On July 18th, Microsoft made announcements regarding AI-based technology and policy updates at its annual conference, Microsoft Inspire 2023. This conference featured Microsoft’s new policies and technological updates regarding the advancement of AI and strategic partnerships.
Microsoft has identified ‘collaboration’ as a key factor for success. With a partner ecosystem comprising over 400,000 individuals worldwide, Microsoft recognizes the pivotal role partners play in delivering new technologies to customers in today’s AI-centric world. At Microsoft Inspire, they aim to acknowledge partners’ contributions and share new opportunities and methods for collaborating with Microsoft products.
To recognize the achievements of collaborators, the 2023 Microsoft Inspire began by celebrating the finalists and winners of the Partner of the Year Awards. These awards highlight partners’ successes and innovations across various domains, including solution areas, industries, business transformations, and social impacts.
This year’s Inspire continued efforts to make AI a transformative tool for customers and partners. It showed a variety of AI-based solutions, from expanding AI technologies to introducing new products and services that facilitate customer success. Microsoft showed their partners that they can apply these AI innovations to their businesses.
Since the release of the new Bing in February, many business heads have been eager to strengthen their organizations with powerful and innovative AI tools. However, they had concerns about the protection of their company’s data. To address these concerns, Microsoft announced Bing Chat Enterprise. Bing Chat Enterprise offers AI-powered business chat with commercial data protection. Both input and output values are safeguarded, providing commercial customers with better answers, efficiency, and creative solutions. With the new offering, Bing Chat Enterprise, organizations can securely access Bing Chat from within the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. This service will be available starting from July 18th.
Microsoft unveiled the pricing for Microsoft 365 Copilot at the conference. When generally available, Microsoft 365 E3, E5, Business Standard, and Business Premium customers can access it at $30 per user per month. The official release date has not been announced yet.
Yusuf Mehdi, the Corporate Vice President, and Chief Marketing Officer for Consumer Business, described Microsoft 365 Copilot as an integration of ChatGPT-based conversational AI into the 365 applications. Unlike some single-function AI apps that focus on real-time transcription or copywriting, Copilot offers thousands of features. It provides answers based on business data like documents, emails, calendars, chats, meetings, and contacts, combining them with ongoing meetings, past email exchanges, and previous chat interactions on specific topics to deliver richer and more relevant responses.
Furthermore, Microsoft 365 Copilot is deeply integrated with the apps people use daily. Copilot fosters creativity in Word, analyzes data in Excel, designs presentations in PowerPoint, manages inboxes in Outlook, and provides various functionalities, such as summarizing Teams meetings
Sellers need the freedom to leverage as many options as possible. Therefore, Microsoft is enhancing the capabilities of Microsoft Sales Copilot within Dynamics 365 Sales, adding AI-generated opportunity summaries, context-aware email drafts, and meeting preparation features. This allows sellers to boost productivity, automate more CRM tasks (including Salesforce), close deals with real-time insights, AI-supported content, and recommendations, and personalize customer interactions. These features are now available alongside existing capabilities like Teams call summarization and email thread summarization in Microsoft Sales Copilot.
Viva Sales, announced in June 2022, initiated the innovation in the seller experience and has now been integrated into Sales Copilot. During this event, Microsoft mentioned how customers like Virgin Money are strengthening their customer service departments using customized chatbots created with Power Virtual Agents’ Copilot. Companies can train chatbots in minutes using natural language, referencing internal and external knowledge sources, customer service applications, and web data through Bing searches. Virgin Money’s chatbot handles over 195,000 customer interactions on average per month, enabling service agents to focus on more complex customer inquiries.
Organizations often struggle to identify and eliminate bottlenecks in their workflows. To assist with this, Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, states that Microsoft enables the use of next-generation AI capabilities within Power Automate Process Mining. This empowers customers to leverage AI-based insights to optimize existing processes and enhance efficiency through low-code automation. Process mining allows users to understand what is happening across their entire business and utilize AI to generate insights, app suggestions, and automations, enabling them to quickly build necessary solutions using the Power Platform.
Currently, over 4,500 customers have adopted Azure OpenAI services for their businesses. Microsoft is focused on enabling customers to build chatbots, summarize text, and generate content using their organization’s data. To expand the accessibility of these services to more countries, last week, Microsoft extended the availability of Azure OpenAI to the North America and Western Europe regions, and for the first time, it is now available in the Asia region as well.
Microsoft has announced significant investments to expand the scale and availability of Azure Migrate & Modernize, as well as the introduction of Azure Innovate in response to the increasing demand for analytics and artificial intelligence capabilities. These changes aim to broaden the scope of scenarios and provide rich incentives and support for seamless and rapid migrations as well as the development of new AI-based applications on the Azure platform. The goal is to empower organizations with enhanced capabilities to modernize their infrastructure, harness analytics, and leverage AI to build innovative and efficient applications
As a strategic cloud provider, Meta (formerly known as Facebook) and Microsoft have been long-time partners in the field of AI. During the conference, they announced a decision to strengthen their partnership further.
Meta and Microsoft will support the Llama family of large language models on Azure and Windows. Azure, being an AI supercomputing platform purpose-built with unique facilities, hardware, and software, empowers the world’s leading AI institutions to build, train, and deploy AI workloads. With the availability of the Llama 2 model on Azure AI, developers can leverage the powerful tools of Azure AI for model training, fine-tuning, inference, and particularly, ensuring AI safety.
Additionally, by incorporating the Llama 2 model into Windows, developers can build custom AI experiences tailored to their customers’ needs. They can utilize world-class tools such as Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), Windows Terminal, Microsoft Visual Studio, and VS Code to unleash their capabilities and deliver exceptional AI experiences on the Windows platform.
Microsoft has announced the expansion of its strategic collaboration with Epic, a major healthcare software company. By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, this collaboration aims to reduce the time spent by healthcare professionals on administrative tasks and allow them to allocate more time to providing quality medical services.
Epic is integrating Azure OpenAI Service into its electronic health record (EHR) software, offering a range of solutions. With this integration, healthcare professionals can interactively and intuitively explore clinical data and respond more efficiently to patient messages.
Furthermore, through Nuance DAX Express, Microsoft directly integrates AI-powered clinical documentation capabilities into Epic workflows. This helps expand patients’ accessibility to healthcare services and improves medical outcomes by alleviating healthcare providers from administrative burdens.
Epic customers can now leverage Azure Large Instances to run large-scale Epic EHR databases, allowing up to 50 million database accesses per second. This capability empowers Epic customers to go beyond the limitations of shared public cloud infrastructure solutions they used in the past.
Another significant milestone occurred at Microsoft Inspire, where the launch of the Microsoft AI Cloud Next Partner Program took place. This program aims to assist partners in delivering customer value by leveraging Microsoft AI and Microsoft Cloud. The Microsoft AI Cloud Partner Program provides all partners, regardless of their location, with a comprehensive investment portfolio for their partner business models.
The program encompasses the entire partner lifecycle, including onboarding, technical skill enhancement, marketing strategy development, incentives, and co-selling. Partners can access AI-specific new offerings and benefits while still enjoying the value and benefits of existing programs. No additional action is required for partners to transition to the new program. All existing partners have been automatically moved to the new program, and they will retain their existing benefits and designations.
There are several updates along with new opportunities for partners to enter the market and expand their businesses.
ISV Success Update: ISV Success, which was previously announced as a preview at the conference, is now generally available. It serves as a pathway within the AI Cloud Partner Program specifically designed for ISV partners. The program offers product and cloud benefits, access to demos and sandbox environments, technical consultations for application development and release, as well as sales and marketing benefits to accelerate deals through Microsoft Commercial Marketplace. Additionally, partners participating in the program can also gain access to GitHub Copilot as part of the ISV Success benefits until the end of 2023.
Multiparty private offers: As part of Microsoft’s continued investment in the Commercial Marketplace, they have also announced multiparty private offers. This feature enables partners to sell customized products on the marketplace.
New Solutions Partner designations for more Partners: As part of the AI Cloud Partner Program, the introduction of new partner designations offers additional partners the opportunity to showcase their technical capabilities and demonstrate customer success. This includes new Training Services designations, ISV designations for developing solutions that complement Microsoft Cloud and our industry clouds, and Support Services designations. These designations enable partners to differentiate themselves and excel in developing solutions that align with Microsoft’s cloud offerings and meet the unique needs of their customers.