Organizations around the world are undergoing transformation fueled by cloud, artificial intelligence, mixed reality and the Internet of Things. These technologies are helping businesses and society reach new heights – retail is becoming more personal, banking is becoming more seamless, and healthcare is becoming more predictive and preventive.

At the heart of these incredible stories of transformation – and more – are Microsoft partners. The Microsoft partner ecosystem is a group of hundreds of thousands of organizations driving positive, global impact. Building everything from line-of-business apps to industry-specific solutions on Dynamics 365 to gaming experiences, these companies are a natural extension of the team at Microsoft, delivering cutting-edge technology to millions of customers.

For Microsoft partners – their success is our success. We are squarely focused on delivering a true, two-way partnership with our partner network. It is with success and partnership in mind that, on the eve of Inspire 2018, I’m thrilled to announce new programs, tools and resources to help partners innovate, grow and differentiate their businesses.

Delivering innovation through apps and services

Whether they’re building apps or services, we know partners need access to the latest technology from Microsoft and guidance on how to extend that technology to build tailor-made solutions.

Today, we are announcing exciting new innovations in Microsoft 365, including a free version of Teams, new intelligent events capabilities, the Workplace Analytics teamwork solution and more. We are also announcing new cloud, apps and data technologies including Azure Data Box Disk, Azure Virtual WAN, Azure Firewall and more. We’re so excited to see how our partners will leverage these new offerings to help customers embrace and innovate in the modern workplace and continue to help customers in their journey to the cloud.

In addition to new technologies, we’re releasing new Digital Transformation eBooks, and practice-building playbooks, expanding on the popular resources already leveraged by tens of thousands of partners looking to build and enhance their practices.

Reach more customers to sell your solutions

In our third quarter, we noted that Azure revenue grew by 93 percent, with partners driving a considerable portion of that growth. To build on this great momentum, we’re doing two new things to fuel partner growth – leaning in on our marketplaces and enhancing AppSource as the entry point for selling with Microsoft, and enhancing our go-to-market benefits for partners to help them grow their businesses.

The new marketplace capabilities, available today, include integrated partner-to-partner solutions, private offers, and expanded consulting services. Each of these new capabilities provides partners new ways to get solutions in front of a bigger base of customers and to provide them with a better buying experience. There is no greater priority for us than connecting partners with customers.

We’re also providing greater flexibility and more opportunities to unlock new benefits that help partners go to market. Starting later this year, partners with competencies will have a choice of benefits packages based on their business focus. We’re expanding core benefits to include access to services that support generating leads, improving lead velocity and increasing close rates for app or service offerings.

Focus on differentiation to attract customers

We hear from partners that specialization is key to growth. This concept has been a cornerstone of our profitability guidance to partners and many have taken that message to heart. The ask to Microsoft, from partners and customers, is to do more to help customers find the right partners with the right solutions. Today, we’re announcing new ways for partners to demonstrate their proven expertise to customers with the introduction of new advanced specializations and the new Microsoft Azure Expert MSP initiative. Partners can now demonstrate that they have the right capabilities to help with specific customer business challenges.

Last year at Inspire, we initiated a transformation at Microsoft, and a new journey with our partners that continues together. We are here for our partners, we are working hard to prepare them for the future, and we are committed to their success. We are at a unique time when the combination of technology and opportunity brings us together, and we need to rely on each other more than ever. In the world of Digital Transformation, everyone needs an ecosystem, and a partnership with Microsoft is a partnership with our ecosystem. Together, we are in a position to take advantage of the unprecedented $4.5 trillion opportunity and unleash the power of true partnership to unlock incredible growth and success – for each other, and for our customers.

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