The digital first responder opportunity with Microsoft - Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program

The digital first responder opportunity with Microsoft

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This blog was bylined by Gavriella Schuster in her former role as Microsoft Channel Chief.

From critical frontline workers in healthcare, retail, and the food and beverage industries to vital support workers in manufacturing, agriculture, and the public sector, people and organizations everywhere have adapted to an unpredictable situation since the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Microsoft partners have responded expertly and efficiently at a time when the world has needed the aid of technology the most. The Microsoft partner ecosystem has stepped in as digital “first responders,” delivering vital technological support for those impacted by the pandemic—which is just about all of us. Here is a small selection of great efforts by Microsoft partners around the world:

Liquid Telecom

Liquid Telecom runs Africa’s largest telecom network and has been a key part of the continent’s digital development. In its drive to help the continent’s fight against the virus, Liquid Telecom established a free national COVID helpline in Zimbabwe, enabling people to access crucial healthcare advice. Alongside this, the organization has also established free Wi-Fi in quarantine stations in Zambia

Element AI

The Montreal-based AI provider has been ahead in its response to the COVID pandemic, using cutting-edge technology and expertise to help flatten the curve. At the start of the pandemic, Element AI unveiled its Corona Calculator, an AI-powered tool that simulates the rate of virus transmission and the effect of social distancing.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

HPE is at the front of the COVID response, having released vital funding to help those who need it most. The organization provided $50 million to assist with the set-up of pop-up clinics, testing sites and temporary hospital facilities in the United States, Canada and in regions of  Europe and Asia.


After six months of implementing process management and automation to help organizations keep going during COVID-19, Nintex—leaders in workflow automation—received a 2020 Tech Cares Award for their efforts. The award celebrates software vendors that have gone above and beyond to provide their communities, clients and front-line workers with valuable resources and critical support during the pandemic. Nintex quickly rolled out no cost training and certification programs, free process and workflow templates, and coaching services to help organizations around the world digitally transform faster, create and shift processes and automate work.

The focus on opportunity

Despite the uncertainty that has surrounded us for many months, there are enormous opportunities brought by the challenges we’ve been confronted with. Businesses have faced a sudden, urgent need to shift to remote working. And to accommodate this for their employees, they have accelerated their digital transformation plans, which provides the opportunity to reduce overhead and become more efficient and effective as a business. Of course, that also creates opportunities for Microsoft partners to come in with solutions and services that help customers transform.

Let’s take a look at some of those partner opportunities:

Empowering cloud adoption

Business leaders and organizations of all sizes must speed up their digital transformation to respond and recover from the fallout of COVID-19. For Microsoft Partners, this means more opportunity to expand your client base with businesses who not only need the right tools to succeed but the right long-term strategy to re-imagine the future of their organization. This sets partners up for long-term collaborations where they own the end-to-end customer engagement.

How Microsoft partners can help customers thrive:

By helping their customers establish a sustainable funding model to support their cloud investments, partners can ensure the best possible business outcomes. By facilitating a combination of technology solutions—such as Microsoft 365—that help develop a new operating model, along with more efficient processes, partners can ensure their customers are thriving rather than simply surviving.

Focusing on managed services

Along with cloud adoption, this moment in time brings a great opportunity to provide managed services to customers. Businesses of all sizes are uneasy about large up-front costs for IT investments, so presenting a more cost-effective approach to digital transformation through managed services will be a welcome opportunity for customers.

Where Microsoft partners can help customers thrive:

Partners can play the role of hero for customers in a real time of need. Now is the perfect time to transition to a managed service model that incorporates monthly subscription billing. Customers will appreciate the reduction in overhead while looking to you as trusted advisors rather than simply sellers. Also, adding a managed service practice will help partners build their own business for the long-term.

Increasing business agility

If there is one takeaway from the last several months, it’s that we never really know what’s around the corner. For an organization to be successful in the future they must be prepared for anything. Business leaders are already prioritizing agility and resilience to a degree we haven’t seen before.

How Microsoft partners can help customers thrive:

The best technology companies are proactive rather than reactive. Microsoft partners can differentiate by helping their customers harness forward-thinking solutions that generate an ever-evolving model of agility. Flexibility is a fundamental component of the complete Microsoft portfolio. Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, and Dynamics 365 are built with agility, flexibility and business resilience in mind from the start.

Building a digital brand

With the race to help customers and bring them further along their digital transformation, partner organizations can inadvertently let marketing slip down on the list of priorities—but it remains a critical part of business success today. Take the time now to look closely at your marketing efforts. Optimize for the current market conditions, and make sure all the work you do for customers is being seen by your target audience.

The organizations who appear in the Top50 Microsoft Partners website are positioning themselves as thought leaders and industry experts, which strengthens their relationships with customers. The website showcases the best marketing going on in Microsoft­’s partner channel and celebrates the hard work of the teams using inbound and content marketing to engage their audiences and provide real value and insight.

The Microsoft Partner Top 50

Digital marketing agency Fifty Five and Five have long supported partners in the efforts to showcase the best of themselves. For six years now they have released the Microsoft Partner Top 50 report, which I have contributed a foreword to.

This year they have embraced business agility and transformed their publication into an interactive website that partners can use to see their ranking, and soon optimize their marketing efforts. So, if you’d like to benchmark your marketing and track your progress over the next few months, now is the time to start.


  • Microsoft Image
    Former Microsoft Channel Chief

    As a C-level Microsoft executive and thought leader, Gavriella led the global portfolio of channel partners that influenced over $1 trillion in ecosystem revenues. She brought over 20 years of leadership in digital and cloud transformation roles, driving strategy and execution spanning all aspects of business model and product development, launch, marketing, sales and partner development. Until 2021, Gavriella led global recruitment, enablement and engagement of the Microsoft partner ecosystem. As a builder and change agent, she has built and turned around businesses by inspiring a vision for future customer relevance and engaging teams in developing the roadmap.