Microsoft Inspire 2018 ISV Insights

Microsoft recently hosted over 18,000 attendees at the 2018 Inspire partner conference. Inspire was hosted in Las Vegas and featured an overlap day with Microsoft’s internal kickoff (“Microsoft Ready”). As usual, it was a well-executed event with amazing networking and side meeting opportunities. Registration is now open for Inspire 2019 (price goes up $300 July 27) which will again be held in Las Vegas.

Most of the Inspire 2018 session content is available online. I recommend copying the PDFs locally for easy reference and watching relevant sessions you missed from the MyInspire video library.Microsoft Inspire 2018

Last year the recurring message was about digital transformation. That is still an underlying theme, with the enabling approach being articulated as Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge. Microsoft sees IoT and edge computing as enabling tremendous Microsoft and partner revenue potential in the years to come. “Microsoft Hosting” and “Windows Embedded” has come a long way since the 2000s. 🙂

Programs

In 2012, Microsoft eliminated the ISV Competency and directed ISV partners to the Application Development Competency. I’m pleased to see the ISV Competency has returned for FY19. Note that Microsoft is requiring AppSource or Azure Marketplace listing as a Competency and co-sell prerequisite going forward. ISV partners should assess the relative value of the ISV Competency as compared to the “cloud competencies” (Cloud Platform, Cloud Productivity, Cloud Business Apps, Cloud CRM), which are eligible for Microsoft incentives.

MPN Competency benefits will be aligned with Microsoft’s 4 solution areas: Modern Workplace, Apps and Infrastructure, Data and AI, and Business Applications. Benefits will be structured as Core, Earned, and Paid (by the partner). Expect these changes to roll out later in 2018.

Advanced Specializations will be introduced for some competencies. They afford a way to differentiate on specific solution areas within a competency.

Microsoft is also creating a new program for ISVs newly entering the Microsoft partner ecosystem (ISV Starter Kit instead of the Action Pack).

Managed ISV Co-Sell

Microsoft had great success with the IP Co-Sell initiative in FY18 so they’ve extended the Microsoft field seller Azure quota offset for co-sell ready partners into FY19. Enterprise Channel Managers remain the primary “sell-with” role for partners.

Microsoft has expanded the co-sell credit program to Dynamics 365 embedded ISVs. The corresponding ISV Cloud Embed program requires publishing to the AppSource catalog, customer references, CSP direct enrollment, and co-sell target commitments.

Microsoft is expanding their industry focus in the Enterprise, with Automotive and Media & Communications getting added to the existing industry priorities (Education, Financial Services, Government, Health, Manufacturing, and Retail). Industry Sales Executives are the primary sell-with role for vertical accounts.

Microsoft will continue to invest in co-marketing and proof of concept (ECIF) funding. Submit a Go-To-Market plan to request co-marketing funds before they are fully allocated. ECIF funding is dependent upon the Azure pull-through potential (it generally requires a 20:1 return).

Top actions post-Inspire include defining your GTM and Territory Partner Plan, engage ISV Co-Sell Days, and potentially participate in Digital Transformation Academy.

See the updated Microsoft Acronyms document, revised based on the new terms used at Inspire 2018.