Microsoft Inspire 2023 was a major event for the tech industry. The event was held virtually in July 2023 and highlighted the company’s commitment to innovation and collaboration. It also highlighted several advancements in different areas. There were various significant announcements during Microsoft Inspire 2023, including the launch of Bing Chat Enterprise, Microsoft 365 Copilot pricing, $100M investment around analytics and AI, general availability of multiparty private offers feature, the launch of Sales Copilot, more solutions partner designations, and launch of the Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program.
Through keynotes and sessions, Microsoft Inspire 2023 offered partners the opportunity to gain insights into new and emerging technologies, access co-selling benefits, and leverage valuable go-to-market resources. For Microsoft CSPs, looking to maintain a competitive edge and boost business growth, Microsoft Inspire 2023 emerged as a valuable event.
Let us have a look at the key announcements from Microsoft Inspire 2023 that could impact Microsoft CSPs.
New Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program
In October 2022, Microsoft launched the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program replacing the existing partner program i.e. “Microsoft Partner Network”. This new program integrated all aspects of the partner lifecycle including partner onboarding, go-to-market strategies, skilling, incentives, and co-selling. During the keynote address of Microsoft Inspire 2023, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft announced the launch of the new Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program while emphasizing the massive partner opportunity AI has to offer. He said “In fact, if you look at the data that’s coming out, this is probably going to be the most profound shift as a percentage impact on GDP of technology, something like 10%. There will be additional GDP growth. If we have an economy that’s around 100 trillion, we may have 7 to 10 trillion more of GDP growth, driven by this next generation of AI technology.”
The launch of the l Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program is one of the most significant announcements from Microsoft Inspire 2023. The revamped program will allow partners including Microsoft CSPs to take advantage of AI to provide value to the customers and drive business growth. The new Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program will offer all the existing benefits such as onboarding, skilling, GTM, incentives, and co-selling as well as additional AI-specific benefits. If you are an existing partner, you do not have to take any action related to the program overhaul. Microsoft has automatically transferred the existing partners to the new program. Post migration you will retain your current benefits and designations.
The program structure will remain unchanged, and all the Solutions Partner designations and specializations will remain accessible. There will be no changes to the scoring system, program benefits, or badges.
There are several other new AI-focused offerings and benefits available in the new Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program. You can leverage a suite of ready-to-go marketing assets offered by Microsoft, including the new “Era of AI” marketing campaign in a box.
You can learn more about the program here.
Microsoft Customer Engagement Methodology (MCEM)
Another key announcement of Microsoft Inspire 2023 was the opening of Microsoft Customer Engagement Methodology (MCEM) for partners including Microsoft CSPs. MCEM is a valuable tool if you are looking to enhance your customer engagement strategies. MCEM involves creating connections and collaboration between Microsoft sales, support, industry solutions delivery, and partners throughout five sales stages. This is an important announcement as it will lead to delivering greater value to the customer. MCEM is a process that starts with listening to the customer and understanding what they need. And then creating innovative solutions leveraging the portfolio of technology offered by Microsoft. This will ensure that the customers fully benefit from the solutions.
You can download the playbook for each solution area to know more. The playbook will act as a valuable resource for executing MCEM as it features best practices, tools, and templates that will help you deliver successful customer engagements.
Investments and incentives
Microsoft has also made substantial investments in the Azure Migrate and Modernize incentive program as well as introduced an all-new Azure Innovate investment. With the announcement of Microsoft Fabric and Azure OpenAI Service, there has been a remarkable demand for Analytics, leading to a dedicated, incremental $100M investment called Azure Innovate.
Partners who are involved in developing and building security-managed service practices will have increased earning opportunities. Microsoft will be making incentives more attractive for CSPs by offering higher ME5 rates in strategic products. Additionally, Microsoft will be introducing geo-based differentiations based on market maturity and the potential for up-selling.
The extension of incentives eligibility with legacy competency benefits for another year was also announced during Microsoft Inspire 2023. A Customer Ad Accelerator will soon be introduced for CSPs. This is being done to bring parity across solution areas.
Solutions Partner Designations
Microsoft Inspire 2023 announced the launch of several new specializations and introduced new designations. The new Build and Modernize AI apps with Microsoft Azure Specialization is live. The other specializations that will be launched are a new Intelligent Automation Specialization for business applications in Azure and a new Business Intelligence Specialization to highlight expertise in Power BI.
To help customers identify partners as per their business needs, two new designations will also be introduced. For partners with a focus on serving small and medium business customers’ specific support demands, there will be a Support Services Designation. Building on the Solutions Partner designations, the Support Partner designation will provide additional recognition for a partner’s exceptional support capabilities in a particular solution area. Being recognized for offering high-quality support can be a fantastic way to attract customers as a Microsoft CSP.
Partners that provide technical training on Microsoft’s technologies are eligible for the Training Services designation. This will acknowledge and reward their ability to deliver high-quality training at scale in one or more of the six solution areas.
Another important announcement at Microsoft Inspire 2023 was about expanding the Solutions Partner designation qualification window. Partners will no longer be restricted to qualifying only on their anniversary date, they will have the flexibility to qualify during the 180 days prior to the anniversary date. As a Microsoft CSP, this change will give you more time to qualify as well as provides early visibility into your eligibility status long before your renewal window opens. You will be able to see these changes in the Partner Center by next month. This update will give you greater flexibility in choosing the appropriate benefit kit, freeing up valuable time to focus on your business post-qualification. There are plans to pilot an offer later this year, introducing skilling as a benefit. It will offer participants access to in-depth technical training on-demand, along with live labs, and discounted exam vouchers for certifications.
Partner with C3 and stay up to date with the latest from Microsoft
The announcements from Microsoft Inspire 2023 have the potential to have a significant impact on the Microsoft CSP business. If you wish to stay ahead of the curve you need to remain up to date with the latest announcements from Microsoft.
At C3, we are committed to helping our customers succeed. Partnering with C3 will not only help you streamline your billing processes with the ultimate Microsoft billing automation solution but also help you leverage the latest Microsoft technologies and solutions by keeping you constantly up to date on the latest announcements and developments. Bookmark our blog to know the latest announcements by Microsoft.
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