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Microsoft: Partner 2021 Priorities are Remote Work, BC/DR, Security, Cloud Migrations

In the holding pattern that is early 2021, Microsoft's priority guidance to partners for the new year is for more of the same.

Microsoft channel chief Gavriella Schuster detailed her view of partner priorities and opportunities this week in a blog post that largely echoed earlier guidance from Microsoft Inspire, the annual July partner conference that helps kick off Microsoft's fiscal year.

As the ongoing coronavirus pandemic leads to renewed lockdown calls around the world, sets new daily death records in the United States and brings an uncertain vaccine rollout schedule, organizations and the partners who serve them find themselves in a similar technology circumstance to most of 2020. To wit, an uncertain business environment, ambiguity about when or if all employees can go back to the office, and limitations on IT spending driven by all that uncertainty.

Schuster, nonetheless, strikes a hopeful note about the challenges. "While some of these factors will unavoidably carry over to 2021, I am confident things are headed in the right direction, and I see a bright future on the horizon for our partner ecosystem," Schuster wrote.

In her post as head of the Microsoft One Commercial Partner organization, Schuster identified four key priority areas that Microsoft hopes its partners will focus on and succeed in during the coming year.

Remote work, unsurprisingly, leads the list. "While the initial exodus to remote work occurred early last year, organizations of all sizes are still evolving in response," Schuster wrote. Her post called for additional adoption of Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft 365 components.

Schuster also pointed to new opportunities in business continuity, noting the infrastructural changes organizations have had to make in the last year that haven't all been followed by revised and reinforced backup and recovery plans.

Like almost every year, security earns a place on the opportunity list. "The mass shift to remote work has made this even more critical for every organization worldwide," she said.

Finally, cloud migrations are another key opportunity area, Schuster said. She highlighted the way Microsoft has been simplifying the migration process for customers to turn to cloud adoption.

The post gives lip service to the term "digital transformation," the major theme of the last few years from Microsoft to its partners. However, what's called "digital transformation" now is dialed back substantially from the heady definitions of 2019 and earlier, when it referred to unlocking massive business potential by reinventing processes through innovative new applications and application modernization. The term now seems to refer more to the survival-oriented operations of supporting remote workers, reducing datacenter expenses and rejiggering business continuity/disaster recovery coverage.

That said, many of these more limited projects can be a stepping stone toward more ambitious projects in the future. When the pandemic recedes, organizations with more robust cloud infrastructures may be more ready to invest in and execute truly transformative projects than they had been before the crisis.

With luck, it's "digital transformation lite" in 2021, involving the types of priorities Microsoft is recommending, followed by "digital transformation heavy" in 2022.

Posted by Scott Bekker on January 07, 2021


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