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What You Need to Know from Microsoft Inspire 2020

By Heather Robinette

Microsoft Inspire 2020 brought a lot of new firsts for many, including Microsoft. While the online-only format meant Inspire would go from almost a week long event to two days, partners and potential future partners were able to get a taste of Microsoft Inspire. The one upside felt by many was the opportunity to attend. Especially for the international partners, this was an opportunity for anyone to attend the free event this year that wouldn’t have usually been able to attend due to cost. In looking back at the events from last week, some key takeaways were:

Digital First Responders
During Gavriella Schuster’s opening keynote, she first talked about our frontline workers and the sacrifices they are making for us. She then shared the role partners have been playing as “digital first responders” by helping frontline workers being able to respond to innovate and solve problems quickly. It was echoed by everyone on the Microsoft leadership team, the idea of being able to Respond, Recover, and Reimagine. Along with the consistent theme of moving to remote everything, they also focused on purpose-driven digital transformation. It’s not enough for an organization to just go through a digital transformation, but to have a purpose. And this all ties back to Microsoft's mission of "empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more." 

Microsoft Goal

Priorities for Partners in FY 21
When looking at the priorities for partners in FY21, the top priorities Schuster outlined were remote work, business continuity, secure environments, and cloud migration. She went on to talk about the opportunities that can come out of this for many partners.  Whether that is using the Microsoft security tools to build an offering around, transitioning project-based work to subscription terms for customers, or using Windows Virtual Desktop to help customers get to the cloud faster, partners will be able to pivot their business to remain relevant as the world continues to evolve into remote everything rapidly.

That said, there was a different tone this year around partners. Both Gavriella and Satya focused on Microsoft being a partner-led company, and they acknowledged how important partners are to Microsoft. Schuster even shared a clip from one of their internal sales meetings that emphasized that they can’t be successful without partners. It was also great to see that there weren’t any significant changes for partners other than trying to make things simpler for them.  

Tech Intensity
Tech intensity was another common phrase mentioned by several of the Microsoft leadership team. Tech intensity is an organization's rate of technology adoption with its ability to build its own digital capability. And in this case, it is the opportunity for partners to come into an organization and not only help them transform their business, but also focus on business continuity, especially during these uncertain times. And while many of the areas were touched on through the various keynote segments, being a trusted partner was a big one they focused on.

Tech Intensity

Microsoft Teams
Last year, we talked about how focused Inspire was around Microsoft Teams, and it appears that has paid off. With over 75 million active users in April, a 70% increase from March, Microsoft has been able to be a major part of the digital transformation within companies across all industries. While this year didn’t focus on Microsoft Teams as much as last year, there were still several new updates they shared, most notably the “Together Mode” that was created to help reduce video fatigue.

Together Mode

Azure Stack HCI
Azure Stack HCI was a hot topic this year. Announced on Tuesday, Azure Stack HCI is in public preview and now allows you to deliver Azure services with hybrid capabilities. It will also have the latest security. This comes after 80% of organizations plan to increase their use of HCI.

Other Applications
In addition to the focus on Azure HCI, there was also a focus on all of the apps. Azure is now available in 61 regions, and 95% of Fortune 500 companies run on Azure. Companies such as Land O’Lakes have been able to use Azure to deliver a digital dairy platform. There were several other updates about several products within Azure, including Azure Migrate and Azure Sentinel. Make sure to check out the Microsoft blog for more details about them.


Github has allowed companies to turn ideas to code and code to cloud. An example they shared was the state of California and how they were able to build a website in 3 hours versus the 18 months, it would have taken before.

Power Platform allows users to build apps with no code. 97% of Fortune 500 companies use the Power Platform. T-Mobile was a great example as it showed how two analysts were able to build an app in 48 hours. They were able to keep employees and customers safe with the onset of COVID-19. The Back to Work Solution includes location readiness, employee health and safety management, workplace care management, and location management.

Dynamics 365 now offers various resources to help partners and customers to develop customer voice feedback, traffic patterns, and fraud protection. Patagonia was a great example of how they shut down until brick and mortar and distribution operations until they could figure out their distributed order management.

Lastly, Microsoft 365, as discussed before, Microsoft Teams has been a key part of everything. Not only being able to connect via Teams, but also create learning environments that are suitable for everyone and be able to collaborate from anywhere, with anyone.

Carbon Negative
At the beginning of 2020, Microsoft set forth a goal to be carbon negative by 2030. At Inspire, they already announced concrete steps they are taking to make that possible. They shared the Sustainability Calculator is in private preview. This can be used by an organization to help track their carbon footprint. They will also be changing the requirements for suppliers reporting emissions. Microsoft has also made a big first step in committing to removing one million metric tons of carbon emissions in the next 12 months. Along with that, they have made their first initial investment out of the one billion dollar fund.

To read more about some of the announcements that were made, you can check out the Microsoft blog.  

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