This content is part of the Conference Coverage: Microsoft Inspire 2022 news and conference guide

Microsoft industry clouds hover over partner event

At Microsoft Inspire, industry-specific cloud offerings emerged as a key FY 2023 direction for the technology company and one in which it enlists partner ecosystem support.

Microsoft is making industry clouds a key component of its pitch to partners.

Company executives speaking at Microsoft Inspire, which wrapped up on Wednesday, repeatedly cited the importance of industry-specific offerings, in general, and its portfolio of Microsoft industry clouds, in particular. Public cloud providers such as Microsoft aim to extend their horizonal platforms to address customer needs within vertical market niches. They seek help from partners to make that happen.

"The partners are really the key to unlocking the full value of these industry clouds," said Julie Sanford, vice president of partner go-to-market, programs and experiences at Microsoft. "They build on the capabilities of these platforms with their unique offerings, services [and] applications."

Building industry cloud alliances

Microsoft offers industry clouds in verticals including retail, healthcare, manufacturing, financial services and nonprofit sectors. The company in June added Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, a cross-industry offering. And at Microsoft Inspire, the company launched a private preview of Microsoft Cloud for Sovereignty, which targets public sector customers' compliance needs.

Against that backdrop, Microsoft has cultivated several industry cloud partners. The roster includes Accenture, Avanade, EY, PwC and Tata Consultancy Services.

Speaking at Microsoft Inspire, Alysa Taylor, the company's corporate vice president of industry, apps and data marketing, cited PwC's retail banking offering, which uses Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, as a recent example of partner collaboration within a vertical market.

The partners are really the key to unlocking the full value of these industry clouds.
Julie SanfordVice president, partner go-to-market, programs and experiences, Microsoft

PwC's cloud foray combines its digital banking expertise with applications and technologies from the Microsoft ecosystem, noted Peter Pollini, U.S. banking sector leader at PwC. The digital banking offering, available worldwide, lets clients extend their businesses and enable new capabilities, build "greenfield" challenger businesses or modernize existing platforms and services, he said.

The digital banking offering is one of many industry cloud efforts PwC and Microsoft pursue, according to Pollini. "Within PwC, we are tightly integrating our services with cloud assets being deployed for our clients across each industry," he said. PwC selects partnerships that represent the most widely adopted cloud technologies that are "fit for the future" of each industry, he added.

Organizing for industry sales

Microsoft is building an industry orientation into its sales and channel programs, continuing a process that began a few years ago. Judson Althoff, executive vice president and chief commercial officer at Microsoft, cited the company's industry and partner sales organization, which coordinates Microsoft's industry sales personnel and partner teams, as one development.

He described the company's industry approach as a layer cake, with Microsoft Cloud providing the foundation and its partner ecosystem spreading vertical expertise on top.

In another move, the technology provider plans to add industry designations to its upcoming Microsoft Cloud Partner Program. Those designations aim to help partners differentiate their offerings based on factors such as technical maturity and customer success, according to a Microsoft blog post. The Microsoft Cloud Partner Program is scheduled to debut in October 2022.

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