Hey everybody, Jay Leask, Strategic Advisor for AvePoint, here. Craig Jahnke and I have been having a great time doing our On the Spot podcast and for episode 2 we’re joined by AvePoint’s own Dux Raymond Sy, CTO for AvePoint Public Sector and CMO for AvePoint! Hear his unique take on the Microsoft partner ecosystem, Teams, Bots, and more! To hear our full interview with Dux, click here

On the SPOT Episode 2 is here! #spotpodE2 <– join in the conversation

Interview with Dux Raymond Sy (17:10)

The below questions paraphrase Jay and Craig’s side of the conversation with Dux, the answers are his own words.

Tell us about your experience at Microsoft’s partner conference, Microsoft Inspire.

This is my eighth World Wide Partner Conference, which has been rebranded as Inspire, and I think this is the biggest shift for Microsoft, not only for partners but as an organization. And boy is it going to be a great time to be a Microsoft partner. At the end of the week, the theme was that Microsoft is not only going to be a Partner-led company, but it’s going to be a Partner-First company. So now their focus on partners is much stronger from all aspects of Microsoft: from engineering, to sales, to marketing. It was an exciting event. Talk about shift, it’s going to be a big big shift for Microsoft.

What were some of your key takeaways from the conference?

There’s really three big learnings I walked away with:

1. Microsoft’s Focus on Partners

Because of the cloud, [Microsoft realizes] they need this partner ecosystem to be working with them closely. One statistic they brought up is that with the growth of the cloud and edge devices, Satya [Nadella, Microsoft CEO] was pushing this concept of intelligent cloud and intelligent edge, which is a 4.5 trillion dollar opportunity. That’s a lot of money, or a lot of opportunity, for partners.

One of the biggest changes — shifts, if you may — is the idea that partners should really be side-by-side with Microsoft. Number 1, when they build technologies, they want to build with partners. Back in the day, Microsoft would build a software, the developers would go at it, the engineers would go at it, and then when they push it out there for partners to figure out and sell. What [Microsoft is now] saying is “we want some top partners that we will work with, that we will share the road map with, that we will get feedback and build technologies with.” That’s a big change.

The second big change is they want to go to market with partners more. It’s not just a one-off event, or webinars, or brochures, but they really want to put together a holistic go-to-market program on how to market not only Microsoft technologies but partner technologies as well.

Last but not least, is they want to sell with partners. What they mean by that is essentially, obviously, partners that build technologies on top of the Microsoft stack, but what they’re talking about is their people, their sales team, would not only sell Microsoft solutions, but would also sell partner solutions as well. That’s really exciting and opens up a lot of opportunity for partners as well.

The focus on partners is much stronger and much bigger.

2. Microsoft is streamlining how they look at their technology stack

Technologies [have traditionally been] broken into things like Office 365, Dynamics 365, Azure, Windows devices, but Microsoft wants to reposition and simplify it into four core pillars:

  1. First, it’s what they call the Modern Workplace. When you think about modern workplace it’s the day to day activities, day to day work, which includes Office 365, Windows, EMS, anything that has to do with productivity. As a part of Modern Workplace they launched Microsoft 365, which is essentially a bundling of Windows, Office 365, and EMS.
  2. The second pillar is business applications; think Dynamics 365, App Source, any business solution.
  3. The third pillar is data and [Artificial Intelligence]. This would be looking at advanced workloads that azure provides; things like cognitive services, machine learning, big data, Cortana intelligence suite. Anything that revolves around data and AI would fall under that third pillar.
  4. the fourth pillar is infrastructure and devices; any of their hardware or infrastructure investment falls under that pillar.

You will start seeing Microsoft messaging streamlined into those four pillars instead of simply product specific. At the end of the day, the way we work, the way we will see those products is based on those four pillars that they limited it to.

3. Industry solutions, from a selling perspective

Microsoft already had that, but their sales organization, their account management, will have teams focus on industry solutions. When we talk about industry solutions this is government, education, financial services, health care, retail, and their selling team will be focused on those industries, versus having a selling team sell Office 365 or SharePoint.

What was your favorite subject to talk about at Inspire?

Editors note: Dux was a speaker at Inspire on various subjects including:

  • Working with Government Business Decision Makers
  • Business Growth for IoT
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • CityNext for Urban Innovation

I’m grateful that I had various opportunities to speak in a quite diverse set of sessions. My favorite session that I did was a session I did with one of our partners, H3 Solutions, a session about AI. Essentially, our session was about how Microsoft partners can grow their business with Microsoft AI. So we talked about what we’re doing with AI as a company and we talked about how a partner, H3, extended our technologies to work with AI as well. If you’re not familiar, go to Microsoft.com/AI, Microsoft AI is a suite of technologies that encompasses bots, machine learning, cognitive services, etc. We talked about how we integrated it into our solutions, how it sets us apart as a partner, and H3 demoed what they did with bots and Teams and integrated it with our AvePoint Online Services. It was a fun session, there were a lot of partners interested and excited to learn about this. That was a really good session because, as we all know, AI is the future.