Microsoft Inspire - news from Washington

Writing today from Dulles airport following a really interesting week at the Microsoft Inspire conference (formerly known as WPC). Four jolly Cloudreachers spent the week here, amongst 17,000 others to hear the latest from the Redmond crew. If you didn’t make it, here’s a few notes from me to bring you up to speed.


It was. Microsoft do many things well, and executing these type of events is one of them. All of the keynotes were opened and closed by inspirational people, whether they were record breaking climbers, or developing artificial hands for amputees. We saw case studies using tech to save the sight of blind children in less well off countries. All very positive stuff. Personally I loved the Hololens examples (Boeing and Thyssenkrupp) - I’m convinced AR is going to really change the way we interact with the world over the next 5 years.

What about the real content?

Back on the business side, Satya (CEO, if you’ve forgotten) rolled out a super slick keynote covering many things, including:

  • Strong words regarding the future of cloud computing being linked to Serverless, compute at the Edge, and the democratisation of advanced AI services. Interestingly, there were words for AzureStack being used as a platform for driving Edge based computing. I’ve written before my belief in these areas, and it was superb to hear the leader of one of the biggest companies on the planet driving this home.
  • Microsoft believe the addressable market value in cloud is around $4.5Tn…..That’s a lot. This was repeated many times over the week, doubtless to try and stir up some interest in the more, ahem, traditional partners.
  • A restructure of how Microsoft will go to market, all geared around cloud computing. I’m certain it sucks to be on the "negative" side of the re-org, but man it’s the right thing to do for the company as a whole.
  • Changes to comp plans for their field teams. All major vendors have been through this process, and credit to Microsoft for now aligning all payments to consumption, i.e. people actually using the services.

Red carpet

We’ve been lucky this year, meeting an incredible range of Microsoft execs - including a CEO 1-1 with Satya himself for Pontus on our side. One of the keynote messages said “this organization is not just partner-led. It’s partner-first”. We definitely saw that in terms of the effort made, and the feedback taken.

See you at Microsoft Inspire next year?

You bet. We were in Toronto last year, and we’ll be in Las Vegas next year. I do wish they had picked another city though….only so much Vegas one can take….. One point I’d like to close with, away from cloud computing: whenever I interact with Microsoft, I’m struck by what a gender-diverse organisation they have. The number of strong female leaders they employ is an example to the rest of the world. Speaking of female leaders, I’d call out a quote used in the keynote from one such person - the CEO of Spanx, where she said they push their teams to think: "if no one told you how to do your job, how would you do it". Worth thinking about.

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