Microsoft debuts major new AI Cloud Partner Program at Inspire 2023

It was a busy day for the entire global Microsoft partner channel on Tuesday as the company made a number of announcements, key among which was the launch of the company’s AI Cloud Partner Program.

The news of the new program came at Microsoft Inspire, an annual event that the company said this year revolved primarily around three goals: help partners accelerate AI transformation better, serve customers, and fuel growth.

Frank X. Shaw, chief communications officer at Microsoft, wrote in a blog that the new program “utilizes the entire partner lifecycle, including onboarding, skilling, go-to-market, incentives and co-selling. Partners get the value and benefits of the previous program plus access to new offerings and benefits specific to AI.

“And there is no action for a partner to take to move to the new program – we have moved all existing partners into the new program, effective immediately, and partners maintain their existing benefits and designations.”

Chief partner officer Nicole Dezen said “the urgency and appetite of customers around AI is real. And this is creating new market opportunities. We are already seeing AI fueling productivity, lowering costs, and accelerating innovation.”

Partners who “lean into this new economic opportunity are creating value for their customers, for their own company, and for the greater economy of their community or country.”

A series of keynote speeches wrapped around an assortment of product announcements from senior Microsoft executives that, over the course of two plus hours, zeroed in on the importance of the burgeoning AI revolution. Speakers included Satya Nadella, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), Microsoft chief commercial officer Judson Althoff and Dezen.

“There is no question we are in the midst of a massive platform shift with the new generation of AI that’s going to transform pretty much every sector, or every category of computing,” said Nadella.

All of this seismic change, added Althoff, will result in a flurry of new announcements and initiatives in which “people are going to AI wash a lot. You are going to see AI appended to a lot of product names and a lot of company names. And look, there will be some real product truth in a lot of those solutions.

“But fundamentally, where we are grounded here, across Microsoft’s partner ecosystem is making sure that we are providing real value in AI transformation and that the scenarios that we deliver together are prioritized against the customers business needs.”

In describing the program, Dezen, said, “today, I’m going to take you through everything the Microsoft AI Cloud partner program has to offer. First, partners of all types, and every business model can seize this AI opportunity with the differentiated value of the Microsoft Cloud and our AI platform.

“Second, I’ll talk about how you can differentiate yourself in the market with the new certifications and skilling for your sales and your technical talent. Third, we have new investments and incentives that you can take advantage of right away. And finally, I’m going to talk about how you can scale your go to market with us, with our new AI resources.”

She said the Microsoft Cloud Partner program the company launched in October 2022, “brought everything together across the entire partner lifecycle.

“Our new Microsoft AI cloud partner program has all of those benefits plus access to so many new offerings and capabilities that are specific to AI, and just as AI capabilities are infused throughout our portfolio, our AI benefits are wired throughout our program.

“The urgency and appetite of customers around AI is real. And this is creating new market opportunities. We’re already seeing AI fueling productivity, lowering costs, and accelerating innovation. We want to help you grow your business and deliver improved customer outcomes through our AI investments.”

As part of the program, she said,  Microsoft has created a “new AI transformation playbook, also available today for all of our partners in our program. The playbook includes many best practices and learnings from so many of you. We’ve added an overview of Microsoft’s AI technology as well as skilling recommendations to help your organization. And of course, it includes guidance on how to go to market with us with AI.

“We’re also introducing a new Era of AI campaign-in-a-box. This is going to help you drive demand for your AI based solutions. It includes both an automated on-demand version, or there is one that you can download and customize to your business needs. And we are going to create campaigns for all 18 of our mainstream solution plays in 11 languages by the end of December.”

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Paul Barker
Paul Barker
Paul Barker is the founder of PBC Communications, an independent writing firm that specializes in freelance journalism. He has extensive experience as a reporter, feature writer and editor and has been covering technology-related issues for more than 30 years.

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