As I walked out on stage this morning and saw more than 13,000 Microsoft partners, I was in awe of the passion and energy in the arena. This is one of my favorite weeks of the year!

Every year at Microsoft Inspire, our annual partner conference, we come together to celebrate what we’ve accomplished, to make new connections, and to take a look at what’s in store for the year to come. This is what partnerships are all about.

Earlier today, I shared some important news about changes we announced recently to the partner programs, competencies and Internal Use Rights. We underestimated the impact they would have on our partners, so we’ve rolled back the changes. Protecting our shared trust is my top priority, and this was the right decision for everyone.

As we head into the next few days, we have a terrific lineup of corenote presentations from leaders across the company—Judson Althoff (EVP of our Worldwide Commercial Business) spoke this morning, and CEO Satya Nadella and President Brad Smith will speak on Wednesday. Each session will explore the power of partnerships and the new opportunities we’re seeing for the ecosystem. We hope all the Microsoft partners that have converged on Las Vegas this week make connections, capitalize on all the new information we’ll share, and have a lot of fun along the way.

Expanding your opportunities

We’re at an important time in the industry with the cloud expanding opportunities in many ways. At this morning’s corenote session, I discussed six big market opportunities for partners in FY20, aligned to Microsoft’s core solution areas:  In Modern Workplace, it’s all about security capabilities through Microsoft 365, along with extension and adoption of Microsoft Teams. For Business Applications, we see huge opportunities with PowerApps and Dynamics 365. Applications and Infrastructure is all about Azure migration. And for Data & AI, we see a lot of partner opportunity by helping customers unlock their data estate through analytics and artificial intelligence. We’re making investments to ensure partners have the right skills and resources to make the most of these opportunities.

We also continue to focus our investments and programs to help partners differentiate their services and offerings, go to market and connect with customers, and simplify how they do business with Microsoft and with each other. Here is a quick rundown, with many more investments being discussed this week at Inspire:

  1. Azure Lighthouse provides partners with cross-customer management at scale so they can differentiate their managed services and benefit from greater efficiency and governance.
  2. The Azure Migration Program (AMP) is designed to help partners accelerate their customers’ migration to Azure with proactive advice and tools.
  3. The new Microsoft Security competency is now available, allowing partners to market their expertise and providing access to a range of benefits designed to enable business growth and profitability.
  4. Five new specializations are available: Windows Server and SQL Server Migration to Microsoft Azure, Linux and Open Source Databases Migration to Microsoft Azure, Data Warehouse Migration to Microsoft Azure, Modernization of Web Applications in Microsoft Azure, and Kubernetes on Microsoft Azure. This is in addition to the SAP on Azure advanced specialization announced in May. A specialization for Teams is also on the way.
  5. We’re launching the AI Accelerate program, a new effort aimed at helping partners build and deploy AI offerings to customers more quickly.

Selling with Microsoft

One of the special things about our ecosystem is that Microsoft partners are encouraged and incentivized to innovate on top of Microsoft platforms—adding value for customers and creating new solutions and revenue opportunities. With our ongoing investments in our co-sell program, we expect the coming year to bring even more growth for our partners.

Microsoft Partner Ecosystem chart

Since the inception of our co-sell program 24 months ago, the program has seen $9.5 billion in annual contracted partner revenue. The amazing thing about the IP co-sell program is the deeper engagement we see with partners and customers—IP co-sell deals close three times faster, are six times larger and drive eight times more Azure consumption. These are amazing numbers!

Our commercial marketplace is creating even more opportunities for partners with 40 million users and more than 12,000 applications and services ready to go. To expand on those opportunities even further, this month the marketplace is rolling out new pricing models, a rewards program and a new route to market, including monthly and annual SaaS billing, custom metered options, standard contracts, and free SaaS trials that convert to paid engagements.

More to come this week

We’ve got some exciting things to talk about this week and I look forward to seeing you at Inspire!