.

We can already celebrate some outstanding solutions and services, and I want to mention a small handful here.

Agrimetrics is one of the best-known agri-tech companies. It’s also a data marketplace for the food and farming sector, where users can find, manage and monetise agri-food data. Providing new insights into food production, the company believes in the power of shared data to drive industry innovation.

Akari was a winner in our 2020 Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards. The company uses Microsoft solutions to help adults and children overcome learning difficulties. It puts accessibility at the heart of all it does, winning heartfelt praise from its service users: “My son is so bright, but he was losing confidence as he was scoring 20 to 30 percent. Since using the bot and Microsoft tools, he’s now scoring over 80 percent. He has Asperger’s and dysgraphia, and just having help with Immersive Reader and Text to Speech has made SUCH a massive difference. The ability to just ask Teams questions and get the answers and videos back is such a difference to him.”

What we see here is a story of transformation. A bot enables a child to understand more, independently, and in turn, helps the child overcome barriers to self-esteem. Technology helps the child become the best they can be. The outcome: renewed confidence and empowerment, all thanks to a bot.

Meanwhile, Future Worx has created a Teams chatbot that enables users to understand the platform’s accessibility features, enabling all meetings to be inclusive. The bot can work across Office 365, Edge and Windows 10.

Mevitae is using HR data and analytics to help organisations build diverse, productive teams in the fairest way possible. They can help you understand your current workforce and attract and retain new talent, bias-free, and with an impressive ROI.

Wanted: sustainable partner solutions

If you’re a Microsoft partner with an unbuilt idea for a solution that supports the UN’s Global Goals, we want to hear from you. There’s still time to publish your idea and be considered for our #BuildFor2030 campaign.

Please head to Solution Workspace to start creating, or visit the Microsoft commercial marketplace if you’re ready to publish your solution. 

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